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.
Apparently, these kids and their dad James Kochalkastarted 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”?
According to Pitchfork’s “The Decade in Noise”, Eye Yamatsuka (of the Boredoms) while performing with his band Hanatrash in 1985 drove a backhoe through the back wall of the venue and proceeded to rip up the stage. Sadly, I couldn’t find an audio recording but there is a slideshow of grainy black-and-white photographs.
Here is a video of Hanatrash from a similar period.
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.’
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.