Tag: science/Archives

Mission Control: SomaFM

Mission Control net radio channel logoNASA recently helped launch the net radio channel Third Rock Radio, playing questionable to good rock n’ roll along with NASA news updates.

But Rich Rarey of NPR Labs pointed out (on Pubradio) there’s already a fine NASA-centric, space music channel on SofaFM called Mission Control, “Celebrating NASA and Space Explorers everywhere.”

The feed is full of ambient music well-mixed with astronaut transmissions from space and conversations with Earth. Warning: the real-time reality feel and ambi/astro synchronicity is a bit addicting. Suggest you sample their 128K stream; other bitrates and a popup player are also available.

Sez Mission Control DJ (& SomaFM co-founder) Rusty Hodge :

A while back, on a whim I decided to mix in live audio from a Space Shuttle launch with our Space Station Soma music. I got a lot of great feedback on it, and did it again for the next launch.

I’ve always been fascinated by space exploration, since I was a very young kid watching the Moon landing on a 9″ black and white TV. So when NASA celebrated the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 by rebroadcasting the mission audio in real time, but 40 years delayed in July of 2009, I knew that SomaFM had to add a soundtrack to it. That’s how our Mission Control channel started.

Now whenever the Space Shuttle is up, I mix in the real-time audio feed from NASA with ambient music. When it’s not up, we mix in historical recordings of he Apollo missions. I hope you like it as much as I do!


WNYC Radiolab has been mixing mediums, combining their stellar science pubradio series with video artwork of Everynone. Their latest is a nearly wordless visual contemplation of “words”:

via MQ2.

Islands from Space

Wired has selected some staggering NASA images of islands in “Out of the Blue: Islands Seen From Space:”

Atafu Atoll, Tokelau, Pacific Ocean

Made up of coral reefs that surrounded the flanks of a volcano that has since become inactive and submerged. Like many tropical atolls, Atafu is very low lying and vulnerable to sea-level rise. This photograph was taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station in January.

Galapagos Islands, Pacific Ocean

…are the tops of volcanoes on the sea floor off the coast of South America along the equator. This image was taken by the Landsat 7 satellite in 2001.


KVMR station logoDrove 1100-miles in 19 hours last Wednesday — MT to NoCal — to be with fam for Thanksgiving. Pubradio kept me company the whole way (‘sides some signal-less spots in ID mtns and NV desert, filled with Joe Frank and TAL podcasts.)

Near NV/CA’s border heading east on I-90, when you crest Donner Pass, a pubradio feast commences. My presets fill up fast. From SF there’s KQED, NPR’s most listened-to station, and Pacifica’s KPFA, home to Negativland’s Over the Edge. One of college radio’s freeform finest is KDVS at U of CA-Davis. And community station KVMR-Nevada City CA manages to be hyperlocal yet always entertaining to this outta-towner.

While speeding downhill thru the Sierras, I caught KVMR’s eve news. It ended with a discussion about oak trees: one scientist/radio-announcer/educator talking to another scientist/author. I felt privileged to listen into their conversation. Their tree talk wasn’t dull or dumbed-down; it was comprehensible and comprehensive. An unexpected, imaginative use of radio, doncha think?:

Al Stahler’s Soundings: On Oaks
The oak is one of the signature trees of the Sierran Foothills. Al Stahler spoke with Glen Keator, author of The Life of an Oak: An Intimate Portrait (22:12 mp3):

Strange Mortals

How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people — first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving…
—Albert Einstein, “Mein Weltbild” (“My World-view” 1931)
More from his essay: “The World as I See It

Blue Earth Arc

The blue arc of Earth, photographed by the European Space Agency- Rosetta spacecraft:

ESA’s photo data:

Image of the Earth acquired with the OSIRIS narrow-angle camera from a distance of 633 000 km on 12 November 2009 at 13:28 CET. The resolution is 12 km/pixel. The image is a part of a sequence of images taken every hour through one full rotation (24 hours). The movie will be published later.

The ESA has posted a hi-rez vers (206KB) of Earth from Rosetta. More info at ESA news, the Rosetta Blog, and this Wired article:

This gorgeous image of a blue arc of the Earth against the blackness of space was captured by the Rosetta spacecraft as it swung by our planet.

