Category Archives: Maybe I’m Amazed

Black Hole and Cricket Harmonies in Slow Motion

Try playing the following two video clips together – it’s absolutely mind-blowing.

Years ago I encountered recordings of crickets slowed down hundreds and even thousands of times that sounded like a spiritual chorus. I was so impressed I bought the album and still listen to it for inspiraton to this day.

Then, just this afternoon, I discovered someone had “sonified” the data from a black hole and it sounded like the crickets, only more of the bass/baritone section complementing the tenor/soprano insects.

I don’t have the tech to bring them together directly, though I’d love to, but here is each video from YouTube embedded. Listen to a bit of each one separately, then start the crickets from the beginning again and start the black hole at the same time. It is both other-worldly and this-worldly.

Now here’s a disclaimer. A sound engineer analyzed the crickets and presented his findings in the following video:

So, there is some truth and some manipulation to the cricket sounds, AND the sounds of the black hole are sonifications of data, meaning that the energy fluctuatons were converted to audible fluctuations, but the key and the spectral spread were adjusted so they could be heard, meaning that it is somewhat interpretive as well.

Nonetheless, it is all based on nature, just as many movies are “based on a true story.” In other words, take the grain of truth with a grain of salt.

Does snapping your fingers break the sound barrier?

Quick answer, no. Your index finger is only travelling about 20 miles per hour when it hits the base of your thumb, while the speed of sound is 767 mph. So, what you hear is essentially just a skin on skin slap.

But, if you want to break the sound barrier in your home, just snap a towel. Like a whip, the end of the towel flips around to change direction from forward to backward faster than the sound barrier.

Now isn’t that amazing! You can’t drive your car faster than perhaps 1/7 the speed of sound, Your model rocket kit will only hit 1/3 to 1/2 as fast as sound. Even your jetliner flight across country tops out at 6/7 of the sound barrier. And yet, just grab a towel and snap it and you’ve created a sonic boom in your bathroom (the best echo is in there).