In this 20 minute audio tour, we explore the question… what does the brain sound like? Most people can imagine what the brain looks like, feels like, and maybe even smells like – but few might have ever thought about what it sounds like.
We have chosen a dozen different recordings, each of which illustrates a different aspect of how the brain works, and how we try to understand it.
1. Surgical Saw: This is the real sound of a brain being sliced open with a piece of cheese wire at a hospital in the Ukraine. Many thanks to Geoffrey Smith, director of The English Surgeon, and Angela Saward, Curator of Moving Image & Sound at the Wellcome Library, for providing this track.
2. Wobbling Jelly: This is not the sound of a real brain, but of a block of jelly, which food artisans Bompas & Parr, in association with sound artist Douglas Murphy made in a soundproof studio. This is what a real brain would sound like, as it has the consistency and texture of jelly.
3. Epileptic Seizure – This is the sonified version of an EEG, recorded in the 1960s. The patient in question was a small child in the 1960s (name withheld for privacy reasons). Many thanks to our benefactors The Wellcome Trust for providing us with this original piece of historical material.
4. Auditory Nerve – This is a single cell nerve recording, taken using a glass needle, stuck into the auditory nerve of a hamster in the 1960s.
5. Cochlear Implant – This is not the real sound of a cochlear implant, but a simulation of what one may sound like to its users.
6. Mosquito Frequency – All of us will lose our ability to hear tones of higher frequencies as we age, due to the thickening of the basilar membrane, the bedrock of the cochlear spiral. Ain’t that but a crying shame. The sound of 17,000Hz will be heard by only the younger audience members. Can you hear it? Editor’s note: We promise that it’s not a fake.
7. Neverending Scale – The Shepard Scale is often compared to an Escher staircase - and even those of us who have heard it over and over find the concept difficult to understand, let alone explain in clear language. The best source I have found online that explains the nature of this illusion is this clip from Bang Goes The Theory.
8. Shepard-Risset Glissando – A variation on the Shepard Scale, but as a glissando. Creepy stuff! Try listening to it over and over and over – we promise it never stops feeling weird. If you look at this youtube clip, which visualises the sound waves, it might make a bit more sense.
9. Binaural Illusion – Our brains use the tiny time differences between sounds reaching our right and left ears to calculate the source of the sound in physical space. Enjoy.
10. Phantom Words – These come from Prof Diana Deutsch of the University of California, who is the master of sonic illusions – some have called her the grand dame of auditory neuroscience. She is one cool cat – and a fantastic example of a scientist who is not only a woman, but also achieves things that are, for lack of a better descriptor, spectacularly original. They can find all the examples of her work online for free on her website.
11. Reconstructed Speech – Dr Brian Pasley is using sophisticated software and intracranial recordings of the brain to reconstruct what words subjects heard, and to reproduce them with computer algorithms. You can read the original paper in PLoS Biology here.
12. Music of the Hemispheres – Prof Dan Lloyd has translated the activity of fMRI recordings of the brain into music – you can watch this video and read more about his work here. Honestly – his theory is really without any rivals, artistically or philosophically. Whether you agree with his hypothesis – that “we are all symphonies” or not – you will at least find the videos and short films edifying.
13. Remix: The Music Of The Mind – An original remix created for us by composer Dean Williams – made entirely from the sound samples from the rest of this tour. You can download that entire track and learn more about how he made this unprecedented musical score here.
This has been the Guerilla Science Sonic Tour of the Brain – we perhaps might not have been able to explain exactly what the brain sounds like, but we hope, there are many different ways of approaching the question.
By Zoe Cormier – hopelessly devoted audiophile, and co-founder of Guerilla Science.
The new Home app/UX/quasi-OS is deeply integrated into the Android environment. It takes an effort to shut it down, because Home’s whole premise is to be always on and be the dashboard to your social world. It wants to be the start button for apps that are on your Android device, which in turn will give Facebook a deep insight on what is popular. And of course, it can build an app that mimics the functionality of that popular, fast-growing mobile app. I have seen it done before, both on other platforms and on Facebook.
But there is a bigger worry. The phone’s GPS can send constant information back to the Facebook servers, telling it your whereabouts at any time.
