Innovations

Songs in the Key of Sea

Songs in the Key of Sea

spacer

Argonne Labs Puts Algae to Music

October 3, 2012, by Jared Sagoff
AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com

Soft horns and a tinkling piano form the backbone of “Fifty Degrees North, Four Degrees West,” a jazz number with an interesting twist: the performers are cyanobacteria and other microbes. The micro-music is the brainchild of Peter Larsen, a biologist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. Not a trained musician himself, Larsen’s musical interests run less towards the blues and more towards blue-green algae.

When faced with an avalanche of microbial data collected from samples taken from the western English Channel, Larsen recognized he needed a way to make sense of it all. “Thinking of interesting ways to highlight interactions within data is part of my daily job,” he said. “I am always trying to find new ways to visualize those relationships in ways so that someone can make relevant biological conclusions.”

Listen to examples of microbial bebop here »

In the case of the western English Channel data, however, Larsen decided that a visual representation of the data would not be as effective as one he could hear. “There are certain parameters like sunlight, temperature or the concentration of phosphorus in the water that give a kind of structure to the data and determine the microbial populations,” he said. “This structure provides us with an intuitive way to use music to describe a wide range of natural phenomena.”

A colleague of Larsen’s suggested that classical music could effectively represent the data, but Larsen wanted any patterns inherent in the information to emerge naturally and not to be imposed from without. “For something as structured as classical music, there’s an insufficient amount of structure that you can infer without having to tweak the result to fit what you perceive it should sound like,” Larsen said. “We didn’t want to do that.”

While this is not the first attempt to “sonify” data, it is one of the more mellifluous examples of the genre. “We were astounded by just how musical it sounded,” Larsen said. “A large majority of attempts to converting linear data into sound succeed, but they really don’t obey the dictates of music – meter, tempo, harmony. To see these things in natural phenomena and to describe them was a wonderful surprise.”

Read more: http://www.anl.gov/articles/songs-key-sea

More Like This…

HOME Algae Industry Jobs

Copyright ©2010-2012 AlgaeIndustryMagazine.com. All rights reserved. Permission granted to reprint this article in its entirety. Must include copyright statement and live hyperlinks. Contact editorial@algaeindustrymagazine.com. A.I.M. accepts unsolicited manuscripts for consideration, and takes no responsibility for the validity of claims made in submitted editorial.

From The A.I.M. Archives

— Refresh Page for More Choices
James Goodman writes in the democratandchronicle.com about Jeffrey Lodge, an associate professor of biological sciences at Rochester Institute of Technology, who knows wh...
Hammenhög, Sweden-based agribusiness Simris Alg has announced the launch of its first consumer products. The algae farmers’ exclusive omega-3 supplements and superfoods w...
Cellana, Inc., with operations in San Diego and Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, has announced that David Anton, Ph.D., has been appointed Chief Operating Officer and elected to the ...
Montague, Prince Edward Island-based Solarvest has announced that it has used its algal-based production platform to express bioactive therapeutic proteins. The proof of ...
The European (FP7) algae project Sustainable PoLymers from Algae Sugars and Hydrocarbons (SPLASH) has been developing a platform technology for the conversion of third ge...
Sebastian Rich reports on PBS Newshour about the Central African Republic city of Bangui, which has been caught in the crossfire between warring Muslim and Christian grou...
Simris Alg, a pioneering agribusiness producing omega-3 from farmed algae, has been declared one of Sweden’s 33 hottest companies in new technology. The renowned list is ...
UC San Diego’s efforts to produce innovative and sustainable solutions to the world’s environmental problems have resulted in a partnership with the region’s surfing indu...
Tubular glass photobioreactor (PBR) systems protect algae from harmful environmental factors, keeping strains safer from bio-contamination. The glass tubing itself can be...
The Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) has named Solazyme CEO and co-founder Jonathan S. Wolfson as the recipient of its 2015 George Washington Carver Award for in...
John O’Renick, in this insightful piece from the Portland (Oregon) Tribune, writes about the problems we create from treating waste streams as garbage to be disposed of i...
Japan’s IHI Corporation has announced that they have succeeded in stably cultivating a modified high-output algal strain in a 1,500 square meter open pond in Kagoshima, K...
Using microalgae to capture CO2 is a complex process, especially in flue gas environments, reports an editorial by IEA Clean Coal Centre in worldcoal.com. There are many ...
EnAlgae researchers have published an economic model to help to explore the economics of cultivating macroalgae at sea. The model and report can be found here as outputs ...
Biocrude oil obtained from hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) of algae can be an energy-efficient replacement for the fossil crude oil normally used in the production of fue...