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What’s Causing the Mysterious Hums Heard Around the World?

People in cities around the world – from Taos, New Mexico, to Windsor, Ontario, to Blackburn, England, to Auckland, New Zealand – have reported hearing strange humming noises that have no obvious source. The hums are often compared to the sound of idling trucks, and for the people who can hear them, they can be maddening, causing nausea and insomnia. Read More >>

science
How to Instantly Stop the Sound of a Dripping Tap, According to Science

It’s tempting to think that the “plink” sound produced by a falling water droplet on a liquid surface is caused by the droplet itself, but new research points to an unexpected source of this familiar, yet annoying, sound. Excitingly, the researchers have also identified a neat hack to stop it. Read More >>

science
Experiment Could Help Scientists Predict Avalanches Through Sound

It turns out that 8,000 tiny plastic disks in a rotating drum could help scientists develop a technique to forecast avalanches or earthquakes through sound. Read More >>

animals
Grown-Up Dogs Don’t Care About Your Stupid Baby Talk

You know that thing you do where you talk to your dog like it’s a baby? New research shows that puppies respond well to this silly form of speech, but older dogs couldn't give a crap. So, stop doing it when your dog grows up. Read More >>

science
What Ötzi the Iceman’s Voice Sounded Like

Ötzi the Iceman, the world’s favourite prehistoric mummy, has been subjected to every scientific test imaginable, since his remains were discovered poking out of a glacier high in the Italian Alps in 1991. Now, a team of Italian researchers has reconstructed Ötzi’s vocal cords and used it to reproduce what his voice may have sounded like. Read More >>

science
Scientists Made Beautiful Holograms Using Sound

We’re all familiar with holograms by now, the projected 3D images created by manipulating light. But can you create a hologram with sound? Read More >>

music
Why Drums Only Sound as Good as the Room They’re In

I’ve spent a fair bit of time in the company of drummers, and every last one has been a little bit weird. That level of independent limb coordination must do something to your neural circuitry. Some of them hide their strangeness... unless they get to talking about “room tone.” Then they start describing sounds as boomy or dry or slappy and the secret is out. Read More >>

science
Whoa, Dude, This Ball Is, Like, Totally Levitating on Sound Waves

Using sound frequencies above the human threshold for hearing, scientists have successfully levitated a two-inch sphere made from polystyrene. Read More >>

art
Sound Art Shows You What Musical Notes Actually Look Like

Sound is something of an ephemeral phenomenon, existing in the moment that vibrations travel through the air. Those vibrations also exhibit distinct patterns, depending on frequency, which can be visualised by scattering a fine dust over a vibrating plate. This was the inspiration for Resonantia, an album whose catalogue features photographs that capture those distinctive patterns for all 12 musical notes. Read More >>

science
An Unearthly Sound is Emanating From the Caribbean Sea

Beneath the hum of ship traffic and the chatter of marine life, another sound is emanating from the Caribbean Sea. It’s far too low pitched for humans to hear, but its signature can be detected from space. Scientists have never seen—or heard—anything like it. Read More >>

science
When It Comes to Vocal Range, It’s Not Just Size That Matters

Most people have a modest two-octave vocal range when they sing, but some rare talents can manage five octaves or more. Think the late great, Freddie Mercury of Queen, or Guns N’ Roses’ Axl Rose, although composer-singer Tim Storms holds the Guinness World Record for the largest vocal range: a whopping 10 octaves. Read More >>

science
Why Certain High-End Golf Clubs Make Such an Ear-Splitting Sound

Back in 2006, Nike introduced the high-performance SUMO 2 golf club driver, specially engineered to help golfers hit straighter shots, even for slightly off-centre hits. There was just one problem: the newly designed club made an unpleasantly loud, tinny sound when it struck the ball — so much so, that most players proved unwilling to tolerate it, even in exchange for improved performance. Read More >>

audio
Vocal Fry Packs a Raw, Emotional Punch in Pop Music

The growing popularity of so-called “vocal fry”, particularly among young women, is either a hot new trend or the bane of cultured discourse, depending on who you ask. But when it comes to popular music, vocal fry actually enhances expressiveness. Read More >>

science
The Right Vibrations Will Make Particles in Liquid Break Into a Circle Dance

Chances are you’ve seen the gorgeous patterns that sound waves produce when sand is sprinkled on a vibrating metal plate. Now French physicists have produced inverse versions of these patterns using microbeads suspended in a liquid. They described their work in a recent paper in Physical Review Letters. Read More >>

animals
Why Elk Bugling Sounds Like Lord of the Rings’ Ringwraith Shrieks  

Majestic North American elk are known for producing high-pitched, screeching calls that carry for miles, particularly during breeding season. Known as “bugling”, it sounds for all the world like the piercing shrieks of the Ringwraiths from Lord of the Rings. This has puzzled scientists, because the pitch of an animal’s call in the wild usually depends on its size. Read More >>