Music

Can fungi make violins sound like a Stradivarius?

Publication: NBC News   Date: September 11, 2012   View Article

Violin makers of the future may be able to match the sound quality of a Stradivarius thanks to a pair of fungi that get their nutrition from the wood used to make the instruments.

The Swiss researchers and violin makers behind the project explain that ideal wood for violin tone is low density, with a high speed of sound and a high modulus of elasticity, which is a measure of the wood’s resistance to strain.

Blast to the past with these eight classic gadgets

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: January 20, 2009   View Article

When the Apple iPhone was introduced in June 2007, it won kudos as a world-changing gizmo. Finally, gadget freaks had a cell phone, music and video player, camera, PDA, and Web browser together in one seamless package operated purely by touch. Check out eight classic gadgets that made a mark on technology. Many of their functions are now standard features on today’s all-in-one smartphones.

Cricket, Katydid Songs Are Best Clues to Species’ Identities

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 5, 2006   View Article

In a nighttime chorus of insects, the easiest way to identify individual katydid and cricket species is by listening to their songs, according to one of the world’s leading authorities on the jumping insects.

“Without sound, we’d be in a pickle,” said Thomas Walker, an entomologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

Relying on morphology—body shape, structure, and color—to identify some katydids and crickets is next to impossible, he says.

Tropical Wrens Sing Complex Tunes, Researchers Find

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: August 8, 2006   View Article

Plain-tailed wrens sing what is perhaps the most complex and coordinated birdsong known, researchers have discovered. But you might not realize it just by listening.

“It sounds rather boring, truth be told,” said Peter Slater, a biologist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

“It’s only when you realize that it’s several birds singing in a perfectly synchronized form that it becomes impressive.

“At a distance you wouldn’t know it was more than one bird.”

Humans Are Birdbrained When Learning Speech, Study Hints

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 17, 2006   View Article

Hummingbirds are well known for their ability to flap their wings at an eye-blurring 75 beats or more per second. Less known, perhaps, is the fact that they can learn to sing the hummingbird equivalent of “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”

Like parrots and sparrows, whales and dolphins, and bats and humans, hummingbirds are part of a select group of animals that possess the ability to imitate and learn sounds—a process known as vocal learning.

Your DNA Is a Song: Scientists Use Music to Code Proteins

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: October 21, 2005   View Article

What are proteins? How are they structured? What’s the difference between a protein in a human and the same protein in a lizard? Ask Mary Anne Clark these questions and she is likely to respond with an earful of music.

Clark is a biologist at Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth, and she’s part of a growing field of science educators who use so-called protein music to help illustrate the basic structure of the building blocks of life.

All living things are made up of proteins. Each protein is a string of amino acids. There are 20 different amino acids, and each protein can consist of dozens to thousands of them.

Babies Use Rhythms to Adapt to Their Culture, Study Finds

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: September 21, 2005   View Article

By the time babies celebrate their first birthday, their ears are already tuned to the rhythms and sounds of their culture, researchers say.

The finding suggests that one-year-olds in North America, for example, notice subtle changes in waltz-like rhythms but not in the complex dance rhythms unique to other continents.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach