Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

Music of the ages, universe carries a tune

By onyxruby in News
Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 11:36:38 AM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)

The big bang theory gained more credibility today with some news released by the National Science Foundation and collaborated by a United States team called Maxima with astronomers from the University of Minnesota and the University of California, Berkeley.

The soundwaves that were found are an impression of quantum scale energy fluctuations carried to earth by cosmic microwave background radiation. Scientists were able to measure the waves by looking at cosmic microwave background (CMB). These early soundwaves are thought to have created super and giant clusters of galaxies with their travel. The soundwaves are actually contained in primordial plasma. They are effectively overtones or harmonics of the big bang explosion that is said to have created the universe.

These soundwaves are important because they show two things that are important for understanding our universe in addition to solidifying the big bang AKA inflationary thoery.

  • First of note is that the study indicates that the universe is geometrically flat, not curved.
  • This study also gives credence to the thoery that most of the universe is composed of dark matter.
  • The discoveries were made by microwave detectors in Antartica, using baloons. The study involved only about 3 percent of the sky, and looked at temperature fluctuations of only 100-millionths of a degree celcius in the CMB.

    You will find that some of the links go the same pages, this was done for credit and reference purposes for individual points as they came up.


    Voxel dot net
    o Managed Hosting
    o VoxCAST Content Delivery
    o Raw Infrastructure


    The universe was created by
    o God 18%
    o Murphy 13%
    o Big bang 21%
    o Someone with a sick and twisted sense of humor 28%
    o Is only a dream, I don't really exist 18%

    Votes: 88
    Results | Other Polls

    Related Links
    o more
    o National
    o Maxima
    o Minnesota
    o Berkeley
    o plasma
    o overtones or harmonics
    o flat
    o dark
    o baloons.
    o Also by onyxruby

    Display: Sort:
    Music of the ages, universe carries a tune | 18 comments (17 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
    Where can I listen to these? (4.00 / 4) (#1)
    by delmoi on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 01:49:00 AM EST

    That certanly sounds intresting, but... why no links to actualy listen to this audio. I mean, this is the web, right. I'd like to see some mp3s, or something.
    "'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
    Good Luck. (3.66 / 3) (#2)
    by provolt on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 02:33:52 AM EST

    I wish you luck trying to find an mp3 of this. Mostly because it probably doesn't exist. If I read the article correctly, the "sound waves" are basically a metaphore for what happened. The cosmologists didn't listen to sound, the were able to observe compressions and rarefactions in the cosmic background radiation which roughly correspondes to compressions and rarefactions in the first few seconds after the big bang.

    If you you'd really like to hear something similar to it open up MATLAB or Scilab or a comparable program and do something like this:

    t = 0:.001:5
    y = cos(t) + .3*cos(2*t) + .1*cos(3*t) + .05*cos(5*t)

    [ Parent ]

    [ot] is this the provolt I think it is? (none / 0) (#10)
    by Luke Francl on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 09:32:27 PM EST

    I only know one guy named provolt...is that you? :-P

    [ Parent ]
    Hey how's it going? (1.00 / 1) (#14)
    by provolt on Tue May 01, 2001 at 02:43:33 PM EST

    Hey Luke!

    I haven't talked to you a very long time. (Actually doug and I were talking the other day and said something to that effect.) How's life?


    [ Parent ]

    <g> Heh! (none / 0) (#15)
    by Luke Francl on Tue May 01, 2001 at 06:58:09 PM EST

    Heh, heh! I thought it might be you. I'm doin' good...assuming I pass statistics anyway :) I'm going through my graduation cerimony deal on Friday.

    Say Hi to Doug for me. Do you have a website?

    [ Parent ]
    Sorta (1.00 / 1) (#16)
    by provolt on Tue May 01, 2001 at 08:16:02 PM EST

    I sorta have a website, it only has two graphics and maybe a little text. I haven't done much with it, perhaps I will this summer.

    Good luck on stats. Not graduating cuz of one class would suck. What are you doing after you get the degree?

    I'm going to Iowa this summer to work at Rockwell-Collins. I'm really looking forward to that because I think I'm going to get totally raped by my finals next week.

    Hurray for having personal discussion on public forums!

    [ Parent ]

    Cosmic Microwave Background (none / 0) (#13)
    by Mad Hughagi on Tue May 01, 2001 at 02:37:57 PM EST

    Technically, what we observe today are wavelength (and correspondingly frequency/energy)fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background.

    The cosmic microwave background is the left-over photons that were created during the big-bang. As time passes (and the universe expands), these photons gradually lose energy, stretching out their wavelengths. This corresponds to a "cooling" of the universe. Currently, the background radiation (which is really a giant soup of photons encompassing the whole of the known universe) is at the microwave wavelength scale. In observing the CMB, we find that it is very homogenous in every direction. (It looks the same no matter where you look). However, if you begin to study small fluctations in it, you can notice certain overall trends.

    To the first order, you see that it is the same everywhere, however, if you look a bit deeper (differences of about 10^-3 degrees Kelvin I think) you can start to notice that there is a general trend (anisotropy) that explains the Earths relative motion about the sun (This was the first observational proof that the Earth actually rotates about the sun, and not vice versa, with respect to other galactic objects - it took over 400 years to confirm! - and to think that pretty much all of the worlds population accepted it without proof for so long)

    The boomarang project (and some others like it... I forget the names) measures the temperature (wavelength, etc etc) of this background to very pricise values. As we study the CMB to more and more precision, we should be able to uncover trends on the "universe" scale relating to it's initial state. Inflation in the early universe would have an effect on the entire universe (including this background radiation) and therefor we should be able to find evidence of it in these measurements.

