Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Listening to the Big Bang -- in high fidelity

Date:
April 4, 2013
Source:
University of Washington
Summary:
Physicist have updated the decade-old re-creation of the sound of the Big Bang that started the universe.

The Planck satellite mission mapped light temperature differences on the oldest surface known — the background sky left billions of years ago when our universe first became transparent to light. Those differences helped to recreate the sound of the Big Bang.
Credit: European Space Agency/Planck Collaboration

A decade ago, spurred by a question for a fifth-grade science project, University of Washington physicist John Cramer devised an audio recreation of the Big Bang that started our universe nearly 14 billion years ago.

Related Articles


Now, armed with more sophisticated data from a satellite mission observing the cosmic microwave background -- a faint glow in the universe that acts as sort of a fossilized fingerprint of the Big Bang -- Cramer has produced new recordings that fill in higher frequencies to create a fuller and richer sound. (The sound files run from 20 seconds to a little longer than 8 minutes. See link at bottom of article.)

The effect is similar to what seismologists describe as a magnitude 9 earthquake causing the entire planet to actually ring. In this case, however, the ringing covered the entire universe -- before it grew to such gargantuan proportions.

"Space-time itself is ringing when the universe is sufficiently small," Cramer said.

In 2001, Cramer wrote a science-based column for Analog Science Fiction & Fact magazine describing the likely sound of the Big Bang based on cosmic microwave background radiation observations taken from balloon experiments and satellites.

A couple of years later that article prompted a question from a mother in Pennsylvania whose 11-year-old son was working on a project about the Big Bang: Is the sound of the Big Bang actually recorded anywhere?

Cramer answered that it wasn't -- but then began thinking that it could be. He used data from the cosmic microwave background on temperature fluctuations in the very early universe. The data on those wavelength changes were fed into a computer program called Mathematica, which converted them to sound. A 100-second recording represents the sound from about 380,000 years after the Big Bang until until about 760,000 years after the Big Bang.

"The original sound waves were not temperature variations, though, but were real sound waves propagating around the universe," he said.

Cramer noted, however, that the 2003 data lacked high-frequency structure. More complete data were recently gathered by an international collaboration using the European Space Agency's Planck satellite mission, which has detectors so sensitive that they can distinguish temperature variations of a few millionths of a degree in the cosmic microwave background. That data were released in late March and led to the new recordings.

As the universe cooled and expanded, it stretched the wavelengths to create "more of a bass instrument," Cramer said. The sound gets lower as the wavelengths are stretched farther, and at first it gets louder but then gradually fades. The sound was, in fact, so "bass" that he had to boost the frequency 100 septillion times (that's a 100 followed by 24 more zeroes) just to get the recordings into a range where they can be heard by humans.

Cramer is a UW physics professor who has been part of a large collaboration studying what the universe might have been like moments after the Big Bang by causing collisions between heavy ions such as gold in the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York.

Creating a sound profile for the Big Bang was something to do on the side, Cramer said.

"It was an interesting thing to do that I wanted to share. It's another way to look at the work these people are doing," he said.

Sound of the Big Bang are available in several lengths here: http://faculty.washington.edu/jcramer/BBSound_2013.html


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Washington. The original article was written by Vince Stricherz. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Washington. "Listening to the Big Bang -- in high fidelity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130404170154.htm>.
University of Washington. (2013, April 4). Listening to the Big Bang -- in high fidelity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130404170154.htm
University of Washington. "Listening to the Big Bang -- in high fidelity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130404170154.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Space & Time News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: China Launches Moon Orbiter

Raw: China Launches Moon Orbiter

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) China launched an experimental spacecraft Friday to fly around the moon and back to Earth in preparation for the country's first unmanned return trip to the lunar surface. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
China Prepares Unmanned Mission To Lunar Orbit

China Prepares Unmanned Mission To Lunar Orbit

Newsy (Oct. 23, 2014) The mission is China's next step toward automated sample-return missions and eventual manned missions to the moon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Russian Cosmonauts Kick Off Final Spacewalk of 2014

Reuters - US Online Video (Oct. 22, 2014) Russian cosmonauts Maxim Suraev and Alexander Samokutyaev step outside the International Space Station to perform work on the exterior of the station's Russian module. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Comet Siding Spring Grazes Mars' Atmosphere

Newsy (Oct. 19, 2014) A comet from the farthest reaches of the solar system passed extremely close to Mars this weekend, giving astronomers a rare opportunity to study it. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

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