Good Vibrations: The Science of Sound

We look around us—constantly. But how often do we listen around us? Sound is critically important to our bodies and brains, and to the wider natural world. In the womb, we hear before we see. Join John Schaefer, Jamshed Bharucha, Christopher Shera, the Danish sound artist Jacob Kirkegaard and multi-instrumentalists Polygraph Lounge for a fascinating journey through the nature of sound. How we perceive it, how it acts upon us and how it profoundly affects our well-being—including a demonstration of sounds produced by sources as varied as the human inner ear and the creation of the universe itself.

The World Science Festival gathers great minds in science and the arts to produce live and digital content that allows a broad general audience to engage with scientific discoveries. Our mission is to cultivate a general public informed by science, inspired by its wonder, convinced of its value, and prepared to engage with its implications for the future.

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Original Program Date: June 4, 2010
MODERATOR: John Schaefer
PARTICIPANTS: Christopher Shera, Jacob Kirkegaard, Mark Whittle, Polygraph Lounge

John Schaefer’s Introduction. 00:00

Musical Introduction by Polygraph Lounge. 01:27

Participant Introductions 08:26

What makes you interested in sound? 09:45

What are the fundamentals of sound? 16:45

Can we learn to hear noise as musical? 23:48

Visualizing sound wave. 29:23

Music is about emotion… Right? 38:17

Does language get in the way of communication? 44:53

Peripheral auditory system. 54:00

Recording the sounds of the ear. 01:07:00

The paradox of hearing. 01:14:00

Polygraph Lounge makes music with stir sticks. 01:20:00

How sound describes the universe. 01:29:00

Fifty octave shift turned into music. 01:38:00

Polygraph Lounge plays us out. 01:41:25
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