Audible science

A little background: I used to work with the VR Cube at KTH. It was a device for real-time wrap-around computer graphics, and was on a platform almost three metres above the floor. One of the projects I worked on was the sonification (turning into sound) of molecular dynamics simulations. I never got very far for various reasons, one of them simply the lack of good tools compatible with the graphics environment. In particular I remember one time when I tested an audio library I had found and just set the mapping to some random values to see (hear) what would happen, walked into the Cube, closed the movable front screen, and ran the program. Accidentally I had found the Sound That Causes Panic and was playing it at a very high volume. In my desperate attempt to shut it off I almost ran the wrong way, through the back screen where only the concrete floor far below would break the fall. Luckily I caught myself just in time, turned and got out through the door instead to press Ctrl-C (tricky when your hands are over your ears).

Ben Goldacre at Bad Science has dug up several sonifications that do not cause panic and the commenters chime in with several more.

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