Lift11: Honor Harger, Listening to the sound of space [en]

[fr] Notes de la conférence Lift11 à Genève.

Live and India-lagged notes from the Lift11 Conference in Geneva. Might contain errors and personal opinions. Use the comments if you spot nasty errors.

Works with artists and musicians to create digital art. Her real passion is sound.

We have a very visual representation of space. But what about sound? Space associated with silence, of course, it’s a vacuum… but much of our understanding of the universe is also about listening (radio).

*steph-note: listening to sound of the sun, Jupiter, a pulsar… fascinating*

Three anecdotes showing how accidental encounters with strange noises have led us to great discoveries about space.

1876, Bell is in Boston, working with Watson on the development of the telephone. The wires inadvertently became antennas picking up weird signals. Using he world’s first telephone to dial into the heavens. Solar flares and stuff!

Fast forward 50 years. The telephone has completely transformed telecommunications. Get a cable across the Atlantic? Radio can transfer sound, but it’s lossy. A hiss Jansky couldn’t get rid of: celestial objects emit radio waves in addition to light waves.

1964, Bell Labs, studying the Milky Way with a horn (?) antenna. Listening to the galaxy in hifi. Parasite noise. Pigeons in the dish! But no, the noise didn’t disappear. Radiation left over from the birth of the universe. First experimental evidence of the Big Bang.

*steph-note: listening to that sound — sounds like water running… pretty cool!*

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *