If you define sound as periodic rarefications and compressions of a gas
medium, then this is not a sound. What has been detected, over all that
distance and time, is electromagnetic radiation. By the same token, the
signals traveling through your audio cables are not sound. They are
electrical signals ANALOGOUS to a sound event. Takes a transducer such
as a microphone or speaker to convert between the two.
It's easy to confuse them, I remember some confusion about it coming up
in my electroacoustics class in EE school. The point of the story, I
think, is that the frequency of the electromagnetic signal detected was
such that, if it were a sound, it would be the pitch indicated. Not
very precise scientific journalism, calling it a sound.
BTW, the speed of light needs to be used instead of the speed of sound
in the wavelength calculation.
Talk to Stewart Brand and the Long Now folks.. (Google those and see
what you get!)
From: Walter Knapp
Sent: Friday, September 19, 2003 10:36 AM
Subject: Re: [Nature Recordists] the lowest natural sound yet detected
Eric V. Schmidt wrote:
> Hello again;
> "The ripples are separated by about 35,000 light-years-which produces
> B-flat 57 octaves below middle C." Does this mean that the wavelength
> frequency is 1 per 35,000 light years? That would be a wave length os
> x 10 to the 19th power. Is that right? That is one low sound
I'm not so sure calling it a sound is correct. Since it's traveling
through space, at best it's got a very thin gas to travel through.
Yes, wavelength of 35,000 light years. Meaning one cycle is going to
take a very, very long time to pass us. Since it's probably not
traveling at the speed of light, even longer.
This goes along with the music piece "As Long as Possible" which is
being played in Europe on a Organ. As I remember, the piece was going to
take over 600 years to complete playing once. Each note takes years, the
rest at the beginning took seven years. PBS had a program bit on it.
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