LHC physicists preserve Native American voices

LHC physicists preserve Native American voices | symmetry magazine.

Some particles physicists have used a technology they developed for the Large Hadron Collider to bring old recordings back to life. Their technology uses optical imaging to help in designing the tiny components of the LHC detectors, and it turns out that it can also be used to photograph the tiny bumps on old records. Once the image is taken, a mathematical algorithm translates the bumps in the image into the sounds they represent.

I love this kind of interdisciplinary, multi-purpose science. It happens because scientists are enthusiastic about what they do, and creative in thinking about how it can be used.

The records of Native American voices are hugely important to remaining members of their tribes and in ensuring that their cultures are not completely forgotten. There is such value in those recordings, and until now, that value was going to be lost forever.


Image: Ethnographer Frances Densmore with Blackfoot chief, Mountain Chief, during a 1916 phonograph recording session for the Bureau of American Ethnology. Courtesy of: Wikimedia Commons


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