So if your phone doesn’t move from a single location between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. for say a week or so, Facebook can quickly deduce the location of your home. Facebook will be able to pinpoint on a map where your home is, whether you share your personal address with the site or not. It can start to build a bigger and better profile of you on its servers. It can start to correlate all of your relationships, all of the places you shop, all of the restaurants you dine in and other such data. The data from accelerometer inside your phone could tell it if you are walking, running or driving. As Zuckerberg said — unlike the iPhone and iOS, Android allows Facebook to do whatever it wants on the platform, and that means accessing the hardware as well.
Manuel Delanda, “Deleuze and the Use of the Genetic Algorithm in Architecture” (by columbiauniversity)
In the interview, Rushkoff gives voice to so many of the things I have been feeling about news consumption: that making sense of news events is increasingly difficult because newspapers don’t fit the bill and live-blogging is confusing as ever; that Facebook invites misrepresentation; that the NY Times consumption experience is becoming increasingly frenetic because they have so many different versions of it. The Wall Street Journal (and I agree here), on the other hand, stays better anchored in time:
The Wall Street Journal has held onto a lot of what the nightly newscast provides, shockingly even with Murdoch at the helm. There’s this sense that they understand. There’s a periodicity to what they’re doing, so they stay anchored in time. The New York Times, on the other hand, it’s so hard to even comment on them, because there are so many New York Timeses happening simultaneously. It’s schizophrenic. I don’t even know how to consume it anymore.
The larger point is this (summed up by Mathew Ingram):
Rushkoff isn’t the only one to notice this: for me, the tension between those two modes of information delivery — the real-time stream and the fixed-in-time reservoir — was best described by Robin Sloan, author and former Twitter staffer,in an essay about what he called “stock” and “flow.” Those terms come from the world of economics, where people are used to talking about stored value (such as cash and other monetary instruments, or physical resources) and the real-time fluctuation in the value of those things: i.e., the trading of currency or the sale of goods.
Sloan said at the time that the idea of stock and flow was “the master metaphor for media today,” and I think he was right. We are all caught between the stream and the reservoir — because we want to be part of the real-time flow, but we also want to capture the value that comes from taking the time to analyze that flow.Atlantic editor Alexis Madrigal wrote about this challenge in a recent piece on the life of a digital editor, but it is something we all struggle with, whether we are theNew York Times or just someone trying to keep up with the news.
FJP: Finding a path through the media madness is a pretty enormous life goal of mine. Looking forward to reading the book.—Jihii
18 Cadence is a new interactive text experience by Aaron Reed: he calls it a “story kit” rather than a story or storyworld or interactive fiction. This is fair enough. Scraps of text describe the rooms in the house at 18 Cadence during each year from 1901 to 2000, as well as the objects and the inhabitants. To manipulate the story, one moves back and forth through the years, or through the rooms by clicking on a floor plan. Different inhabitants have different understandings of what is going on. The story of the house includes both personal histories — deaths, betrayals, love affairs, weddings and births, addiction and depression — and hints of the history of the 20th century, social change and prejudice. During the house’s turbulent years in the 90s, inhabitants come and go quickly, and there are lots of roommates, so it is hard to care as much about any one of them as they flicker past: a hint of social disintegration. But there are also props that last through the years, features that persist and change. (via 18 Cadence | Emily Short’s Interactive Storytelling)
Gove Versus Reality (by Gove Versus Reality)
Diego Stocco - Music From A Dry Cleaner (by Diego Stocco)
Remote-controlled drone that flies and is in the form of a dragonfly - video embedded below:
With the BionicOpter, Festo has technically mastered the highly complex flight characteristics of the dragonfly. Just like its model in nature, this ultralight flying object can fly in all directions, hover in mid-air and glide without beating its wings.
An episode of the popular cartoon has been leaked (and lost) written and directed by the incredibly talented animator David O’Reilly, fully rendered in 3D and featuring many crazy glitch / net-art styles.
I say it appears to already be taken down, but it was located here
UPDATE: It’s on YouTube!!! Thanks Dubi!
Invisible design propogates the myth that technology will ‘disappear’ or ‘just get out of the way’ rather than addressing the qualities of interface technologies that can make them difficult or delightful.
Intentionally hiding the phenomena and materiality of interfaces, smoothing over the natural edges, seams and transitions that constitute all technical systems, entails a loss of understanding and agency for both designers and users of computing. Lack of understanding leads to uncertainty and folk-theories that hinder our ability to use technical systems, and clouds the critique of technological developments.
As systems increasingly record our personal activity and data, invisibility is exactly the wrong model.