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"Music" Of the Sun Recorded By Astronomers 94

Scientists at the University of Sheffield have recorded the "music" produced by the magnetic field in the outer atmosphere of the sun. They discovered that the huge magnetic loops that coil away from the outer layer of the sun's atmosphere, known as coronal loops, vibrate like strings on a musical instrument or behave like soundwaves traveling through a wind instrument. From the article: "Professor Robertus von Fáy-Siebenbürgen, head of the solar physics research group at Sheffield University, said, 'It was strangely beautiful and exciting to hear these noises for the first time from such a large and powerful source. It is a sort of music as it has harmonics. It is providing us with a new way of learning about the sun and giving us a new insight into the physics that goes on at in the sun's outer layers where temperatures reach millions of degrees.'"


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"Music" Of the Sun Recorded By Astronomers

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  • How soon before it is up on iTunes? ;)
  • Translation (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2010 @10:54AM (#32642044)
    'It was strangely beautiful and exciting to hear these noises for the first time from such a large and powerful source. It is a sort of music as it has harmonics. It is providing us with a new way of learning about the sun and giving us a new insight into the physics that goes on at in the sun's outer layers where temperatures reach millions of degrees.'

    In other words:

    "We get to dick around with lots of expensive equipment"
    • A little math history:
      once upon a time, there were these guys trying to deal with mathematical analysis and calculus and stuff. and one of them had the idea to call sets of functions spaces, and to use concepts from euclidian geometry when dealing with them. even now, if you try to talk to someone working in quantum physics, they'll start going on about hilbert spaces, scalar products between functions and stuff like that. and instead of working with numbers and functions on these numbers, they will prove t

      • The most important scientific achievements are made by people who succeed in using simple childish concepts when dealing with complex problems (have you ever heard of Feynman diagrams?).

        So what you're saying is that the most important scientific achievements are made by people who dick around with lots of expensive equipment? ;)

  • yep (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigredradio ( 631970 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @10:58AM (#32642104) Homepage Journal
    Sounds a lot like old Pink Floyd. (pre-DSOTM)
  • Now to combine this with the sounds of Sputnik and the "sounds" of Mercury from the movie Sunshine.

  • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @11:02AM (#32642178) Homepage
    ...hugging a rainbow.

    Now, turn your stupid gaia-wicca drivel down, get off my lawn, and go and do some Goddamn science.

    • Up next, Biological Sciences: Can whales hug? We'll do an in depth study to see if the infamous flippers can fulfill a fundamental nurturing activity.

    • You know, in all honesty I read Slashdot more for the comments than I do for the articles. Hilarious.
  • WTF (Score:4, Insightful)

    by V!NCENT ( 1105021 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @11:03AM (#32642196)

    I don't wanna persue the captain obvious degree but... this has been posted sooooo many times before on /. and other sites and it this has already been done one freakijng year ago...


    • I don't recall seeing this on Slashdot before. At least, not in my RSS feed.
      • by thijsh ( 910751 )
        It was in my feed... maybe more than a year ago... was only mildly interesting then, and really annoying now.
        • I've never been a good story writer, but one of the few I tried submitting was this one... back in 2007:
          ushering05401 writes "The BBC writes about info delivered at the current Royal Astronomical Society's National Astronomy Meeting (Concluded today, April, 20).

          Apparently solar flares follow 'coronal loops.' These loops funnel acoustic signals much like a pipe organ does — leading the reporter to liken the sun's corona to a musical instrument.

          From TFA: "These loops can be up to 100 million kilometres

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by blueg3 ( 192743 )

      For certain definitions of "this", perhaps. The research this particular article is talking about, though, was released today, according to the university's website:
      http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/mediacentre/2010/1662.html [sheffield.ac.uk]

      Different people doing further research on a topic that you've heard of before in the past is fairly common and is hardly the same as a duplicate or posting a months-old story.

  • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @11:08AM (#32642288) Journal

    If you listen closely you can make out the lyrics:

    The sun is a mass of incandescent gas, a gigantic nuclear furnace...

    • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

      I was hearing Billy Thorpe myself.

    • by kg8484 ( 1755554 )
      Play it backwards and you get "Stairway to Heaven."
    • by slyrat ( 1143997 )
      Or with the newer version:

      "The sun is a miasma of incandescent plasma"

      Not quite as catchy a tune as the first one, but still a good song.

      • Using satellite images of these loops, which can be over 60,000 miles long, the scientists were able to recreate the sound by turning the visible vibrations into noises and speeding up the frequency so it is audible to the human ear.

        So they didn't actually record it, they just recreated it. Which means there is a possibility they are wrong. In which case they may have the right tune but the wrong lyrics or vice versa.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 21, 2010 @11:10AM (#32642306)

    http://www.shef.ac.uk/mediacentre/2010/1662.html [shef.ac.uk]

    There's a soundcloud link on that page as well (which I can't get to because I'm at work, but I imagine it has a load of 'sun music').

    It really irks me that newspaper websites don't link to original sources... its not like putting a URL in print... it'd mean if people were interested, they could simply click and find out more.
    Silly newspaper website making people.

    • "It really irks me that newspaper websites don't link to original sources... its not like putting a URL in print... it'd mean if people were interested, they could simply click and find out more.
      Silly newspaper website making people."

      Absolutely, I can't believe the number of so called professional articles, even ones entirely about a website, that at no point actually link the website in question leaving you to hunt around for it instead.

      If they're strangely worried they would be promoting the page's rank (

  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @11:10AM (#32642316)

    "Look here Cap'n, if I play it back at 10 times speed. Now I figure that's gotta be manmade."

    Seriously, this isn't music, its something which happens to have a harmonic. They diddle the frequencies to the 20-20kHz range and pretend its "sun music".

    • by dkh2 ( 29130 )

      And what would a /.er know about the frequency of diddling?

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      pretty much.
      It's crappy pseudo science.
      And nothing new, u can't beat the original Voyager recordings of Jupiter!!


    • Seriously, this isn't music, its something which happens to have a harmonic. They diddle the frequencies to the 20-20kHz range and pretend its "sun music".

      If you want to hear real "sun music, try the band SUN O)))". They're similar not just in name, but their (admittedly dark, drone, experimental) music isn't too far removed from the "music" posted in the article.


    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tool462 ( 677306 )

      Doesn't seem any different to me, in spirit, to the color-enhanced photos taken by the Hubble telescope.

      http://hubblesite.org/gallery/behind_the_pictures/meaning_of_color/index.php [hubblesite.org]

      • Second. I also do not mind the pitching down (or up) in order to 'make' the thing audible. In pretty much the same spirit of color processing/enhancement, it 'normalizes' the emissions into a hearing range- this can give one tools to perform more intuitive science, something that always encapsulates a potential for further discoveries- why not 'see' in UV or IR or whatever, since we do have the means to do so? I have to agree though that this technique is decade's old, and probably our fellows just crave me

    • by Alef ( 605149 )
      ...and a symphony is just a bunch of harmonic pressure waves at the same time. Seriously though, not that I would call this groundbreaking news in any way, but I do at least find it kind of fascinating to hear how "instrument like" the Alfvén waves of a coronal mass ejection apparently sounds like. The fact that you have to shift the waveform in the frequency domain to the audible region to be able to listen to it doesn't make the waveform itself less interesting. It's exactly the same thing they do wi
  • Had no idea the sun paid that exorbitant licensing fee! I guess we'll need a bigger telescope to see the THX sticker.
  • Music (Score:5, Funny)

    by aBaldrich ( 1692238 ) on Monday June 21, 2010 @11:21AM (#32642500)
    Never gonna give you up...
  • I'm more of a fan of NASA's Symphonies Of The Planets: http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/2009/09/15/symphonies-of-the-planets/ [howstuffworks.com]

    Beautiful, haunting, ethereal and contemplative.

    • Beautiful, haunting, ethereal and contemplative.

      You just lost 95% of the readers of this site. When it comes to appreciating the fine arts, most slashdotters make great engineers.

      • I phrased it wrong. This is not music, it's recorded deep space EM activity.

        I guess I should have said 'excellently recorded from the electromagnetic signals detected and beamed back by Voyager I and II, consisting of charged particle emissions, solar winds and the electromagnetic field noise of space itself - will provoke in all along the autistic spectrum a rational observation of the logical necessity for awe.'

  • For me sounds like Aphex Twin sounds from Mathematical equation track.
  • Now we know what music Disaster Area were playing!
  • Funny thing is, I learned about the following concept in sophomore year at university: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_of_the_spheres [wikipedia.org], and now I've learned that there may actually be music in outer space...
  • they should seriously consider making a 10 minute 'music clip' and sell it. I'd have bought the sample.
  • Was it the Silversun Pickups? [rimshot!]

    If I hear that Panic Switch song one more time... Ever notice how it sounds like a Garbage song? I studied that, and made the decision that it just sounds like all of them.

    • Lots of music sounds similar, usually because it is. Take a look at this... 4 Chord Song [youtube.com]
      • This is why I like Nine Inch Nails. If it is not a remix, it sounds totally unique:
        Pretty Hate Machine
        The Downward Spiral
        The Fragile
        Year Zero
        The Slip

        • This is partly because Trent kind of defined his own genre but NIN is basically post-industrial electronic rock and there are lots of bands since that have attempted to emulate his sound, and he has worked with these bands and helped them. Love NIN but they not the cutting edge they used to be around Downward Spiral era. Trent also did a lot of production work for David Bowie so his influence comes through other artists from there as well.

          These days I'm really into a SF label called Muti Music that pumps ou

  • I'm only half serious of course but the title of this article is the name of her debut album, pre-ridiculous hair.
  • And all we get is a stinkin 3 second sound byte? What the hay??

    I was expecting some grand thing..along the lines of "the sounds of the planets". Come on, at least make this sun thing at least 60 seconds long.

    What's there - well I could have whipped that up myself in sound forge or gnural....

  • When will they learn that raw data converted to sound isn't music?
  • If those blasted 14 cent plastic horns made from recycled appliance parts are considered "music", than everything is musical. Science OVAH!
  • No doubt we will soon be treated to recordings of the music of the spheres.
  • If we play it backwards, does it tell us to worship the moon?

  • Also, reminds me of Win NT start-up sound.

  • Lately it just seems like it's sold out to the man. What happened to you, sun? You used to be cool.
  • Symphonies Of The Planets - NASA Voyager Recordings on CDs, released I believe in the early 90s.
  • What a wonderful breakthrough for the World Music Day! I wish more Sun music will be made available shortly by our beloved scientists. Meanwhile, I will keep tuned to white noise radio : http://www.whitenoise.fm/ [whitenoise.fm] Long life to random music!
  • OK, I was wrong. The world will end this year when the RIAA sends a "cease and desist" order to the Sun.

  • I believe Dr. Fiorella Terenzi was doing something this a long time ago:

    Dr. Fiorella Terenzi, an itialian astrophysicist, has captured radio waves from a distant galaxy 180 million light years from Earth, converted cosmic waves into sound and transformed the sound into music.

    You may never have heard anything like Dr. Fiorella Terenzi's music, but you may recognize the musicians on her 1991 album, Music From the Galaxies. On lead vocals: Jupiter! ("It whistles," she says.) On rhythm guitar: the Sun! ("It bubbles like boiling water.") On drums: pulsars! ("A precise beating time") On bass: Mother Earth! ("It has a very low frequency.") Astrophysicist Terenzi assembled her cosmic combo while studying at UC-San Diego. Using radio telescopes and computer sound-synthesis technology, she intercepted space signals and transformed them into tunes.

    Her albums [fiorella.com]

    Pic [wordpress.com]

  • Any pseudo-oscillatory time series data can have the X axis stretched or compressed to make it able to be used as an audible signal. That's trivial in terms of both technique and result. It was interesting that someone thought of it decades ago, but the result wasn't. This isn't interesting in either sense, despite the harmonics which might make it sounds more like what we consider music. It's not going to sound like music, it's going to sound like noise with harmonics just like the last dozen data sets to

  • Hotblack Desiato is trying to gather back the band after his prolonged vacations. At the moment he tours the outskirts of the galaxy, basking in the shadow of yesteryear's triumph; although the spaceships aren't thrown in the sun, anymore, just orbiting. Less expensive this way, given the galaxial economic crisis.

  • "On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone-while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?" Job 38:6-7 (NIV)

  • It's not unusual for new bands to basically rip off the sounds of prior generations and foist them off on their peers as "original" but I didn't realize that astrophysicists did this as well! Almost 20 years ago I had the chance to abuse listeners of my late night college radio show by playing tracks from "Music from the Galaxies," a CD of "songs" derived from the signal data of radio astronomy. The auteur behind this project was Italian astrophysicist Dr. Fiorella Terenzi [wikipedia.org], who aside from having dual PhD's

"Survey says..." -- Richard Dawson, weenie, on "Family Feud"