Deep beneath the border of France and Switzerland, the world’s most massive physics machine is sending subatomic particles smashing into each other at speeds nearing the speed of light. Physicists working with the 17-mile-long Large Hadron Collider hope it will help solve some of the universe’s mysteries.
But first, researchers must overcome two very mundane hurdles: how to handle all of the data the LHC generates, and how to get non-scientists to care. One physicist has a novel way to solve both problems: sound.
It goes up to eleven
As Dr Lily Asquith, one of the team, explains: “Sound seems the perfect tool with which to represent the complexity of the data; our ears are superb at locating the source and location of sounds relative to one another, we can hear a vast range of frequencies and distinguish timbres (different instruments) before they have even played a full cycle.
“We also have an incredible ability to notice slight changes is pitch or tempo over time and to recognize patterns in sound after hearing them just once.
“A simple example of sonification is the car parking sensor that informs you of the space behind you via a beeping sound. The distance between you and the car behind you is mapped to the period of the sound, so that small distances produce a series of beeps that are very close together in time.”