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NASA translates Hubble images to music


Well, loosely interpreted, music. See what you think of the sonification. Is there music in the spheres after all?

Space becomes “sonified” in this visualization of a cluster of galaxies imaged by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Time flows left to right, and the frequency of sound changes from bottom to top, ranging from 30 to 1,000 hertz. Objects near the bottom of the image produce lower notes, while those near the top produce higher ones. Most of the visible specks are galaxies housing countless stars. A few individual stars shine brightly in the foreground. Stars and compact galaxies create short, clear tones, while sprawling spiral galaxies emit longer notes that change pitch. The higher density of galaxies near the center of the image — the heart of this galaxy cluster, known as RXC J0142.9+4438 — results in a swell of mid-range tones halfway through the video. Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field Camera 3 acquired this image on Aug. 13, 2018.

Yer news writer is not a music buff. Guidance wanted.

Music of the spheres: “In ancient Greece, Pythagoras and his followers thought that celestial bodies made music…

“In the 17th century, Johannes Kepler picked up the idea, setting about to prove it in his Harmonices Mundi. Now working from a heliocentric, Copernican model of the universe, Kepler used Platonic geometry to determine the distances between planets and to further refine the harmonics of the universe, resulting in his “Third Law” determining the elliptical – not circular – motion of planets. Arthur Koestler quotes Kepler’s writing, showing that his theories came closer, mathematically, to proving planetary concord, despite the music’s literal inaudibility.

“Nevertheless, Kepler maintained their metaphorical and metaphysical sounding:

The heavenly motions are nothing but a continuous song for several voices (perceived by the intellect, not by the ear); a music which… progresses towards certain pre-designed, quasi six-voiced clausuras, and thereby sets landmarks in the immeasurable flow of time. (245)

– Sensory Studies
Well, it's not music, but it closely resembles a much earlier 'sonification' of 2D images. The Optophone was developed in 1918 to help blind folks read. It worked, but didn't catch on because it was entirely too 'fussy' and required a specific talent. Braille wasn't fussy. My narrative of the unique heroine Mary Jameson, and my modern software replication of the process, with sound: http://polistrasmill.blogspot.com/2020/02/miss-jameson-and-her-optophone.html polistra

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