To reach the stratosphere, Daniel Bowman of Sandia National Laboratories and his collaborators build relatively simple, solar-powered balloons that span 6 to 7 meters across. After releasing the balloons, they track their routes using GPS and use them to collect data and detect low-frequency sound with microbarometers. Rarely disturbed by planes or turbulence, the microphones on the balloons pick up a variety of sounds unheard anywhere else. Bowman will present his findings using these hot air balloons to eavesdrop on stratospheric sounds at the upcoming 184th ASA Meeting.
Acoustic monitoring is the go-to solution for locating a leak in a large urban pipe network, as the sounds from leaks are unique and travel far in water, but even this method struggles in complex systems. To tackle the problem, Pranav Agrawal and Sriram Narasimhan from UCLA developed algorithms that operate on acoustic signals collected via hydrophones mounted on fire hydrants. In doing so, the team can avoid costly excavation and reposition the devices as needed. Combined with novel probabilistic and machine-learning techniques to analyze the signals and pinpoint leaks, this technology could support water conservation efforts.
Scientists can harness sound on other worlds to learn about properties that might otherwise require a lot of expensive equipment, like the chemical composition of rocks, how atmospheric temperature changes, or the roughness of the ground. Extraterrestrial sounds could also be used in the search for life. Timothy G. Leighton from the University of Southampton has designed a software program that produces extraterrestrial environmental sounds and predicts how human voices might change in distant worlds. He will demonstrate his work at the upcoming 184th ASA Meeting.
At the 184th ASA Meeting, Colin Malloy of Ocean Network Canada will present his method to transform ocean data into captivating, solo percussion songs. He employs sound from hydrophones and introduces elements inspired by ocean-related data such as temperature, acidity, and oxygenation. For example, in his piece, Oil & Water, Malloy represents the impact of oil production on the oceans. He plays an eerily catchy melody on steel drums and inserts noise to represent oil production over the past 120 years.
At the 184th ASA Meeting, Georgia Zellou and Michelle Cohn of the University of California, Davis will describe experiments to investigate how speech and comprehension change when humans communicate with AI. They examined how people adjust their voice when communicating with an AI system compared to talking with another human and, on the listening side, how what a device sounds like impacts how well listeners will understand it.
Imagine a cocktail party full of 3D-printed, humanoid robots listening and talking to each other. That seemingly sci-fi scene is the goal of the Augmented Listening Laboratory at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. With precise control over the simulated subjects, the researchers can adjust the parameters of the experiment and even set the machines in motion to simulate neck movements. They will describe the talking human head simulators, and their work investigating how humans receive sound and developing audio technology, at the 184th ASA Meeting.
At the 184th ASA Meeting, Ashley Alva of the Georgia Institute of Technology will describe how attaching microbubbles to macrophages, a type of white blood cell, can create high-resolution and sensitive tracking images useful for disease diagnosis. Because of the attached microbubbles, the cells sent back an echo when hit with ultrasound, which is nonionizing and noninvasive and has great depth of penetration. This allowed the team to visualize the macrophages in vivo with high resolution and sensitivity. Visualizing macrophages in vivo could also provide a powerful tool for understanding immune responses and monitoring therapeutic efficacy.
At the 184th ASA Meeting, Emily Sandgren and Joshua Alexander of Purdue University will describe experiments to determine the best hearing aids for listening to music. To test and compare, they took over 200 recordings of music samples as processed by hearing aids from seven popular manufacturers. They asked study participants to rate the sound quality of these recordings and found that the hearing aids had lower ratings for music than their control stimuli. The researchers found bigger differences in music quality between hearing aid brands than between speech and music programs.
The 184th ASA Meeting will include three press conferences on Tuesday, May 9. The in-person presentations will also be livestreamed and recorded. Topics will focus on a wide range of newsworthy sessions, including 3D-printing head simulators, tracking immune cells with ultrasound, investigating the impact of skin color on breast cancer diagnosis, mimicking insects to create miniature microphones, and locating leaks in water networks. Reporters can register for in-person or virtual attendance.