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Relax, Listening to 10 Rumbling Hours of an Arctic Ship

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Sometimes we need a relaxing background sound. For some, it's the Star Trek ship sound. For others, sleep-inducing podcasts are the way to go. For Netflix fans, there's an oscillating fan.

Today, I am proud to present 10 hours of ambient sound, featuring a polar icebreaker in a storm. The sound is part live recording, part synthesized audio, and the video features a static shot of a Norwegian research vessel. The net effect is truly relaxing, conducive to background sound for reading, sleeping, bathing, you name it. From the YouTube description:

10 hours video of Arctic ambience with frozen ocean, ice cracking, snow falling, icebreaker idling and distant howling wind sound. Natural white noise sounds generated by the wind and snow falling, combined with deep low frequencies with delta waves from the powerful icebreaker idling engines, recorded at 96 kHz - 24 bit and designed for relaxation, meditation, study and sleep.

Crank this up and relax:

Relevant reading: Why Is White Noise 'White'?

[h/t: Boing Boing.]

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Animals
Audible Launches 'Audible for Dogs' to Help Pet Parents Calm Their Stressed Canines
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In addition to a mutual love of hamburgers and lazy sunny afternoons in the backyard, dog owners can now share their affinity for audiobooks with their furry friends. As Fast Company reports, Audible has launched Audible for Dogs, a new service designed to keep canines relaxed while their owners are away from home.

Some people play music for lonely dogs, but according to an Audible press release, a 2015 academic study revealed that audiobooks worked better than tunes to calm stressed-out pets. To investigate the phenomenon further, Audible teamed up with Cesar Millan, the dog behaviorist who’s better known as the "Dog Whisperer." Their own research—which they conducted with 100 dogs, in partnership with Millan’s Dog Psychology Center in Santa Clarita, California—found that 76 percent of participating dog owners noticed that audiobooks helped their pets chill out.

Dog owners can play Cesar Millan’s new Guide to Audiobooks for Dogs—which is both written and narrated by Millan—for initiation purposes, along with a curated rotating selection of dog-focused audiobook titles including Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, performed by Trevor Noah; Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, performed by Rosamund Pike; and W. Bruce Cameron’s A Dog’s Purpose, performed by William Dufris. Each title features a special video introduction by Millan, in which he explains why the book is suited for doggy ears. (Pro tip: According to Audible’s research, dogs prefer narrators of the same gender as their primary owners, and books played at normal volume on an in-home listening device.)

Don’t have an Audible subscription, but want to see if your dog succumbs to the purportedly calming magic of audiobooks? New listeners can listen to one free Audible for Dogs selection with a 30-day membership trial.

[h/t Fast Company]

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entertainment
Inside the Auditory Illusion That Makes Hans Zimmer’s Movie Scores So Anxiety-Producing
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© 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., Ratpac-Dune Entertainment LLC

You may not know what a Shepard tone is, but you’d definitely recognize one if you heard it. This is especially true if you’ve seen any movie by Christopher Nolan and his longtime collaborator Hans Zimmer, the Hollywood composer whose style is imitated in just about every blockbuster action movie you’ve seen in the past two decades.

A Shepard tone is an illusion that makes the audio sound like a musical scale that’s infinitely rising. The explainer below from Vox goes into how Zimmer’s passion for Shepard tones achieves the tense feelings Nolan wants to evoke in his audience. You can hear it in the recently released Dunkirk, but whether or not you’ve seen the World War II film, you’ll recognize the effect. It could also be familiar to you from Super Mario 64’s endless stairs sequence or from the end of The Beatles song “I Am the Walrus.”

A Shepard tone works by layering multiple different tones that are separated by an octave each. The highest tone gets quieter as it goes up. The lowest tone gets louder as it goes up and the tone in the middle stays at the same volume. You always hear at least two of the tones rising, so to your brain it sounds like it’s one constant ascending tone. (Or descending.) As Vox’s Christophe Haubursin explains, “It’s like a barber’s pole, constantly seeming to rise without actually going anywhere. Put that in a soundtrack, and it creates the sound of rising tension that carries the screenplay forward.”

And it isn’t just used in scores. In the 2008 movie The Dark Knight—another Nolan/Zimmer film—a Shepard tone was used to create the acceleration sound effects for the Batpod. According to Richard King, the movie’s sound designer, “When played on a keyboard, it gives the illusion of greater and greater speed; the pod appears unstoppable.” As is your anxiety while listening.

This may be the one explainer video that will truly keep you on the edge of your seat.

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