Listen To That Alpha Decay

While there are exceptions, usually sensors represent data in visual form.  But there are research projects – and not just in acoustics – that rely on audio data to explore scientific phenomena.  Earlier this year I noted a project that made sounds out of particle collision data from the Large Hadron Collider.  In a similar vein, The Radioactive Orchestra has made sounds out of atomic decay from excited state to ground state (H/T Brain Pickings).  The energy of the specific decay step (isotopes can have more than one step) is converted to a comparable frequency tone.  Here is a video of someone making a tune out of decays of Gold, Mercury Rhenium, Thallium, and Plutonium atoms.

At the moment, the Orchestra is exploring the musical potential of these isotopes.  But I wouldn’t be surprised if decay patterns could be replicated in sound and possibly provide new insights into nuclear decay.  Personally, I’d find it a bit more engaging to pour through sound recordings rather than odd charts and graphs.

About that Pro-Science Red Meat from Twitter

This apparently has some folks getting what passes for the vapors in the horse race of Presidential campaigns.  It managed to get retweeted more than 3600 times.

There’s a host of reasons why one might conclude this isn’t going to get the former governor from Utah a leg up on the nomination, many of them having nothing to do with the content of the message.  But what’s more relevant to this blog is how this won’t do a thing to raise the profile of science or science informed policies in this campaign.

Foremost is that the Tweet says nothing of policy.  Does the Governor favor cap-and-trade?  It’s quite possible to trust in global warming scientists and not support that policy option.   Another former governor running for the Republican nomination, Mitt Romney, trusts (at least right now) that climate change is real and that humans have something to do with it.  But he doesn’t support cap-and-trade.  You can agree (or be close to agreement) on the science underlying a policy while disagreeing on the policy to take.  Yes, that kind of argument is hard to find in current political discourse, but an absence of evidence does not negate its existence.

The other major reason is the perpetual one – science issues don’t matter in campaigns.  It doesn’t matter whether its the primary or the general, other issues take precedence.  I’ve seen no evidence that this will change, as much as the ScienceDebate folks may wish for it.