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Posts Tagged ‘sounds

“Sounds are quite innoxious, or most distressing, by their sort rather than their quantity”*…

 

More than 20 million people in the U.S. are afraid of flying. Sitting in a chair that’s floating in the air may be technologically stunning to some, but that floating-in-a-tin-can feeling puts some passengers on edge and sends their minds racing: Do the flight attendants look worried? What was that bump? And, oh man, what was that noise?!

 But you don’t have to worry. You’re more likely to drown in your own bathtub than you are to perish in an out-of-control flight. In fact, the last time a U.S.-registered airliner had any fatalities was in 2009.

So unless the sound you hear is the flight attendants telling you to assume a bracing position—which really only means there’s the potential for a problem—everything’s most likely O.K. Still, the unknown can be scary…

A breakdown—by sound—of most things you’ll hear on a flight and what each of those noises means: “A Nervous Flyer’s Guide to Every Ding, Buzz and Whir You Hear on an Airplane.”

* Jane Austen, Persuasion

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As we assume the crash position, we might send never-ending birthday greetings to August Ferdinand Möbius; he was born on this date in 1790.  A German mathematician and theoretical astronomer, he is best remembered as a topologist, more specifically for his discovery of the Möbius strip (a two-dimensional surface with only one side… or more precisely, a non-orientable two-dimensional surface with only one side when embedded in three-dimensional Euclidean space).

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Written by LW

November 17, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Listen now for the sound that forevermore separates the old from the new!”*…

 

Telstar

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Newton Minow, famed Chairman of the FCC during the Kennedy Administration, recalled visiting NASA with the President, who asked him about a satellite they were shown:

I told him that it would be more important than sending a man into space. “Why?” he asked. “Because,” I said, “this satellite will send ideas into space, and ideas last longer than men.”

Greg Roberts, a retired astronomer and ham radio operator (ZS1BI in Cape Town) has been observing and recording the sounds broadcast by satellites since 1957.  He’s collected his recordings so that one can hear “ideas traveling through space,” for example, Telstar.

Hear them all at “Sounds from Space.”

* NBC News, introducing the “beep-beep” chirp transmitted by the Sputnik satellites

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As we look to the skies, we might recall that it was on this date in 1781 that English astronomer William Herschel detected every schoolboy’s favorite planet, Uranus, in the night sky (though he initially thought it was a comet:; it was the first planet to be discovered with the aid of a telescope.  In fact, Uranus had been detected much earlier– but mistaken for a star:  the earliest likely observation was by Hipparchos, who in 128BC seems to have recorded the planet as a star for his star catalogue, later incorporated into Ptolemy’s Almagest.  The earliest definite sighting was in 1690 when John Flamsteed observed it at least six times, cataloguing it as the star 34 Tauri.

Herschel named the planet in honor of his King: Georgium Sidus (George’s Star), an unpopular choice, especially outside England; argument over alternatives ensued.  Berlin astronomer Johann Elert Bode came up with the moniker “Uranus,” which was adopted throughout the world’s astronomical community by 1850.

Uranus, photographed by Voyager 2 in 1986.

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Written by LW

March 13, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Take care of the sense and the sounds will take care of themselves”*…

 

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The “chunk” of a cash register, the “click-click” of a rotary dial phone, the “clacking” of a manual typewriter– these and 8 other nostalgic noises at Mental Floss’ “11 Sounds That Your Kids Have Probably Never Heard.”

* Lewis Carroll

 

As we wonder where we put that electric can opener, we might send iconoclastic birthday wishes to Samuel Butler, the Victorian, novelist, painter, essayist, and translator was born on this date in 1835.  Butler is probably best remembered for the satire Erewhon and the semi-autobiographical The Way of All Flesh; but he also wrote influentially on evolutionary theory, Christian dogma, Italian art, and literary history.  His translations of The Illiad and The Odyssey are still in use.  And he was no mean turner of the epigrammatic phrase…

“There are two great rules of life, the one general and the other particular. The first is that everyone can, in the end, get what he wants if he only tries. This is the general rule. The particular rule is that ever” individual is more or less an exception to the general rule.”

“A hen is only an egg’s way of making another egg.”

“The most important service rendered by the press and the magazines is that of educating people to approach printed matter with distrust.”

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Written by LW

December 4, 2011 at 1:01 am

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