Sounds Not Lost

Archiving media is an important subject.  from printed parchment to microfiches, to film reels and hard drives, where data is located in the future is an extremely important topic today as our data usage is unfathomable.  According to IBM, "Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone".  Thinking about this too much is dizzying.  So let's go back to a simpler time when "data" was stored stored on exclusively physical media.  In particular, 3-dimensional carriers like wax cylinders and vinyl records.  These types of recordings are subject to erosion, dirt, and breakage.  Once they break, the audio is gone.  It would be important to move the sounds from these records onto something more stable and less susceptible to further damage and decay.  Why not just play them back and record them onto a digital medium?  That would be a fine solution, except that for the older recordings, even playing them back could be too much strain on the media.  You would literally be damaging the recording as you played it back.  There is an effort called IRENE which is short for the less catchy, *Image, Reconstruct, Erase Noise, Etc.  (etc used in an acronym?).  It's essentially a 3-dimensional scanner specifically designed to scan the surface of a record or wax cylinder.  From these scans, the audio is re-created digitally where it can be safely played back, restored, and cleaned up.  As necessary, the audio can also be reconstructed like an old, torn photograph.  Take, for example, and cracked or broken record.  No record player could play it, but this scanner could scan it, and the sound stitched seamlessly back together with  software.

An example of some audio that has been preserved. You can hear alexander graham bell speaking.

Here is a slightly improved version after it's been filtered.  But remember, it's not the improved filtering that's important here. it's having the recording at all.

Similar techniques were used to extract the audio from scott's first recordings onto sooted paper **see post on first sound recordings***

A nice TV special about this and the first recordings

For additional (very technical) reading:


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Don't Burst My Bubble

Cymatics is the study of visible sound and vibration. Great, now being a visual person I went in search of an explanation of cymatics that I could See:


Onward to YouTube, my generation’s encyclopedia of knowledge!


Cymatics has also been used to propose that sound isn't actually a wave, but a bubble that expands outwards from the point of origin. If my eight grade science teacher was right and sound is like throwing a pebble into a pond and watching the ripples, and those ripples form in a circle around the pebble, does that mean sound ripples outward in a circle as well?

Two of my favorite Visual representations of sound:

Another great use of visual sound that is virtually always at your fingertips is your iTunes Visualizer. Try it with different types of music and observe the differences in how the images react to the beat.

Cymatics is a science that is well within the reach of any household, or scholastic institution.

What you might need:

* A sound machine: computer, phone, cd player, record player, even an old tape player will do.

* A decent speaker system (you might have to do a little research here, you want something that when you touch it will vibrate a little under your hand, and something you can lay flat. 

* A sturdy piece of relatively thin cardboard or card stock to lay over your speaker.

* Sand, or salt, or sugar, a powder that doesn’t stick to itself, to place on your cardboard. (Consider placing plastic wrap over your speaker so gritty goodness doesn't infiltrate the speaker shell.)

* You can also try putting a bowl of water over your speaker. Try adding  food coloring once you’ve got the water vibrating, to see how the coloring moves within the water.

Now where is Smell-o-vision, and when will that technology catch up with the rest?



Acoustic Levitation -Coming Soon

Acoustic Levitation -Coming Soon

Make things float with sound

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