These Students Put Out Fires with The Power of Bass

The next time you’re facing a life-threatening fire in, say, your kitchen, you may simply shout, “where’s the drop?” George Mason University engineering seniors Seth Robertson and Viet Tran have made a fire extinguisher that works entirely using sound. If you haven’t seen it making the social media rounds yet, of course, it’s worth posting here. Not only is it absurdly cool to watch, but it’s the latest reminder that music, sound engineering, and science can go hand in hand. That is, music is made of sound, and the study of sound overlaps with engineering and physics. In fact, this …


The Future of Music in Skin and Molecules, Now in Berlin

The music technology industry continues to pump out things with knobs, and things that sound like the 1970s – sometimes, literally so. And we love them for it. But if you feel dizzy after all this tumbling backwards in time, let us take you on a ride back into the future. It’s the reason we’re in Berlin and not Anaheim this week, and I think you’ll enjoy it. A lot. CDM joins again with CTM Festival to explore the possibilities for music’s future in an intensive laboratory of creation, featuring speakers, on-the-spot hacking and experimentation, and finally a live performance …


A Singing Comet: Hear and Remix a Comet’s Magnetic Oscillations, Lander Thump

The cosmos still offers up mysteries and surprises. And sometimes they sing to us – quite literally. Scientists were dazzled to discover that Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko was producing strange subsonic music, captured by a magnometer aboard the Rosetta orbiter. (That’s the orbiter that famously deposited the Philae lander; magnetic instruments also track the lander’s descent.) This is sound, just not sound we can hear – some unexpected interaction of the comet with the magnetic field around it at inaudibly low levels. So, who you gonna call to allow people to easily hear patterns in the data? Why, a composer, of course. …


Watch as a Live LHC Remix Makes Scientists Start Raving [Tim Exile at TEDx]

Watch the power of science meet the power of improvisation. You know how TED talks – or even DJing – normally goes. Some omnipotent person stands on stage and everyone watches. Well, this one went a bit differently. At at a TEDx event mounted by CERN (TEDx are independent of TED, though borrowing the format), Tim Exile took the stage with a live remix. But keep watching: the beats make the crowd go wild and start dancing, first raving around the floor, then storming the stage. It’s like the nerdiest Boiler Room ever. Tim Exile has been using this Reaktor …


A Sci-Fi Band and Music Made from Ozone Data: Elektron Drum Machine, Sax Sonification

In a new touring piece by an electrified audiovisual band, the musical score is data. Space F!ght, off to tour London on Sunday, are a multi-media ensemble inspired by the greatest writers in science fiction. But science fact is the source of their latest piece, as they collaborate with the Stockholm Environment Institute and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies to turn ozone data into the materials of their performance. That data has a message, as ozone levels directly impact human health. See the video at the top for a look at how the whole system works. Dr. Radek Rudnicki, …


Do It With Lasers: R&D Experiment Makes Drum Microphones, Triggers More Accurate

Sennheiser Element – Laser Drum Microphone System from Andy Greenwood on Vimeo. We cover a lot of experiments that make an interesting proof of concept, or that make performance, frankly, more difficult but in interesting ways. Here’s an idea that might just work. You know, like might actually make an existing technology better. The idea is this: rather than clumsily using gates to isolate individual drum mics, use lasers (“lazorrrs”) to measure vibration. And if the demo video is to be believed, it works damned well. You can use this to get better recordings, or use it to transform a …


When Plants Jam with Synths: Leslie Garcia’s Open Project Lets Plants Talk with Sound

Pulsu(m) Plantae _ project presentation from LessNullVoid on Vimeo. You may have seen a plant used as a musical instrument before, by measuring capacitance across the leafy life form and turning it into a touch sensor. This is something different: it’s letting the plant itself express communication through sound, using biofeedback to turn the living systems on the plant into something audible. It is a synth jam, made by a plant, that tells you something about what the plant is sensing about the world around it. From Tijuana, México, media artist and musician Leslie Garcia shares the latest iteration of …


Fiction Science and Beats: Kid Sundance, a Lab, and Walnuts in Anti-Music Video

Defying the laws of Science and the rules of How To Make a Music Video, Kid Sundance’s “Tech City” gets a … somewhat peculiar short film. There are pickles, and glowing cubes, and colored goo, and singing walnuts turned into juice. There are geeky guys speaking in faux science. And there is this line, which is to me the apt description of every nerdter’s dream electronic music studio: These are things that we weren’t looking for – and we don’t know what any of this stuff does – but we’re still collecting the data, nonetheless. Oh, I love this one! …

Mark Fell investigates nanostructures and dancing particles. A visual reveals some of those Brownian Motion-produced forms. Photo courtesy Mark Fell.

Nanomusic: Mark Fell Turns to Neuroscience and High-Power Microscopes for Particle Music

Making new sounds means doing more than just making new sounds. Artist/composer Mark Fell (also known as half of SND) dives directly into the thorny question of form. And when he looks for new forms, he literally looks. The visually-trained artist speaks about making “non-representational” music in the same way an abstract artist might. (No surprise that arresting imagery invariably accompanies his work.) And in his latest creation, he looks even further, collaborating with a neuroscientist to peer at tiny particles through a high-power optical microscope. The result is alien music, constructed from the dance of those nanostructures. The work …


Holy S*** Visualization: Earth, Surrounded by Asteroids, and the 500k Kilometer Pixel

Watch this one in HD – because at 1080p, each pixel represents some 500,000 kilometers. And sit down: you may suddenly feel … exposed. (Duck!) The latest version of a popular visualization of asteroid discovery now brings high definition. And that’s important, because we’re talking about distances and data on the scale of the solar system. The video comes to us via Scott Manley, who has the awesome tagline, “Hacker, Astronomer, Gamer, DJ, Scotsman.” (His YouTube channel also contains a ridiculously cool-looking game where you run your own space program. And I thought Civilization was addictive nerd catnip; I’m staying …