Tagged with “npr” (505)

  1. Ever Wonder What A Woolly Mammoth Sounds Like?

    About a year ago, in a synthetic biology class at London’s Royal College of Art, 24-year-old Marguerite Humeau learned about the work of Japanese researcher Hideyuki Sawada.

    You might have seen his work in a recent viral video: a creepy, dismembered mouth "singing" a Japanese lullaby. That mouth has been called the most mechanically accurate talking robot, with real moving lips, a windpipe that flexes and expands, and even lungs — a pressurized air tank.

    Humeau was inspired to do the same thing. But with animals.

    "I realized there was no area of science that specialized in extinct sound," she says.

    Enlarge this image Marguerite Humeau’s ‘Lucy’ reconstructs the voicebox of an ancient hominid. Marguerite Humeau That was a year ago.

    Since then, Humeau has completed two works of extinct sound, the first of which is Australopithecus Afarensis. You might know her as Lucy — one of the earliest known hominids.

    Lucy Finds Her Voice

    To recreate Lucy’s voice, Humeau studied available skeletal data from Lucy’s remains. As best she could, she constructed synthetic versions of the resonance cavities in Lucy’s skull. She even spoke to the Martin Birchall, a British doctor who performed only the second successful human larynx transplant on a California woman earlier this year.

    "He told me this very funny story," Humeau says. "I was thinking the woman would get the voice of the donor. And actually she recovered her own voice, meaning that the specificity of the voice doesn’t come from the larynx itself — but from the way you shape air in your lungs and the way it resonates in your resonance cavities. So it meant I was on the right track."

    After more meetings with paleontologists and even an ear, nose and throat doctor, Humeau set to work reconstructing Lucy’s voice box out of resin, silicone and rubber. The result is a haunting yowl that sounds a lot like a human groan.

    "It was an interesting being to me," she says. "What makes the difference between a human voice and an animal sound? The difference is the brain, so we think before we talk. I mean, for most people."

    A Shaggy Sequel

    Enlarge this image Marguerite Humeau worked with the the Institute of Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin to study the resonance cavities of elephants, a distant mammoth relative. Marguerite Humeau About the same time she was working on Lucy, Humeau decided she wanted to go bigger.

    How much bigger? Woolly mammoth bigger.

    She met with more experts, elephant vocalization specialists, even the guy who advised Stephen Speilberg on the dinosaur sounds in Jurassic Park.

    French explorer Bernard Buigues was one of her most helpful sources.

    "He has actually been able to touch these animals. They are completely preserved. And so he told me about the smell of them, and being able to touch the fur of a mammoth that lived 10,000 years ago."

    Both works — Lucy and the mammoth — went on display earlier this year at the Royal College of Art. And Humeau was told that children would run in fear from the mammoth’s chest-thumping growl.

    "I would have loved to have seen that," she says. "That was the whole purpose!"

    —Huffduffed by briansuda

  2. Episode 753: Blockchain Gang

    Charlie Shrem had a prison epiphany. Instead of using packets of mackerel to buy and sell things, inmates should use something more like the digital currency Bitcoin. He even came up with a way it could work in prison, never mind that it was Bitcoin that got him arrested in the first place.

    Before getting locked up, Shrem had run the company BitInstant. BitInstant made buying Bitcoin as easy as purchasing a money order. By the time he was 22, Shrem had hired dozens of employees, found a brand new office in Manhattan, and was processing a million dollars a day.

    Shrem though ended up helping some of the wrong people trade dollars for Bitcoin: buyers and sellers of illegal drugs on the website Silk Road. As he was getting off a plane from Europe to New York, Shrem was arrested. He was convicted of aiding and abetting an unlicensed money transmitter, and sentenced to two years in federal prison .

    While Shrem was behind bars he began to see Bitcoin in a new light. So did the rest of the world. Now he’s got a new idea, and he’s trying to convince investors to give him a second chance. It’s not about Bitcoin for him anymore. It’s about the technology behind Bitcoin: Blockchain.

    Charlie Shrem’s journey to prison and back out again is a parable for the transformation of Bitcoin over the last five years. Shrem and Bitcoin have gone from being idealists to outlaws to trying to make it as respectable citizens.

    On today’s show, a thought experiment involving packets of mackerel as a prison currency and a story about how a libertarian’s dream technology was taken over by big banks and stock traders.

    —Huffduffed by briansuda

  3. Rebecca Solnit on Hope, Lies, and Making Change - On The Media - WNYC

    Since the election, Bob’s been experiencing some despair. How can he move forward when the future looks so bleak? In an effort to shake him out of this state, we decided he should speak with Rebecca Solnit, author of Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities. Solnit reminds us that the future is unknowable — and that’s a good thing. Why? Because it creates space for creative intervention. She is impatient with despair, not only because it paralyzes political action, but because the lessons of history teach us that change happens in unexpected and often non-linear ways.

    http://www.wnyc.org/story/rebecca-solnit-hope-lies-and-making-change/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  4. Dame Stephanie Shirley: How Do You Break Into an Industry While Breaking All the Rules? : NPR

    What’s in a name? For tech entrepreneur Dame Stephanie Shirley, bidding contracts under the name "Steve" enabled her to launch and grow a freelance software company with a virtually all-female staff.

    http://www.npr.org/2015/10/02/443437169/how-do-you-break-into-an-industry-while-breaking-all-the-rules

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  5. Your Password Solution, Courtesy of an 11-Year-Old With Her Own Start-Up - The Takeaway - WNYC

    While some kids are selling lemonade, 11-year-old Mira Modi is selling cryptographically smart passwords for two dollars each.

    http://www.wnyc.org/story/your-password-solution-courtesy-11-year-old-her-own-start-/

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  6. Hear Leonard Cohen’s Final Interview : All Songs Considered : NPR

    The conversation with KCRW’s Chris Douridas was recorded just after Leonard Cohen’s 82nd birthday. The two talked about the singer’s health and final album, You Want It Darker.

    http://www.npr.org/sections/allsongs/2016/11/11/501659528/hear-one-of-leonard-cohens-final-interviews

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  7. Episode 425: An FBI Hostage Negotiator Buys A Car : Planet Money : NPR

    On today’s show, three stories of professional negotiators using negotiation in their everyday lives.

    http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2012/12/21/167802325/episode-425-an-fbi-hostage-negotiator-buys-a-car

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  8. Is the Internet Being Ruined? - Freakonomics Radio - WNYC

    It’s a remarkable ecosystem that allows each of us to exercise control over our lives. But how much control do …

    http://www.wnyc.org/story/internet-being-ruined/

    —Huffduffed by kevinmarks

  9. The Personality Myth : Invisibilia : NPR

    We like to think of our own personalities, and those of our family and friends as predictable, constant over time. But what if they aren’t? What if nothing stays constant over a lifetime?

    http://www.npr.org/programs/invisibilia/482836315/the-personality-myth?showDate=2016-06-24

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  10. For Israeli-Born Chef, Hummus And ‘Tehina’ Are A Bridge To Home : The Salt : NPR

    Chef Michael Solomonov sees his mission as connecting people to the food of his homeland. "That, to me, is my life’s work," he says. Solomonov’s new cookbook is Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking.

    http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/10/06/446249184/for-israeli-born-chef-hummus-and-tehina-are-a-bridge-to-home

    —Huffduffed by adactio

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