ICS affiliate to demonstrate July 13 at Arts Festival BoothPosted on July 11, 2017
While data is often used to form a line on a graph describing a phenomenon — think points on a chart — what happens when it comes to life as a musical score?
For Mark Ballora, a professor of music technology and an ICS affiliate, sonifying data not only makes perfect sense, it also offers a new avenue for experiencing and understanding data. In his case, cosmological phenomena.
“I take the line and turn it into a melody,” Ballora said. “The idea of finding music in nature and science appeals to me on a poetic level.”
Ballora is one of the Penn State faculty members and graduate students who will be offering hands-on demonstrations July 13-15 at The Art of Discovery, Penn State’s booth at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. The booth, next to Willard Building on the University Park campus, will feature free workshops for children and adults ranging from seeing 3-D printers in action and experiencing 360-degree viewfinders to watching glass candy get made.
For the full schedule, read more about the booth here. To talk with Ballora and experience data as sound, drop by the booth from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 13.
Among Ballora’s projects is working with former Grateful Dead percussionist and ethnomusicologist Mickey Hart and 2006 Nobel Laureate George Smoot on the DVD project “Rhythms of the Universe.” Ballora created the sonifications for the project, which explores the cosmos and includes visualizations as well as sonifications of astrophysical datasets.
“The dataset becomes like a musical score,” Ballora said.
Ballora — a self-described Deadhead — became involved in the project after he heard Hart and Smoot were working on a movie that would feature sounds of the Big Bang. “I thought, ‘I have to do that,’” Ballora said.
With that and other projects, choosing which instrument goes with which data is subjective. So, Ballora said he gets to ask, What would be a good instrument for a pulsar or an aurora borealis? It’s the same way an artist might choose which shade of blue conveys the nighttime sky.
“That’s the fun of it: designing something that says, ‘Oh, that sounds shimmery.’ Or, the galaxy is like a wind chime in the sky, so let me design something that sounds like a wind chime.”
From there he generates the sound using an audio synthesis software program — mapping the information to sound characteristics like melody and rhythm. He often has to transpose the numbers that describe the electromagnetic frequencies — the pulsars and aurora borealis — to ensure they are suitable for the pitches and that the listener can hear the contours of the lines.
Ballora thinks that while the idea of listening to science — not just looking at it — may be seen as a novelty now, it will be something that grows more common with young people.
“It will be part of the culture of research and science — that you don’t just look at it, you also listen to it. Young people will start finding the things they can discover by listening,” Ballora said. “Because we all respond to music, we dance to it, we tap our feet to it, we get tunes stuck in our heads, and the capabilities of the ear will be put into play. The strengths of the ear are different than the strengths of the eye. The ear detects some things better than the eye does, so discoveries will come about as a natural consequence of people being able to listen to datasets.”
In keeping with that, Ballora’s next projects received seed grants from the National Academies Keck Futures Initiative and the Gulf Research Program.
For one, he is working with marine biologist, underwater acoustician and cellist Heather Spence of Michelle’s Earth Foundation on a project focused on presenting the ocean’s dynamics through sound. Called “Layers of Meaning: How the Ocean’s Natural Acoustics and the Music of its Datasets Can Reveal Hidden Connections,” the project will include educational outreach.
For the other project, “Sonifications of Oxygen and Temperature Data in the Ocean: Creating a ‘Data Stethoscope’ to Detect the Ocean’s Vital Signs,” a “data stethoscope” will be created to translate into sound measurements of temperature, oxygen and biomass collected from the ocean’s depths. Ballora is working with Karen Wishner, professor of oceanography at University of Rhode Island.
This article originally appeared on Penn State News and has been slightly modified to clarify Ballora’s connection to ICS. Read the original here: http://news.psu.edu/story/474332/2017/07/10/impact/grateful-data
- Featured Researcher: Nick Tusay
- Multi-institutional team to use AI to evaluate social, behavioral science claims
- NSF invests in cyberinfrastructure institute to harness cosmic data
- Center for Immersive Experiences set to debut, serving researchers and students
- Distant Suns, Distant Worlds
- CyberScience Seminar: Researcher to discuss how AI can help people avoid adverse drug interactions
- AI could offer warnings about serious side effects of drug-drug interactions
- Taking RTKI drugs during radiotherapy may not aid survival, worsens side effects
- Cost-effective cloud research computing options now available for researchers
- Costs of natural disasters are increasing at the high end
- Model helps choose wind farm locations, predicts output
- Virus may jump species through ‘rock-and-roll’ motion with receptors
- Researchers seek to revolutionize catalyst design with machine learning
- Resilient Resumes team places third in Nittany AI Challenge
- ‘AI in Action’: Machine learning may help scientists explore deep sleep
- Clickbait Secrets Exposed! Humans and AI team up to improve clickbait detection
- Focusing computational power for more accurate, efficient weather forecasts
- How many Earth-like planets are around sun-like stars?
- Professor receives NSF grant to model cell disorder in heart
- SMH! Brains trained on e-devices may struggle to understand scientific info
- Whole genome sequencing may help officials get a handle on disease outbreaks
- New tool could reduce security analysts’ workloads by automating data triage
- Careful analysis of volcano’s plumbing system may give tips on pending eruptions
- Reducing farm greenhouse gas emissions may plant the seed for a cooler planet
- Using artificial intelligence to detect discrimination
- Four ways scholars say we can cut the chances of nasty satellite data surprises
- Game theory shows why stigmatization may not make sense in modern society
- Older adults can serve communities as engines of everyday innovation
- Pig-Pen effect: Mixing skin oil and ozone can produce a personal pollution cloud
- Researchers find genes that could help create more resilient chickens
- Despite dire predictions, levels of social support remain steady in the U.S.
- For many, friends and family, not doctors, serve as a gateway to opioid misuse
- New algorithm may help people store more pictures, share videos faster
- Head named for Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering
- Scientific evidence boosts action for activists, decreases action for scientists
- People explore options, then selectively represent good options to make difficult decisions
- Map reveals that lynching extended far beyond the deep South
- Gravitational forces in protoplanetary disks push super-Earths close to stars
- Supercomputer cluster donation helps turn high school class into climate science research lab
- Believing machines can out-do people may fuel acceptance of self-driving cars
- People more likely to trust machines than humans with their private info
- IBM donates system to Penn State to advance AI research
- ICS Seed Grants to power projects that use AI, machine learning for common good
- Penn State Berks team advances to MVP Phase of Nittany AI Challenge
- Creepy computers or people partners? Working to make AI that enhances humanity
- Sky is clearing for using AI to probe weather variability
- ‘AI will see you now’: Panel to discuss the AI revolution in health and medicine
- Privacy law scholars must address potential for nasty satellite data surprises
- Researchers take aim at hackers trying to attack high-value AI models
- Girls, economically disadvantaged less likely to get parental urging to study computers
- Seed grants awarded to projects using Twitter data
- Researchers find features that shape mechanical force during protein synthesis
- A peek at living room decor suggests how decorations vary around the world
- Interactive websites may cause antismoking messages to backfire
- Changing how government assesses risk may ease fallout from extreme financial events
- Algorithm aims to alert consumers before they use illicit online pharmacies
- Scientists tap AI betting agents to help solve research reproducibility concerns
- Search engine could help researchers scour internet for privacy documents