The European Space Agency mission is on its way to intercept the comet, 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The ship will deploy a lander onto the comet’s surface, the first such attempt to be made.

To gather up the necessary energy to reach the comet out past Mars’ orbit, Rosetta needed three swings past Earth. This is its third and final flyby. It will reach the comet in early 2014.

Unlike the most famous pictures of Earth, which show most of the blue marble, this photo presents a planet in darkness, just the South Pole awash in light.

Rosetta: blog | site | timeline | ESA Ops

Kagu Calls

Kagu bird displayEarthEar is back as a CD label and a new blog, both devoted to natural soundscapes and field recordings. The blog-post “Acoustic Monitoring in New Caledonia” has some startling sounds, w/ pix and map, of the Kagu bird:

Sophie Rouys is a conservation biologist and heads up the Kagu Recovery Plan for New Caledonia; she recorded some really close up calls one morning in the park at Riviere Bleue. They call, usually in groups, for anywhere between 5 minutes and an hour at dawn. They’re pretty silent the rest of the time, except for clucking sounds when male and female switch off at the nest and the occasional display.

McFerrin’s Common Chorus

At this summer’s World Science Festival, Bobby McFerrin plays with the pentatonic scale and audience participation during the session “Notes & Neurons: In Search of the Common Chorus”:

World Science Festival 2009: Bobby McFerrin Demonstrates the Power of the Pentatonic Scale from World Science Festival on Vimeo.

For more Bobby McFerrin and the science behind the participatory pentatonic predictions, see the full “Notes & Neurons” event.

via Monkey See Blog : NPR via boingboing.

Water and Air

From the Science Photo Library:

Global water and air volume: Earth with spheres represeting the amount of air and water on planet

Global water and air volume: Conceptual computer artwork of the total volume of water on Earth (left) and of air in the Earth’s atmosphere (right) shown as spheres (blue and pink). The spheres show how finite water and air supplies are. The water sphere measures 1390 kilometres across and has a volume of 1.4 billion cubic kilometres. This includes all the water in the oceans, seas, ice caps, lakes and rivers as well as ground water, and that in the atmosphere. The air sphere measures 1999 kilometres across and weighs 5140 trillion tonnes. As the atmosphere extends from Earth it becomes less dense. Half of the air lies within the first 5 kilometres of the atmosphere. Image by Dr Adam Nieman.

via TED Talk by Janine Benyus: Biomimicry in action.

Paleontologists TMBG

BD coverMy hometown houses the Museum of the Rockies with “one of the finest paleontology collections in North America.” Several dinosaur diggers are frens of mine.

So was happy to hear their career glorified on They Might Be Giants new double kids CD/DVD Here Comes Science. The song is “I Am a Paleontologist (with Danny Weinkauf)” (2:32 mp3):

Another TMBG sci-song: “Electric Car”
They Might Be Giants (vocals: Robin Goldwasser)

via Some Velvet Blog.

Seeing Sound

Collin Cunningham of Make Magazine sonically induces some strange behaviors in puddles of water and a non-newtonian fluid. The rippling waves in his DIY cymatic (study of visible sound and vibration) experiments are kewl. But do stay tuned for the wild cornstarch rave, and the recipe for creating your own “pet cymatic blob.”

Collin’s Lab Notes: DIY Cymatics

via sound Rich.

HV064- Outer Space

Apollo 11 deploys the U.S. flag on the Moon, July 20 1969Hearing Voices from NPR®
064 Outer Space: Moon and Beyond
Host: Barrett Golding of Hearing Voices
Airs week of: 2009-07-15 (Originally: -0-0)

“Outer Space” (52:00 mp3):

For the anniversary of the first Man on the Moon, July 20th 1969:

“Exploration” (3:25) is put to music by The Karminsky Experience from The Power Of Suggestion (2003).

In the early 1960’s, the United States was losing the Space Race. The first satellite in was the USSR’s Sputnik, 1957. The first human in space was Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, April 1961. The next month President JFK made a Special Address to the US Congress (2:10), that started the program which landed us on the moon eight years later.

