That comet we just landed on? It's singing us a song. Listen

It is apparent that Ken McLeod is less popular here than I would have thought, but my first reaction was “so when do we start interacting with it to be taught the basics of faster than light travel?”

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That could be actually a pretty interesting contest. Put out raw measurement data for celestial objects, let teams compete for who can make the best audiovizualization from them.


just as it’s reasonable to shift bat calls down a couple of octaves so we can hear them

Okay, but bat calls are actually sound waves to begin with. This is derived from a measurement of a magnetic field, which has a strength at every point in a 3-dimensional space at every time. This makes a 5-dimensional data set (if you had the whole thing, rather than measurements at a single point in space). It’s never going to be a straightforward translation to sound waves.

Right, but my guess is that they have sampled it at a single point - just like with sound, where you use a microphone to sample how a 3d pressure field changes at a single(ish) point in space. And many microphones work with pressure gradients, which generally means you’re taking a slice of a 3d vector.

I’ve got a telephone pickup coil which has a minijack out (a bit like this:

I can just plug it straight into the mixer and listen to EM fluctuations. If you wave it around near a laptop you can hear all sorts of different things going on.

Arguably, it’s a simpler conversion than a microphone, as it doesn’t translate pressure into physical movement which is then converted to an electronic signal.

I guess some of this comes down to what your definition of ‘sound’ is.

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I dunno, I’m a purist.

To make the music audible to the human ear, the frequencies have been increased in this recording.

They ruined the original version.

It makes me feel like I am the only one on Earth, and the comet is singing just to me…

What? Everyone is using auto-tune these days…

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How does a magnetic field complete a vibration once every 40,000 seconds?


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50 millihertz would be 0.05 hz, which means a vibration every 20 seconds, I think

I’m unclear on how or why a comet’s magnetic field would fluctuate, or why it would do so at that frequency though

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Yeah, good point. That makes more sense now that my coffee kicked in.

It’s not a star, but it looks like one to the untrained eye.


“What? Comet 52P/Harrington–Abell is dead? Then I’m the King o’ the Comets!”

The whale leaped toward the fireplace, and with a single Mmmmmmmmmmmmrrrrrrrrrrroooooouuuuuuuuououoooooooooooooooooooouuuiiiiiiiiiiiiiioooooooooooooooooooiiieeeeeeeeeuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhoooooooeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnuuuuuuuuuiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiooooooooooooooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuooooooiiiiiiiiiiiiuuuoooouuuououoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooiiieeeeeeeeeuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhoooooooeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuunnnnnnnnnnuiiiooooooouuuueeeeinnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnuuuuuuuuuuuuuuoooiiieeeuuuuuuuuuuuouuuuuuuuououoooooooooooooooooooouuuiiiiiiiiiiiiiioooooooooooooooooooiiieeeeeeeeeuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhoooooooeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnuuuuuuuuuiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiooooooooooooooooooooooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuooooooiiiiiiiiiiiiuuuoooouuuououooooooooooooooouuoooooooooooooooonnnnnnnnngggggggggg, he bounded up the chimney and was gone.

Never to be seen again.


In my comet there’s this switch that doesn’t do anything. Every so often I would flick it on and off just to check. Yesterday, I got a call from a comet in the Ooort Cloud. It said, “Cut it out.”


cf Fiorella Tirenzi

Figures the first extraterrestrial source we hear would be into EDM.

My Physics days lie far too far in the past but couldn’t the atmosphere of charged ions be caused to oscillate by a field produced by the Piezoelectric effect?

Which has got me thinking; couldn’t you ‘steer’ a heavenly body of the correct crystalline composition using the (reverse) piezoelectric effect?

To the research-mobile!

By having the frequency of 25 microhertz? (And yes, the statement is rather poorly written.)

I’d say it is the results of currents in the plasma envelope of the comet (ionized gas escaping from the rock). The weakest current will make (the weakest) magnetic field.

As of the period, check how much it follows the rotation speed along the various axes. I’d guess there’ll be some match with some physical behavior of the rock, most likely rotation.

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