Sonification: A Little Data Music

Sonification is the act of representing data as sound. Any data will do, but data that has a pattern will make better music, and if you don't know whether your data has a pattern or not, sonification may help you find out.

A fractal is "a rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be subdivided in parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole", according to Wikipedia. Many musicians have experimented with converting fractal shapes into music. Fractal Vibes has examples and links to more fractal music.
Your chance to hear music from brain waves, gene sequences, and more after the jump.

This piano piece was created by assigning notes to the digits 0 through 9 in the constant known as pi. Pi has no repetitive patterns, so the piece sounds random, but has a mathematical beauty all its own. Hear more examples of turning math into music at Math Sonification and The Sound of Mathematics.
435_math pi decimal matrix.jpg

In the news just last week, scientists at UCLA are working to convert genome-encoded protein sequences into musical notes in order to hear auditory protein patterns. Listen to the conversion of the sequence found in horse hemoglobin.

Paras Kaul of mississippi State University, known as The Brainwave Chick, uses converted brain wave music in her recording. Hear some examples of brain wave conversions here, and a musical composition entitled The Brain on Om here.

Musician Roberto Morales-Manzanares, a student at UC Berkeley, worked with physicists to convert electrons from the sun (solar wind) to music. Listen to a section of Turning Point.

Berkeley has more on the process of sonification, including software you can use to convert data to sound waves.

'Lime Disease' Could Give You a Nasty Rash This Summer

A cold Corona or virgin margarita is best enjoyed by the pool, but watch where you’re squeezing those limes. As Slate illustrates in a new video, there’s a lesser-known “lime disease,” and it can give you a nasty skin rash if you’re not careful.

When lime juice comes into contact with your skin and is then exposed to UV rays, it can cause a chemical reaction that results in phytophotodermatitis. It looks a little like a poison ivy reaction or sun poisoning, and some of the symptoms include redness, blistering, and inflammation. It’s the same reaction caused by a corrosive sap on the giant hogweed, an invasive weed that’s spreading throughout the U.S.

"Lime disease" may sound random, but it’s a lot more common than you might think. Dermatologist Barry D. Goldman tells Slate he sees cases of the skin condition almost daily in the summer. Some people have even reported receiving second-degree burns as a result of the citric acid from lime juice. According to the Mayo Clinic, the chemical that causes phytophotodermatitis can also be found in wild parsnip, wild dill, wild parsley, buttercups, and other citrus fruits.

To play it safe, keep your limes confined to the great indoors or wash your hands with soap after handling the fruit. You can learn more about phytophotodermatitis by checking out Slate’s video below.

[h/t Slate]

Why Eating From a Smaller Plate Might Not Be an Effective Dieting Trick 

It might be time to rewrite the diet books. Israeli psychologists have cast doubt on the widespread belief that eating from smaller plates helps you control food portions and feel fuller, Scientific American reports.

Past studies have shown that this mind trick, called the Delboeuf illusion, influences the amount of food that people eat. In one 2012 study, participants who were given larger bowls ended up eating more soup overall than those given smaller bowls.

However, researchers from Ben-Gurion University in Negev, Israel, concluded in a study published in the journal Appetite that the effectiveness of the illusion depends on how empty your stomach is. The team of scientists studied two groups of participants: one that ate three hours before the experiment, and another that ate one hour prior. When participants were shown images of pizzas on serving trays of varying sizes, the group that hadn’t eaten in several hours was more accurate in assessing the size of pizzas. In other words, the hungrier they were, the less likely they were to be fooled by the different trays.

However, both groups were equally tricked by the illusion when they were asked to estimate the size of non-food objects, such as black circles inside of white circles and hubcaps within tires. Researchers say this demonstrates that motivational factors, like appetite, affects how we perceive food. The findings also dovetail with the results of an earlier study, which concluded that overweight people are less likely to fall for the illusion than people of a normal weight.

So go ahead and get a large plate every now and then. At the very least, it may save you a second trip to the buffet table.

[h/t Scientific American]


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