    Inflation is a term used to describe a period of time right after the initial release of the universe (big bang or whatever)in which space expanded at an accelerated rate. This supposidly allowed minute quantum effects in the early universe to propagate very quickly through the majority of the initial energy (matter, whatever)... allowing larger structures to form (galaxies, blah blah blah...).

    Without inflation, the matter in the universe would have been more or less homogeneously distributed on all scales (a matter soup, if you will), and therefor we wouldn't have had the concentrations neccessary to bring about star formation, planets... us.

    So finding evidence for this theory is a good thing... I suppose. ;)


    We don't make the products you like, we make you like the products we make.
    [ Parent ]

    Music at the beginning... (none / 0) (#3)
    by univgeek on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 05:58:12 AM EST

    One hindu myth says that the universe was first created by the sound 'Om'... I can hear all the devout saying that this is yet another proof of the existence of god... But you have to give credit for their imagination!
    Arguing with an Electrical Engineer is liking wrestling with a pig in mud, after a while you realise the pig is enjoying it!
    In Space, no one can hear you scream (2.00 / 1) (#4)
    by jabber on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 10:49:10 AM EST

    Sound, by definition, can not travel in the vacuum of space. If this is about the frequencies in cosmic background radiation then it's in no way a new discovery. In fact, the means by which we know the Universe to be expanding is the doppler shift of observed items. This is determined by observing the frequency of an object versus the the constant frequency of background radiation observable in all directions.

    We're never going to 'hear' the mentioned tones, rather, we might be able to render the observation of the 'shimmer' in the CMB the same way we rendered the magnetic field of Jupiter a few years ago.. But why bother going through the motions? Just tune any radio or TV to a dead channel and you'll hear a little bit of it among all the other noise.

    The write-up is a little vague, but points to interesting sources. +1 section.

    [TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

    clarification (4.00 / 1) (#6)
    by esonik on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 12:41:37 PM EST

    The "sound waves" onyxruby is talking about are compression waves in primordial plasma (i.e. when the Universe was very young) that manifest themselves today as temperature variations in CMB.

    [ Parent ]
    Re: clarification (none / 0) (#8)
    by PurpleBob on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 03:53:43 PM EST

    Thanks for the clarification - this means that these can in fact be considered sound waves, because space was not a vacuum when the Universe was being born.

    In fact, I suppose there are even sound waves in space now, as the occasional random particle collides with another. Just really slow, quiet waves.

    [ Parent ]
    From the Washington Post (4.00 / 1) (#7)
    by wiredog on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 01:57:42 PM EST

    Comes Joel Achenbach's commentary:

    "I wish, just once, the cosmologists would tell us whether the latest big discovery is a good thing or a bad thing. I wish they would say something like: "The data indicate acoustical oscillations in the cosmic microwave background radiation at the surface of last scattering. Run for your lives!!!!"

    The idea of a global village is wrong, it's more like a gazillion pub bars.

    Sounds Decoded! (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by physicsgod on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 06:37:42 PM EST

    Using a variety of algorithms researchers have come up with several possible decodings of the sound waves:
    1. "You're never going to get that all back in there."
    2. "What the hell?"
    3. "I told you not to push that button."
    4. "Oops."

    Have a nice day. :)

    --- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
    Harmony of the World (none / 0) (#11)
    by starbreeze on Tue May 01, 2001 at 10:09:41 AM EST

    This is interesting... People might be intrigued to know that the idea of these sound waves is nothing new though.

    I know there were earlier theories, but I definitely know Kepler published "Harmonies mundi"(Harmonies of the World) in the 1600's, in which each planet was given a series of musical notes based on its movements and orbit.

    Pythagoras also had a "Music of the Spheres" theory in which scholars believed celestial spheres had their own frequencies.

    There's something strangely musical about noise." ~Trent Reznor

    More interesting background (none / 0) (#12)
    by starbreeze on Tue May 01, 2001 at 10:29:27 AM EST

    OK... this is a little more topical about the actual big bang theory and not just the planet frequencies :)

    This is some more background, similar work done in the 1960's by Penzias and Wilson.


    There's something strangely musical about noise." ~Trent Reznor

    More details on this result (none / 0) (#17)
    by FredGray on Tue May 01, 2001 at 11:54:15 PM EST

    I was at the American Physical Society meeting last weekend where this result was announced. This is a big conference with lots of parallel sessions, and you have to read through the bulletin to figure out what talks you want to hear. I walked by the room where this announcement was being made, and it was really packed, with a big crowd watching from outside the door. You could really feel that people were excited there. So, I pushed my way in and listened to the end of the session.

    There are a few important details to add to this story:

    • Three separate experimental collaborations, using rather different techniques, all measured the CMB spectrum and came to the same conclusions. The agreement among their data is stunning. The story mentions MAXIMA; the other two are BOOMERANG and DASI. MAXIMA and BOOMERANG are balloon experiments, while DASI is ground-based.
    • The story states that "most of the universe is composed of dark matter." This isn't quite true. In fact, it is mostly composed of "dark energy" (vacuum energy, corresponding to a cosmological constant). The fractions are roughly 5% ordinary matter, 30% dark matter, and 65% dark energy.
    • The fit to the data gives that the age of the Universe is about 14 billion years.

    Informative (none / 0) (#18)
    by onyxruby on Wed May 02, 2001 at 12:54:00 AM EST

    Informative. I find what you say about dark energy to be interesting, I'll check it out.

    The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.
    [ Parent ]

    Music of the ages, universe carries a tune | 18 comments (17 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
    Display: Sort:


    All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
    See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
    Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
    Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
    My heart's the long stairs.

    Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!