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Sonification Images and Movies

Sonification is the use of non-speech sound or audio to convey information or perceptualize data. It forms an interesting alternative or complement to standard visualization techniques, as well as providing a mechanism for the site-impaired to experience and study data. Sonification as a method for exploration of data and scientific modeling is an ongoing research area. One of the first successful applications of sonification was the Geiger counter, a device measuring ionizing radiation. The number and frequency of audible clicks are directly dependent on the radiation level in the immediate vicinity of the device. Likewise, different algorithms can be used to translate visual data into audible sounds.

Marty Quinn, of Design Rhythmics Sonification Research Lab, has sonified the SDO/HMI First Light data as an experiment in making scientific data available to the blind. Below are examples of the sonifications, shown with their equivalent visualizations.

The images show a magnetogram, a close-up view of the magnetic field in a solar Active Region. You can think of Active Regions as solar magentic storms. White indicates a magnetic field moving towards the observer, and black a field moving away. The black and white regions correspond to the north and south magnetic poles of a sunspot pair. Grey indicates no magnetic field.


You are hearing 10 locations around the circle of the white area. Each location is playing the brightness of the pixel through a particular instrument, using 7 octaves of a 7 note Spanish Gypsy scale (flat 2nd, 6th and 7th). Because most of this area is so bright, you hear many high pitches. Listen carefully to hear the subtle variations in the 'white' area. When we use our eyes, we may easily dismiss the white by saying 'oh yes, that is white' and moving on. But with our ears we can pick up the subtleties.

Each location has a memory to it, which "remembers" the last note/data value selected. If the next note will be the same, it sustains the note (i.e. it doesn't play it again) and begins to lower the volume. Hence changes are easier to ascertain.


More Sonification Files:

SDO MP3 Mixes
16-bit WAV files

WWW Access Statistics for the servers of the Solar Physics Research Group.

Page last revised Friday, July 16, 2010 14:39