Gordon's blog

Biomusic duet with fungus

Eduardo Miranda’s biocomputer.
[ Eduardo Miranda’s biocomputer. ]

Premiering March 1st at the Peninsular Arts Contemporary Music Festival is “Biocomputer Music”, a duet for piano and slime mould. Eduardo Miranda’s biocomputer is created with Physarum polycephalum cultures that act as memristors when voltage is applied to them.

Discovered only recently in solid state electronics, memristors have the capacity to be programmed by voltages, which is how they are being used in the musical biocomputer.

Human input to a piano is transmitted electrically to the biocomputer. After the signal is processed by the cultures, the biocomputer responds, sending signals back to the piano strings via electromagnets.

Mr. Miranda is interviewed on the BBC Inside Science podcast. His segment begins around the 14:10 mark.

Via BBC News

America's Vanishing Silent Spaces (Newsweek video)

I'm really glad you could stop by tonight because I have something I'd like to share with you. I have invented a cool new term and you can all feel to use it anytime you like. I guarantee that you've never heard it before so your use of this term will plant the seeds of its propagation across the internets and you might get to enjoy a warm fuzzy feeling when you hear it again and realize that you and a very small select group were responsible for its survival. The term is "Societal White Noise" and it can best be defined as what happens when man drags his fingernails across Mother Nature's blackboard. SWN as I like to call it is the sum total of unnatural sound generated by man and his machinery, electronics, and sometimes his children. I chose SWN because we all seem to attach ourselves most readily to three character acronyms like FBI, IRS, PDF, STD, and the like. I hope I haven't usurped someone else's acronym here..... If so, tough cheese! Please try to use it in a sentence every now and then to humor an old man.

Unlike me, audio ecologist Gordon Hempton makes sense and backs up his studies with research. I have to think that he might have created his own definition of audio ecology here, and after you see this excellent short video you'll certainly give him a pass and grant him the privilege. I've only experienced silence once or twice in my lifetime and even then for very brief periods of time in the Maine north woods. He has adopted the task of researching, identifying and preserving America's last truly silent places. I found Hempton's new book, "One Square Inch of Silence", available at Barnes and Noble as well as Amazon.com. It would be great if we placed as much importance on the creation of silence as an art form as we did the creation of sound.

In 3..... 2..... 1..... Roll Video.


(Remember SWN)

Loud Bass Line Kills British Student?

Too much of a good thing perhaps? Here's the story of a 19 year old student who while at aparty claimed that the loud bass music was having an effect on him. He collapsed and two hours later was pronounced dead, with no evidence of alcohol, drugs, or other toxic substances in his system. Is it possible that sound alone can have lethal consequences? We've all seen the demonstrations on TV of the devices developed by our friends at the Pentagon which claim to achieve crowd control using focused beams of high frequency, high energy sound. Some critics are worried that our government is attempting to "weaponize" sound, light, and even our very minds.

Low frequency signals received by our bodies in the form of light, audio, and mechanical vibration have been shown to create disturbances in our EEG waves and in the case of light, even trigger epileptic seizures as was noticed in some video games. It would seem reasonable to me that very low frequency pulses might possibly trigger interruptions or arrhythmia in the heart patterns of some individuals. In my own experiments with vibration therapy, I have accidentally produced extremely uncomfortable and stressful events in people using just a low level of audio which apparently triggered feelings of emotional and physical discomfort. I believe that there are things still to be discovered when it comes to the effects of external stimulation of our senses and that some folks may bemore susceptible to these stimuli than others, perhaps pathologically so.

The link below points to a news article published in the UK "Metro" back in December of last year which shares with us the story of Thomas Reid. We should step back for a moment and remember that our senses are ports of entry to our bodies and minds and should be treated with respect.


Two Excellent Sites Featuring Natural Sounds

Silent listening is a first class collection of clips, links, and commentary edited by Andreas Bick, a sound artist and composer from Berlin.

Peruse these and visit his personal site at www.andreas-bick.de. I especially enjoyed his posts on ice sounds which brought back memories of living in a mill house near a large pond.

On cold, still winter nights I could hear the ice cracking from my bedroom. In those days before global warming the pond creaked and groaned throughout the winter as the "season cracks" spread from one side of the pond to the other.Those days were over six decades ago when there was no "societal white noise", TV, traffic, computers, etc., to drown out natures voice. Now, that same pond rarely freezes at all and the surviving flights of migrating geese pass overhead unheard.

Keep up the good work Herr Bick!

Gruenrekorder.de offers the audio aficionado a virtual toybox packed full of excellent "stuff" sure to be enjoyed by the sound artist as well as the curious passer-by.  Be sure to check out the fine essays featured in the "Field Notes" documents. The first and second issues are available for download in .pdf format. This fascinating site is another "not to be missed" experience.

Most Direct Evidence of Dark Energy Detected

A new color-coded image represents the first visual evidence of the existence of dark energy, a mysterious force that astronomers think is causing the expansion of the universe to speed up.

"This is the first time when we actually see the effect of dark energy in a picture," said study leader István Szapudi of the University of Hawaii. "This is the most direct evidence of dark energy."

The new image reveals the spectral fingerprints created by dark energy as it stretches huge supervoids and superclusters, structures that are roughly half a billion light-years across.

(Via National Geographic News.)