Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Simple rubber device mimics complex bird songs

Date:
November 22, 2010
Source:
American Institute of Physics
Summary:
Scientists have reproduced many of the characteristics of real bird song with a simple physical model made of a rubber tube.

For centuries, hunters have imitated their avian prey by whistling through their fingers or by carving wooden bird calls. Now a team of physicists at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has reproduced many of the characteristics of real bird song with a simple physical model made of a rubber tube.

"We wanted to know if you [could] build a simple device, which has minimal control but reproduces some non-trivial aspects of bird song," says L Mahadevan, a professor at Harvard. The work was presented at the American Physical Society Division of Fluid Dynamics meeting in Long Beach, CA on November 21.

Bird song -- a complex sound full of intricate patterns and rich harmonics -- has long been studied by neuroscientists. Their research has explained much about how young birds learn these songs from adults and the complex neurological changes that allow them to control their voices.

But Aryesh Mukherjee, a graduate student in Mahadevan's laboratory, suggests that this neural control need not be as complicated as it could be. He suspects that the physics of a bird's vocal tract could explain much of the complexity of its voice, even with relatively simple neural control.

His bird call device consists of an air source, which creates a flow through a stretched rubber tube (modeled after a bird's vocal tract), and a linear motor that presses on the tube in a fashion analogous to a contracting muscle.

"Using this very simple device that pokes a tube, I see these beautiful sounds being produced without a sophisticated controller," says Mukherjee.

When analyzed on a spectrogram, the harmonics and other characteristics of the sounds made by the physical model closely resemble the songs of a zebra finch.

Another researcher in the lab, Shreyas Mandre, now an assistant professor at Brown University, is building mathematical models that seek to capture some of the underlying principles. His model, which represents the voice as a stretched string with dampened vibrations, creates digital bird calls that are also very similar to the real thing.

"Once we understand the physics better, we'll be able to mimic the sound much better," says Mandre.

The principles underlying the models aren't limited to single species of birds. The researchers believe that -- with a few tweaks -- their models could mimic a variety of bird calls.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Institute of Physics. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Institute of Physics. "Simple rubber device mimics complex bird songs." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101121160224.htm>.
American Institute of Physics. (2010, November 22). Simple rubber device mimics complex bird songs. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 3, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101121160224.htm
American Institute of Physics. "Simple rubber device mimics complex bird songs." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101121160224.htm (accessed September 3, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Snack Attack: Study Says Action Movies Make You Snack More

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) You're more likely to gain weight while watching action flicks than you are watching other types of programming, says a new study published in JAMA. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Get A Mortgage, Receive A Cat — Only In Russia

Get A Mortgage, Receive A Cat — Only In Russia

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) The incentive is in keeping with a Russian superstition that it's good luck for a cat to be the first to cross the threshold of a new home. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

U.N. Says Ebola Travel Restrictions Will Cause Food Shortage

Newsy (Sep. 2, 2014) The U.N. says the problem is two-fold — quarantine zones and travel restrictions are limiting the movement of both people and food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

Sharks Off the Menu and on the Tourist Trail in Palau

AFP (Sep. 2, 2014) Tourists in Palau clamour to dive with sharks thanks to a pioneering conservation initiative -- as the island nation plans to completely ban commercial fishing in its vast ocean territory. 01:15 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins