Sound of the first million years

If you can ignore the initial ultra-cheesy graphic (not the one above, which is the Cosmic Microwave Background), Mark Whittle’s article on the unpacking of the sound of the universe after the Big Bang is fascinating.  It turns out that in space, people can hear you scream… at least, during the first million years you can.  A few interesting quotes (emphasis Whittle’s), and a simulation of the sound:

… the Big Bang started out utterly silent! The initial expansion was absolutely pure and “radial” – no parts were catching up any other parts, and hence there were no pressure waves, and hence no sound. All was quiet.

… [at the time of the Big Bang] the Universe was much smaller (by at least a factor of 1000), and all the matter we now find in stars and galaxies was spread out uniformly. Add to this the fact that the young Universe was also much hotter, and we learn that over the first million years, all of space was filled with a hot thin uniform glowing gas, a billion times denser than the current cosmic density. Not only did the Universe have an atmosphere – in a sense, it was an atmosphere. It was within this atmosphere that sound waves could form and move in the young Universe.

… How do we measure the pressure variations in the primordial atmosphere? Simple: we look at the brightness variations on the CMB. These variations tell us the strength of the pressure waves were between one ten-thousandth (10-4) and one hundred thousandth (10-5). So these correspond to around 110 decibels. This is neither inaudibly quiet nor lethally loud: it is powerfully loud — it is about as loud as a rock concert!

This is what the universe sounded like, shifted up 50 octaves (to be audible) and compressed into 10 seconds.

Via: Mark Whittle


Apparently, these kids and their dad James Kochalka started a band named “KaBoomBoom” over their holiday break.  Three songs in total, my favorite is below; how can you beat a song called “Little Robots” and the lyrics “lasers and axes and swords and bombs”?

Uncanny Valley

The Uncanny Valley is a dip in likability of replications of humans (robots, zombies, puppets, etc) as they approach “human-ness”.  I wonder where paintings and sculptures of humans comes into this.

Holmgren’s permaculture principles as studio practice?

David Holmgren’s “12 Design Principles” are intended for permaculture, but seem completely applicable to a studio practice.

  1. Observe and interact – By taking the time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
  2. Catch and store energy – By developing systems that collect resources when they are abundant, we can use them in times of need.
  3. Obtain a yield – Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
  4. Apply self-regulation and accept feedback – We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
  5. Use and value renewable resources and services – Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behaviour and dependence on non-renewable resources.
  6. Produce no waste – By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
  7. Design from patterns to details – By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
  8. Integrate rather than segregate – By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
  9. Use small and slow solutions – Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
  10. Use and value diversity – Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
  11. Use edges and value the marginal – The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
  12. Creatively use and respond to change – We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.

Via: Wikipedia

The very interesting has lots of random integer, Keno numbers, jazz scale, etc generators on their site.  My two favorites are:

Random location

Random Geographic Coordinates – plan a vacation this way? You can contact twiddy rentals to rent a beautiful place next to the beach, I have had awesome experiences with them.


Random Bitmap Generator – not that this is that hard to do with simple programming, but a nice and simple interface for those not inclined

Jerry Saltz’s art “Millenium Prize”

In a strange turn of events, Jerry Saltz has apparently beat me to an idea that I had over the weekend while reading about the Millenium Prize problems.  According to this ArtInfo article, Saltz has offered $10k to anyone who can prove that painting is dead.  While I don’t have a Facebook account to read the exact post, I did find this excerpt:

My esteemd friend Howard Halle says “It’s a widely held belief … that painting is dead.” Come on! No one has actually believed this since at least the Nixon administration! The ‘P. is D.’ canard is dead rhetoric, a way to keep art boxed in. Mediums don’t die until all of the problems they were invented to solve are solved. If anyone can prove that P. is D. I will give them a $10,000 ‘Jerry Saltz Tautology Prize.’

MP3 sounds better?

From the NY Times “Year in Ideas”:

In February, a music professor at Stanford, Jonathan Berger, revealed that he has found evidence that younger listeners have come to prefer lo-fi versions of rock songs to hi-fi ones. For six years, Berger played different versions of the same rock songs to his students and asked them to say which ones they liked best. Each year, more students said that they liked what they heard from MP3s better than what came from CDs. To a new generation of iPod listeners, rock music is supposed to sound lo-fi. Good enough is now better than great.