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Sonic Wonderland. Join our email club Sign up to our newsletter to receive a whole range of exclusive benefits, including Updates on our upcoming offers and new releases Competitions Discounts All the latest news from the Bookshop team Simply enter your email address into the box below and click 'Join'. Many scientific studies have demonstrated that noise affects the performance of pupils because the students need to be able to hear the teacher and have a certain amount of quiet to learn.
The solution in the case of schools is to design and build them well, something that isn't always done. BNR: You set out to differentiate myth from reality when it comes to echoes. What surprised you the most about your experiments with echoes? TC: In the past, naturalists wrote about old echoes, documenting and cataloguing them as they would have done for any natural phenomena.
Some of the old tales seem unlikely to be true, like the echo that turned a single word into a whole sentence. I was surprised to find, however, that much less has been written about echoes in modern times. This made it very difficult for me to find sites with extraordinary examples. BNR: You also discuss the tricks your mind can play with those satanic messages people sometimes hear when they play rock songs backward. What's going on there? These satanic lyrics are heard only if you have a printed version in front of you.
The brain mistakenly matches the printed satanic lyrics to the otherwise incomprehensible backward murmurings. BNR: Some sounds are easier for our brains to ignore than others. TC: Our hearing is partly an early-warning system to pick up signs of danger. Consequently, our brains are listening out for changes in sound, like the crack of a twig, which might signify a foe creeping up on us. To maximize the chance of hearing danger signals, the brain needs to block out constant sounds, such as the wind moving through trees, or in modern life, the hum of the computer fan. BNR: You mention that people often respond strongly to the anechoic chamber at your university.
What does total silence sound and feel like? TC: The best anechoic chambers are designed to be so quiet that no sound enters your ear canals. The only things you hear are generated by your own body. You might hear blood moving through your head and a high-pitched hissing origiating from spontaneous firings on the auditory nerve. But the extraordinary quiet isn't the main reason why some visitors ask to leave the chamber. The walls, floor, and ceiling are covered in absorbent wedges that mean no sound reflects back to you when you talk. Some visitors find the disjoint between the visual and aural unsettling.
This is a room that has obvious walls to your eyes but can't be heard by your ears. BNR: Do you think silence is undervalued or overvalued? Is complete silence good? What about the noise of life? TC: Although cities thrive on human activity, vibrancy, and excitement, studies have shown that people need relatively quiet places for respite from the hustle and bustle. When visitors have been surveyed about what draws them to the countryside, a key feature is tranquility.
But that isn't silence. What people want are places where nature can be heard and man-made noises are minimized. BNR: You describe an interesting experiment in which people listened to the same sound but were given visual cues to make them think the sound was either the whoosh of traffic or the whoosh of sea. What are the lessons from that experiment? What role does vision have in our perception of sound? TC: The experiment showed that connectivity in the brain is altered if people think they are processing man-made noise from a road, compared to natural waves on a beach.
Like many current studies in neuroscience, knowing that the connectivity changes in the brains doesn't explain why this is happening or what the changes in the brain mean. But we can draw one important conclusion from the study as it demonstrates that tranquility is not just about what we hear; it's also affected by what we can see. BNR: What are "soundmarks"? Why are they important? TC: Soundmarks are keynote sounds that define a place.
They can be as varied as landmarks: In Vancouver, Canada, the Gastown steam clock marks time not with bells but with whistles; on the Orontes River in Hama, Syria, ancient waterwheels called norias let out loud groans as they slowly rotate; and my travels in the southwestern U. Globalization risks homogenization of what we hear; we need to celebrate and preserve sounds that make places unique.
BNR: What are some of your favorite sounds?
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TC: The musical road in [Lancaster] California was one of my favorites from my travels. As you drive over the pattern of grooves cut into the road, the vibration of the car wheels creates the "William Tell Overture. But despite this, it made me smile. BNR: What effect would you like to have on your readers? What do you most want them to take away from your book? TC: I would like readers to be a bit more aware of the sounds around them.
A lot of noise problems we face, like the tinny music leaking from someone's headphones, are caused by people being inconsiderate of other peoples' aural environment. If we all listened to and cared for the sounds around us, we would start to build a better-sounding world. BNR: What are your hopes for the future of sound? TC: As an acoustic engineer, I know that quite a lot of the acoustic defects we have to put up with on a daily basis need not exist. I hope that reading my book will raise awareness of this among the general public who will then demand better acoustics.
Do you have any plans to reclaim your record? The physics of a whoopee cushion is similar to what happens in the mouthpiece of a saxophone, and so it was used to illustrate how wind instruments work.
A friend of mine broke the record, and I have no plans to break his record. See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books.
The sound book : the science of the sonic wonders of the world in SearchWorks catalog
Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Manufacturers, suppliers and others provide what you see here, and we have not verified it. See our disclaimer. Trevor Cox is on a hunt for the sonic wonders of the world. A renowned expert who engineers classrooms and concert halls, Cox has made a career of eradicating bizarre and unwanted sounds. But after an epiphany in the London sewers, Cox now revels in exotic noises creaking glaciers, whispering galleries, stalactite organs, musical roads, humming dunes, seals that sound like alien angels, and a Mayan pyramid that chirps like a bird.
With forays into archaeology, neuroscience, biology, and design, Cox explains how sound is made and altered by the environment, how our body reacts to peculiar noises, and how these mysterious wonders illuminate sound s surprising dynamics in everyday settings from your bedroom to the opera house. The Sound Book encourages us to become better listeners in a world dominated by the visual and to open our ears to the glorious cacophony all around us. Specifications Publisher W. Customer Reviews. Average rating: 4 out of 5 stars, based on 3 reviews 3 ratings.
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