Tripping the Sound Fantastic
September 23, 2010 by Zoe
Whenever I tell people about our audio tours of the universe (which we hosted at Camden’s Roundhouse this past Sunday as part of the Turning Point festival, and back in June at the Stoke Newington International Airport) they almost always say: “But isn’t space silent?”
Not if we know how to listen. With the right equipment we can use our ears as well as our eyes to probe the cosmos. The universe is full of sounds.
Telescopes allow us to capture radio waves emitted by stars across the galaxy and turn them into noises we can hear. And space is not – as popular misconception would have it – an empty “vacuum”. Gas and dust, albeit in small volumes, floats between the stars and can conduct sound waves back to us, such as from the rippling shearing surface of our sun.
Have a listen for yourself here, from the rattling of our atmosphere, to the eerie shrieks and whistles of the moons of Jupiter, to the buzzing chords of nebular clusters – out to the farthest reaches of space and the deepest note in the universe.
Astrobiologist Lewis Dartnell took us on a guided tour this past Sunday through the streets of Camden, explaining what these strange noises have taught us about what lies above our heads.
Check out what he had to say about his first space walk with us in Stoke Newington here.
Space, it turns out, is not so silent after all – we just need to know how to listen.