Tagged with “for:adactio” (11) activity chart

  1. Particle Pings: Sounds Of The Large Hadron Collider

    Deep beneath the border of France and Switzerland, the world’s most massive physics machine is sending subatomic particles smashing into each other at speeds nearing the speed of light. Physicists working with the 17-mile-long Large Hadron Collider hope it will help solve some of the universe’s mysteries.

    But first, researchers must overcome two very mundane hurdles: how to handle all of the data the LHC generates, and how to get non-scientists to care.

    One physicist has a novel way to solve both problems: sound.

    "I have some musician friends that I was talking to about physics, which I do a lot, if people will let me, and I was doing impersonations of particles — as you do — or maybe not," Lily Asquith says with a laugh. She is a physicist who until recently worked with the LHC at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.

    Here’s How It Works

    The concept underlying the LHC Sound project is a principle called sonification — using data to make sound. At the most basic level, sonification correlates any physical property, such as a distance, speed or direction, to a sound property such as loudness, pitch or duration. On her blog, Lily Asquith explains how to make sound out of anything. The audio clip below is sonified data from the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider. Here’s how the sound was made: Enlarge image Lily Asquith/LHC Sound Listen To The Data playlist As a beam of particles is fired through the detector, three data points are collected and mapped to sound parameters: (1) The distance the particle travels away from the beam (dR in the diagram above) becomes the sound’s pitch, (2) the amount of energy a particle has correlates to volume, and (3) how far the particle travels becomes the timing of the notes. Asquith, like many physicists, spends a lot of time thinking about particles like the elusive Higgs boson — the subatomic particle that scientists say endows everything in the universe with mass. Proving the existence of the Higgs boson is one of the main goals of the collider.

    "You tend to personify things that you think about a lot," she says. She gives particles personalities, colors and sounds. "I think electrons, perhaps, sound like a glockenspiel to me."

    In the process of the search for the Higgs, the collider generates a massive amount of information — more than 40 million pieces of data every second. And that’s just from the ATLAS detector, one of the four main detectors in the deep underground complex that tunnels back and forth across the French-Swiss border.

    So Asquith was trying to figure out a new way to understand and sort through all of this data. The LHC currently produces colorful images as an output from the data — sprays of particles in different directions.

    "It’s quite easy to step from there, really, to consider that there could be some kind of sound associated with these things," she says.

    Making Sound From The Data

    She thought about a heart monitor in a hospital; it turns the electrical data from your heart into sound.

    "You don’t have to watch the monitor because you can hear it without making any effort," she says. "Just a steady beep — you can quite easily detect if it starts going quicker or if it stops even for a second."

    She wondered what would happen if she used music composition software to turn data from the collider into sound. So she fed in a sample of the LHC data — three columns of numbers.

    "So we’ll map, for example, the first column of numbers, which may be a distance, to time," Asquith says. "And we may map the second column of numbers to pitch, and the third, perhaps, to volume."

    What she got isn’t quite music, but sounds that are more out of this world — bells, beeps and clangs.

    Interpreting The Sounds

    Right now, Asquith says, the sounds don’t tell scientists very much. But she hopes that in the future, it could help them understand the data in new ways.

    Video: Colliding Particles This animation shows a collision between particles in the ATLAS detector at the Large Hadron Collider. Note: the video clip has no sound.

    Credit: ATLAS Experiment She says that in certain situations, it’s much easier to use your ears than your eyes, particularly with something that’s changing over time. Collider data do that.

    "You could certainly have an alarm system which told you when, for example, you have an event which looks ridiculous according to what you’ve expected," she says. "And that’s quite difficult to do using your eyes."

    But the project is doing something else — making what’s going on at the collider accessible and interesting to people without a Ph.D. That includes many of Lily’s friends who are musicians.

    They are really interested in — even fascinated by — what’s going on at the LHC. But she says they start to look frightened when she brings up the hard science.

    "I just think that’s unnecessary that it frightens people — it should be something that everyone should enjoy," she says.

    —Huffduffed by briansuda 7 months ago

  2. What The Apollo Astronauts Did For Life Insurance

    This week, Americans have been remembering Neil Armstrong. But before he walked on the moon, he had to solve a much more prosaic problem.

    "You’re about to embark on a mission that’s more dangerous than anything any human has ever done before," Robert Pearlman, a space historian and collector with collectspace.com, told me. "And you have a family that you’re leaving behind on Earth, and there’s a real chance you will not be returning."

    Exactly the kind of situation a responsible person plans for by taking out a life insurance policy. Not surprisingly, a life insurance policy for somebody about to get on a rocket to the moon cost a fortune.

    But Neil Armstrong had something going for him. He was famous, as was the whole Apollo 11 crew. People really wanted their autographs.

