The Real Music of the Spheres: Notes from the Universe talk credits

Notes from the Universe: The Real Music of the Spheres
A talk for Notes from the Universe, Southbank, London, UK
by Honor Harger, 11 March 2013

Just as the cartographers of the past worked hand-in-hand with artists who illustrated and interpreted the new worlds they discovered, our Universe is currently being visualised and sonified by artists and musicians today. We might think of the work they are doing to sonify the natural transmissions of the stars as the real music of the spheres. As the Nobel Physics Laureate, George Smoot III has said, if – as Kepler and Pythagorus – suggested, “the universe is, at some level, music, then it seems only natural that we should study it with musical tools of thinking.”
This talk focuses on how we have used sound to learn about the Universe, and how artists and musicians have created some of the most powerful expressions of the Universe in sound.

Credits and References

Thank you to all the artists and scientists who inspired this talk.


Particle Decelerator:

Slide design: Thanks to Jamie Wyld

Title slide: The Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder (ASKAP):

Artworks/projects/quotations referenced in introduction:

data.tron by Ryoji Ikeda (2010) exhibited at transmediale.10, Berlin
Swell by Anthony McCall (2006), exhibited at the Reg Vardy Gallery in Sudnerland, as part of AV Festival 2006
from one to many by Yvette Mattern (2010), shown at transmediale.10, Berlin
Evolution of Fearlessness by Lynette Wallworth shown at Brighton Festival 2011:
They Watch the Moon (2010) in Geographies of Seeing by Trevor Paglen (2012) at Lighthouse, October-November 2012:
– Adam Rutherford, speaking at Lighthouse, February 2013:
Mesopotamian Dramatugies (Su & Mayhem) by Kutlug Ataman (2011), exhibited at Brighton Festival 2011:
Immaterials: Light Painting WiFi by Timo Arnall (2011) shown at Invisible Fields, Barcelona 2011-12:
Frequency & Volume by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, shown at Invisible Fields:
Radio Astronomy by r a d i o q u a l i a (2004-2008):
– Quotation by George Smoot III from “Sound: The Music of the Universe” by Mark Ballora and George Smoot III, Huffington Post, 23 February 2013:

Artworks/projects/quotations referenced in Heliocentrics section:

– Quotations by Douglas Kahn from “Radio was discovered before it was invented” (2006): &
Aeriology by Joyce Hinterding, exhibited at the Reg Vardy Gallery in Sunderland, as part of AV Festival 2008:
20Hz by Semiconductor, co-commissioned by Lighthouse for Invisible Fields:
– Kepler-37b story via “NASA’s Kepler Mission Discovers Tiny Planet System”, 20 February 2013:
5 Minute Oscillations of the Sun by Caroline Devine (2012):
– BiSON, the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Birmingham:

My thanks to Douglas Kahn, who’s work inspired the first part of this section, including the anecdote about Thomas Watson.

Artworks/projects/quotations referenced in Beyond the Pale Blue Dot section:

Harnessing Wild Electricities from Outer Space by Thomas Ashcraft 2011-12, produced for Invisible Fields:
Time Dilation Experiments by Thomas Ashcraft:
– Quotations by Thomas Ashcraft from an interview on National Public Radio, quoted in “Thomas Ashcraft: Artist as Electro-receptor” (2009):
– Radio and Plasma Wave Group at The University of Iowa:
– Image of Galileo spacecraft drifting in space after deployment from the Space Shuttle Atlantis, October 1989:
– Quotation from Donald Gurnett from the NASA Solar System Explorer website:
– Image of the RWPS antenna, on-board Cassini:
sideralia #01 ionosphere by TeZ and Honor Harger, released on leerraum, 2010:

Thank you to Thomas Ashcraft, Don Gurnett and his team the University of Iowa and TeZ.

Works/projects/quotations referenced in Quantum Leap section:

– Images of simulations of the Higgs boson, ATLAS group, CERN:
– Quotation by Neil Turok from “The Cyclic Universe: A Talk With Neil Turok” on Edge (2007):
– Images of the Large Hadron Collider, from CERN:
– The LHC Sound Project:
– Quotation by Lily Asquith from “Particle Pings: Sounds Of The Large Hadron Collider” by Andrew Prince, NPR (2011):
– LHC Sound Project interpretation of how an emerging and decaying Higgs Boson may sound:

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