A History of the Universe in Sound

Big Bang

Artist-technologist Honor Harger listens to the weird and wonderful noises of stars and planets and pulsars. In her work, she tracks the radio waves emitted by ancient celestial objects and turns them into sound, including "the oldest song you will ever hear," the sound of cosmic rays left over from the Big Bang.

By Barry on

I find it tempting to describe sound simply as those things that I can hear but if it were that simple, then I suppose that each of us might have a different definition of sound and one that changes over our lifetimes as our ears grow less responsive to the invisible waves we are immersed in.  That self-centered definition is even more turned upon its head if we consider the ultra-sonic sounds, those of a frequency too high for humans to hear yet heard by other mammals such as dogs or at the other extreme, the sub-sonic communications of whales and elephants.  Are they not sounds simply because they are outside the range of frequencies that our ears are sensitive to? Additionally, some sounds though even within frequencies that we are capable of hearing are simply missed because their intensity, or volume, is too low to be detected by our ears.

It is in that light that I share this video by Honor Hagar.  Though I believe that much of what she is discussing is radio frequency waves that have been electronically shifted to frequencies that we are capable of hearing, it doesn’t diminish the fact that the air we breathe and bathe in is full of fascinating remnants of all sorts.


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