    "These astronauts had been signing autographs since the day they were announced as astronauts, and they knew even though eBay didn’t exist back then, that there was a market for such things," Pearlman said. "There was demand."

    Especially for what were called covers -– envelopes signed by astronauts and postmarked on important dates.

    About a month before Apollo 11 was set to launch, the three astronauts entered quarantine. And, during free moments in the following weeks, each of the astronauts signed hundreds of covers.

    They gave them to a friend. And on important days — the day of the launch, the day the astronauts landed on the moon — their friend got them to the post office and got them postmarked, and then distributed them to the astronauts’ families.

    It was life insurance in the form of autographs.

    "If they did not return from the moon, their families could sell them — to not just fund their day-to-day lives, but also fund their kids’ college education and other life needs," Pearlman said.

    The life insurance autographs were not needed. Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon and came home safely. They signed probably tens of thousands more autographs for free.

    But then, in the 1990s, Robert Pearlman says, the insurance autographs started showing up in space memorabilia auctions. An Apollo 11 insurance autograph can cost as much as $30,000.

    —Huffduffed by briansuda one year ago

  3. Interview: Tom Standage

    There is nothing new under the sun, says Ecclesiastes, and when it comes to social media Tom Standage has set out to prove the saying right. His day job is as a journalist and the digital editor at The Economist. But he’s also the author of a book called The Victorian Internet. And he’s got another in the pipeline called Cicero’s Web. I began by asking him about a technology which totally transformed Australian life in the Victorian era - the telegraph wire.

    —Huffduffed by briansuda one year ago

  4. Iceland Serves Up Road Salt for Dinner

    Iceland has a big issue at hand at the moment.

    “Salt”

    And it is not about the kind that we sprinkle on food, but the one that we sprinkle on roads to stop the cars from sliding around the ice.

    But maybe it is both.

    It seems Icelanders have been seasoning their food with industrial or road salt for about 13 years, without realizing it.

    Anchor Marco Werman talks to Thora Arnorsdottir, a news editor at Icelandic National Broadcasting in Reykjavík. She has been covering the salt scandal.

    —Huffduffed by briansuda 2 years ago

  5. The Infinite Monkey Cage: Six Degrees of Separation?

    Robin Ince and Brian Cox are joined by Stephen Fry, Simon Singh and Aleks Krotoski to discuss the maths behind 6 degrees of separation and whether there is something special about Kevin Bacon that seems to make him so well connected?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/timc

    —Huffduffed by briansuda 2 years ago

  6. Point of Inquiry — George Lakoff

    George Lakoff is a cognitive linguist at the University of California at Berkeley. But unlike many of his scientific peers, he’s known as much for his work on politics as for his research.

    Lakoff the famed author of many books on why the left and right disagree about politics, including Moral Politics, Don’t Think of an Elephant, Thinking Points, and most recently, The Political Mind: Why You Can’t Understand 21st Century Politics with an 18th Century Brain.

    Throughout these works Lakoff has applied cognitive and linguistic analysis to our political rifts, and his ideas about "framing," "metaphor," and the different moral systems of liberals and conservatives have become very widely known and influential.

    —Huffduffed by briansuda 2 years ago

  7. Rendezvous with Rama, Episode 1, 2009.03.01, BBC4, Written by Arthur C. Clarke, Adapted by Mike Walker

    When the mysterious space object known as Rama appears in the solar system, the crew of the SV Endeavour are sent to investigate. Arthur C. Clarke’s novel won both the Hugo and Nebula awards upon its release.

    —Huffduffed by briansuda 3 years ago

  8. Rendezvous with Rama, Episode 2, 2009.03.08, BBC4

    Written by Arthur C. Clarke and adapted by Mike Walker. What is the secret at the heart of the space object known as Rama and why, years after the event, has Commander William Norton never spoken about what he found there?

    —Huffduffed by briansuda 3 years ago

  9. Anthony Bourdain - KCRW Guest DJ Project

    Anthony Bourdain is an author, world traveler, insane eater and a punk rock aficionado. He was attracted to sinister and angry music at an early age, but it was when he discovered The Stooges that his “downward spiral” began. The outspoken TV personality shares favorites from his formative years and more as part of his Guest DJ set. Anthony is the host of the TV show No Reservations on the Travel Channel and a bestselling author. His latest book is Medium Raw.

    http://www.kcrw.com/music/programs/gd/gd100728anthony_bourdain

    —Huffduffed by briansuda 3 years ago

  10. This American Life - 110: Mapping

    Five ways of mapping the world. One story about people who make maps the traditional way — by drawing things we can see. And other stories about people who map the world using smell, sound, touch, and taste. The world redrawn by the five senses.

    —Huffduffed by briansuda 3 years ago

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