Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Oldest Recorded Sound + Antarctic Ocean In Real Time

Here are two audio goodies for you. The first is the oldest known recorded sound, found by audio historian David Giovannoni. It was made using a phonautograph, invented in Paris by Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville. This device worked by scraping patterns onto paper covered in oil lamp soot. Giovannoni discovered the resulting etchings in the French patent office, had them scanned, and then reconstituted the documents at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The selection is of a woman singing the folk-song "Au clair de la lune, Pierrot répondit." It dates, incredibly to 9 April 1860. Visit the First Sounds site for the actual audio file, and three other early wonders.

That recording is very short, but the next one is indefinitely long. The Perennial Acoustic Observatory in the Antarctic Ocean (PALAOA, which is Hawaiian for whale) transmits a realtime soundscape from the edge of the ice shelf. The primary reason is to research marine mammals, but the sounds of calving icebergs and other phenomena are apparent.

The hydrophones are powered by wind and sun from a location on the Ekström ice shelf, converted to data, and sent over wireless LAN to the Neumayer Base and hence to Germany. There's also a video feed for those of you who enjoy seeing grey landscapes change from medium to light grey. (I know I do.) Listen to the OGG or MP3 streams here.

Sure beats the radio.

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