Monday, 22 June 2009

The Guild of Scientific Troubadours

The Guild of Scientific Troubadours is an alliance of songwriters united to write and record catchy pop songs about scientific discoveries. Nearly every day, a new discovery is revealed. Every week, new science art.  Their website not only collects together precious flotsam and jetsam jettisoned from assorted science blogs and RSS feeds, but also acts as a repository for the musical tributes, which obviously, vary dramatically in quality.


Sunday, 21 June 2009

Sound Black Hole

Israeli physicists have created a unique phenomena - an acoustic black hole. Instead of trapping light in the form of photons (particles of light), the Technion laboratory in Haifa have created an artificial black hole which traps particles of sound - phonons.

The sound black hole was generated in attempt to detect Hawking radiation, the as yet hypothetical radiation proposed by Stephen Hawking more than 30 years ago, which causes black holes to evaporate over time.

Andrew Zimmerman Jones notes that "quantum physics indicates that pairs of "virtual phonons" are constantly being created and destroyed. If one of these pairs forms near the event horizon of the sound black hole, one of the phonons may end up getting pulled into the black hole while the other escapes." This may be the best proof yet that Hawking radiation exists.


Monday, 15 June 2009

Human ear inspires universal radio chip

The IEEE Journal of Solid State Circuits report that MIT engineers have built a fast, ultra-broadband, low-power radio chip, modeled on the human inner ear, that could enable wireless devices capable of receiving cell phone, Internet, radio and television signals. 

Devices such as cellphones or FM radios are generally tuned to only a narrow frequency band. The new device is inspired by the network of hairs in the inner ear, which can pick up a wide range of sound frequencies.

One can't help but be reminded of
Douglas Kahn's observation in his 2006 paper, Radio was discovered before it was invented (bringing amber to Riga):

"Since we humanoids have pressure-sensitive eardrums rather than electro-sensitive antennae, we must resort to technology. Perhaps it would be different if we had our 16,000-20,000 cochlear hairs growing on the surface of our heads like sideburns, instead of them being immersed in the two ocean shells in our heads, we would have our body's electrical apparatus at a more immediate disposal and be able to hear the electromagnetic class of waves."