Monday, June 14, 2004

The Universe's Birth-Song

This is cool.
You can listen to the sound from the first million years after the big bang here (0.5 Mb .wav file). The sound has been compressed to five seconds, with the volume held constant.

Whittle played the soundtrack at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Denver last week. Contrary to its name, the big bang began in absolute silence. But the sound soon built up into a roar whose broad-peaked notes corresponded, in musical terms, to a "majestic" major third chord, evolving slowly into a "sadder" minor third, Whittle explained.

For those worried that you cannot have sounds in space, that is true today, but it was not so in the Universe's infancy. For perhaps its first million years, the Universe was small and dense enough that sound waves could indeed travel through it - so efficiently, in fact, that they moved at about half the speed of light.

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