Bach Organ Recital - On Mars

What would a concert on Mars or Venus sound like? This intriguing question is explored with two scientsts in a recent interview with Ari Daniel Shapiro.

In "The World", Dr. Tim Leighton, professor of acoustics at Southampton University, remarks "All of the space probes that have been launched to explore the solar system have been able to see with cameras ... but are deaf. They have not been equipped with microphones."

Many artists have depicted scenes in outer space on a variety of media - almost entirely visual. Leighton looked at a painting of a methane "waterfall" commissioned by NASA and wondered what it would sound like.

"I began asking whether the noise of splashes which is so familiar to us on Earth would be recognisable in a sea of liquid ethane at a temperature of 180 degrees below zero. NASA’s specially-commissioned painting of a waterfall - actually a methane fall - on Titan inspired me to attempt to predict how it would sound. I set up the equations and measured the sound of a small waterfall in nearby Romsey. My colleague Dr Paul White then processed the signal to obtain what we believe would be the sound of a methane fall on Titan. "

Andi Petculescu of the University of Louisiana is also curious about the sounds of other worlds. The two scientists simulated the sound of the music - say in a good crater - and then looked at the known characteristics of the atmosphere. Tim Leighton remarked that "We could position the audience in different positions in the crater and see how the sound changes. What's a good concert hall on each planet?"

They chose the organ as the instrument, and Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor as the piece to simulate. They tried simulating organ concerts on Mars and Venus.

Finally, they recorded a 'simulcast' concert, the same music played on Earth Mars Venus and Titan.

If you like the music of the spheres, try these stories:

Hear the Bach on Mars at The World, and read What Does A Waterfall Sound Like In Space?; thanks to Dan for pointing this one out.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/12/2008)

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