“President John Kennedy’s Special Message to the Congress on Urgent National Needs, May 25, 1961”

“Zero G, and I Feel Fine” (6:01) transmissions are from the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions, with music by Jeff Artnsen of Racket Ship.

A women dreams of a visitor from the “Third Planet” (2:14) by Bisophere.

The “Last Man on the Moon” (2:41) are Apollo 17 astronauts Ronald Evans, Eugene Cernan, and Harrison Schmitt. They left the lunar surface December 1972. No one’s been back since. The music was by Jeff Arntsen.

A President has a distorted phone conversation with an underwater spaceman in “LBJ & the Helium Filled Astronaut” (7:21). Commander Scott Carpenter spent thirty days in the ocean at a depth of 200 feet as part of the Navy’s SeaLab project. This 1964 tape of helium speech comes to us from Larry Massett and Lost and Found Sound. More…

Darwin Day

Charles Robert Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882)—

A couple outtakes from The DNA Files, with Sean Carroll, biologist and author of some great Evo-Devo books (Endless Forms Most Beautiful, The Making of the Fittest).

Sean Carroll (music: Jeff Arntsen) “We’re All Mutants” (3:18 mp3):

This one’s kinda rough; in fact, just a rough edit of some choice bits slapped together from a longer interview, Sean Carroll “Remodeled Ape” (11:00 mp3):

How Radio Works

‘ON THE AIR’ 1937 – How Radio Works:

And that’s just for AM. Don’t even ask about FM.

via Technology360.

HV016- Bugs and Birds

Jumping spider, Habronattus dossenusHearing Voices from NPR®
016 Bugs and Birds: Sounds of Summer
Host: Jeff Rice of Western Soundscape Archive
Airs week of: 2009-06-24 (Originally: 2008-06-18)

“Bugs and Birds” (52:00 mp3):

Jeff Rice of the Western Soundscape Archive hosts an hour of creeping, crawling, flying critter sounds for the start of Summer:

Sound artist Nina Katchadourian makes car alarms from bird calls.

Ken Nordine argues “For the Birds” on his 2001 CD A Transparent Mask, with music by Paul Wertico and Jim Hines.

Virginia Belmont’s Famous Singing and Talking Birds tweet the “William Tell Overture (Canary Sextet).”

Recordist Lang Elliot‘s CD Prairie Spring captures a “soundscape of prairie meadows and potholes in spring and early summer.”

An extinct woodpecker revives an Arkansas town; it’s “The Lord God Bird” by Long Haul Productions, with an original song composed for ther story by Sufjan Stevens.

Brian Eno’s music mimics some “Flies,” from the 2006 compilation Plague Songs.

Folk are buggin’, gettin bittin, swatting and swearing at “Mosquitos,” by M’Iou Zahner Ollswang (from the 1985 collection
Tellus #11: The Sound of Radio.)

Scott Carrier takes a morning walk with poet Jim Harrison.

Lang Elliot soaks up the sounds of “Sora Dawn” — “a pothole marsh at dawn with bittern, wrens, rails, and more (Prairie Spring).

Dr. Rex Cocroft, of the University of Missouri, attaches a phonograph needle to a blade of grass, plugged it into a tape recorder, to go “acoustic prospecting” for little-known suburban lawn sounds like “Leafhoppers,” rarely hard by humans.

Host Jeff Rice breeds bugs to make “Moth Music.”

Ken Nordine declares this “A Good Year for Spiders” (A Transparent Mask).

Entomologist Ian Robertson,, of Boise State University, does the “Gnat Dance” with host Jeff Rice and an outdoor chorale performance for insects.

And special thanks to Dr. Hayward Spangler of the Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson for braving bugs between his teeth while “Listening to Ants.”

This hour produced with support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Make Music with Your Mind

Man wearing EEG capBBC Report: “Thinking up beautiful music.”

Musicians may soon be able to play instruments using just the power of the mind. Researchers at Goldsmiths, University of London have developed technology to translate thoughts into musical notes.

Ruben’s Tube

Soundwaves on fire, now if they could just turn it into a sound editor; a classic physics experiment, the “Ruben’s Tube:”