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With year reviews all around the internet, I sadly couldn't find a playlist of noises for 2016. So I made my own, since I thought it would be nice to quiz my family on New Year's Eve on what it could be and why it's in the playlist. It wasn't easy, I wanted to have at least 10 items, but even with my listening to science podcast all year long, I had four to start with.

Maybe you'll enjoy this as much as I do, maybe you'll even find it interesting or quiz your own friends and family. I have saved the playlist on YouTube, but here's my more detailed explanation of the whole thing:
  1. LIGO Gravitational Wave Chirp

    Arguably the most important scientific discoveries of the year. Not to be confused with gravity waves (which are "normal" waves bouncing because of gravity, like what water does), gravitational waves stretch space and there's no way to stop them. Einstein predicted this 1916, 100 years ago, but he wasn't sure if we'd ever be able to detect them, because they're so incredibly small. It took us 40 years of research, two massive black holes colliding and incredibly precise measurements to finally record some this year. And this is what it sounds like when converted to sound.

    This is great, it's a totally new way of "listening" to the universe, I can't imagine what we'll find given precise enough instruments.
  2. Will you mary me?

    There's a long-held belief that monkeys can't speak because they lack the anatomy. As usual, truth resists simplicity. While there likely was some kind of co-evolution of voice and vocal anatomy in humans, allowing us to be more articulate than with what monkeys have, this computer simulation of a Macaque does sound good enough - especially when compared to what a human would sound like. It seems like the brain is the limiting factor here.
  3. "Biotwang" mysterious sound in the Mariana Trench

    This metallic-sounding mystery noise might be aliens! It's never been heard before! OK, it's not aliens... it's the kind of sound a baleen whale makes. But it's still interesting, because it's quite distinct and we don't know what it means yet.
  4. Song of the Himalayan Forest Thrush

    I love that we find and describe new species every so often. Most species found are arthropods, fish... and birds. And this one has a nice song, too.
  5. WaveNet

    What you hear is not an exotic language, but it might as well be. Google's company DeepMind specialises in AI and tries to synthesize the human voice based on their own AI neural network. This differes from the usual text-to-speach programs, which use audio fragments and put them together. And it's way better. I only included the made-up words the program came up with, but of course it's more than capable to generate English or Mandarin sentences.
  6. Song of the Red-Bellied Pitta

    It is not uncommon that we think we know a species - and don't. The red-bellied pitta is one such example. It was first described in 1834 and it's now threatened due to habitat loss. At least, most of it is. Because as of this year, we know that this is in fact 13 distinct species.
  7. Dawn Chorus of Fish

    Did you know fish make noise? That's not news. What is news is that they increase their noise around dusk and dawn - much like birds do. At least for some species near Port Hedland, Western Australia (continuously throughout the year for Type VII. This brings us a step closer to understand the vastly complex ecosystems they have underwater.
  8. "Music" on the Far Side of the Moon

    Another mystery sound. And this time, it's aliens, right? It comes from the moon and the government hid it, only releasing it now! Well... not quite.

    First of all, NASA didn't withhold this 1969 recording of the pre-Neil Armstrong moon orbiting mission, it was published long ago. But they published a digitized version, making it more available for the public.

    Second, it's not aliens. Come on. This is simple radio interference. Most likely the radios in the landing module and the command module communicated with each other, no aliens involved.
  9. Giraffe hum

    By now, we know that foxes quite eloquently have a repertoire of vocabulary to answer Ylvis's question. But what does the giraffe say? Turns out... we didn't know. Until 2015, that is. Giraffes... hum.

    Wait... last year? What about this year? Well... remember what I said about thinking that we know about a species? That's right. giraffes aren't a species any more. They're a genus, which is the next bigger category, containing four extant (living) species.

    By the way, giraffes are threatened. So become part of people who love giraffes who love giraffes and educate yourself on the wonderful world of giraffe sex.
  10. Adobe VoCo

    This is very interesting. I know this will cause some discussion.
    If you want to learn about what is marketed as "Audio Photoshop", you might want to check out Adobe's full video - I chose a segment on YouTube that's easier to fit into the quiz format.

    At first, this sounds like Adobe's version of AudaCity or other audio editing programs. But then, it looks like it integrated speech recognition. And then, they swap words around in the sentence. OK. That's pretty cool...
    But then, they add in something the speaker never said at all! All you need for that is 20 minutes of the person's voice. They're working hard at making it harder to make it distinguishable for humans and also easier to make it detectable, right now they have some sort of watermark.
  11. Rosetta's Comet sounds like this

    I ended the playlist with a story that stuck with me for the last few years: Rosetta and the Philae lander, going after a comet called 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko after travelling through space for 10 years. Many of us crossed our fingers when Philae tried to land on the comet... and then nothing. Now we know that Philae actually made it on the surface of Chury, but it had some problems.

    Anyway, this is what the magnetic oscillations sounds when converted to sound, 10 000 times sped up. It's amazing. It even spawned a song by Andrew Huang, check that, a whole album. It was recordeed two years ago, but the Rosetta orbiter ended its mission by crashing into the comet.
And with that, I hope you don't stress yourself too much to start the year just right, I'm sure you'll be fine without resolutions or arbitrary new beginnings. =) Happy new year!
  • Listening to: Andrew Huang's Comet album
  • Reading: Prince of Thorns
  • Watching: Dinner for One (look it up, it's German tradition)
  • Eating: chocoloate!
  • Drinking: hot chocolate
luisbc Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2016
Himalayan Forest ThrushHeart 
RetSamys Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
I know, beautiful song, right?
luisbc Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2017
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