Roald Dahl's "The Sound Machine", first published in the September 17, 1949 issue of The New Yorker, proposes a device that can pick up high frequency sounds and convert them into the range audible by humans. The inventor of the machine first hears shrieks of roses being cut by a neighbor. Taking an axe to a beech tree the next day, he is surprised to hear "a harsh, noteless, enormous noise, a growling, low-pitched, screaming sound..."
A radio dramatization of the story is on archive.org in MP3 format.
Several short films have been inspired by the short story. Two on YouTube are embedded below.
Researchers from Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian Institution have joined forces to develop a series of electronic field guides. Their first effort, Leafsnap, uses visual recognition algorithms to identify trees via photos of their leaves. Their species list is currently limited to trees found in the New York City and Washington D.C. areas, but will soon grow to cover the continental United States. Leafsnap is available as a free iPhone app at the iTunes App Store. ( Via Kottke and Garden Design )
Featured in the May 2011 issue of Smithsonian magazine is an article about the vocalizations of different species of mice. Matina Kalcounis-Rueppell, biologist at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, is a behavioral ecologist with expertise in how animals use sound. While working a California field site in 2004, she used an ultrasonic recorder ( analogous to Gordon's Bat Box ) to capture nighttime sounds, some of which she suspected to be those of mice she was studying.
Bringing the recordings into the computer, Matina's team noticed a fairly loud four-note song that turned out to be from a deer mouse. A slowed down recording of the mouse song sounds eerily akin to whale song. Have a listen.