Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Celestial Harmonies at the Large Hadron Collider

A novel take on the music of the spheres can be found at CERN this week. Some ingenious boffin - well, actually, a Dr Lily Asquith, which doesn't sound boffin-ish at all - is about to start converting data from the Large Hadron Collider into sound, in the hope of hearing the 'God Particle', the elusive Higgs Boson.

It gets better - Dr Asquith explains to the New Scientist's CultureLab, "I was sitting in on a rehearsal with some musician friends in an improvisational electronic/brass band called WORM under a railway arch in Brixton. I was talking about particle physics to my long-suffering friend Eddie Real, a percussionist.

I was actually doing impersonations of different particles and trying to get him to develop them on his electronic drum kit. Another band member, Ed, got very excited and asked if it would be possible to do this properly- - extract sounds directly from the data. "

The LHC people have helpfully provided samples of initial simulations, which sound uncannily like the sort of avant-garde orchestral pieces that leave you wondering what time the tune's going to start and why you paid good money for this.

It's too early to tell what the results will be, but wouldn't it be wonderful if, when the Higgs Boson finally puts in an appearance, it actually sounds something like this.... ?

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