back to article NASA whistles up electron noise from the Van Allen belt

NASA boffins in charge of the agency's Van Allen Belt mission have recorded audio-frequency noise made by energetic electrons emitting what's known as “whistler waves”. NASA Goddard says the waves shape the near-Earth space environment and also characterise different types of plasma, making them worthy of our curiosity. So …

  1. dbayly

    not news

    When I had a student job building radio Telescopes for the Physic Department of the University of Tasmania in the 60s, I remember being told about whistler research and listening to sounds just like this, particularly the second recording. I don't think it is a new research topic, although the satellites weren't available then...

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      "When I had a student job building radio Telescopes for the Physic "

      Using a ouija board and a couple of crystal balls?

      I'm guessing you mean the Physics department.?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "When I had a student job building radio Telescopes for the Physic "

        and I guess you mis-read Physic as Psychic...

    2. swm Bronze badge

      Re: not news

      When I was in college in the 1960's whistlers were being studied. They originated from lightning strikes where the electromagnetic waves bounced between the northern and southern hemispheres due to the Van Allen belt. Because of dispersion each bounce was a longer whistle.

      This article implies that these waves are originating in the Van Allen belt so are something different.

  2. Harry the Bastard

    surely we've heard all these before

    first one was from doctor who, maybe an ice warrior

    second, clearly clangers

    third, ipcress

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: surely we've heard all these before

      first one was from doctor who, maybe an ice warrior

      Sounded more like Darth Vader to me, at least when he's asleep. It has just taken that long for the sound to reach us.

  3. Your alien overlord - fear me

    In space, no one can hear you scream.

    But listening to some rocks in space, just fine !!

  4. lglethal Silver badge
    Pint

    OK two things:

    Firstly, that first recording is clearly the Earth breathing. I guess Mother Nature really is a Thing! :P

    Second, how frigging awesome is it, that all of those sci-fi shows from our youth, somehow managed to produce sound effects which ACTUALLY sound exactly like these recordings. Art imitating Life? Huh! more like Life imitating Art!

    Nice work to all those boffins and Sound Effects Folks. Enjoy one of These ->

    1. Asterix the Gaul
      Coat

      Re: OK two things:

      If that's mother Earth 'breathing', I'm not hanging around whenshe 'drops her hat', LOL.

  5. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Coat

    The sound of the heart beat of a whole planet?

    Just a thought.

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: The sound of the heart beat of a whole planet?

      Another thought: pareidolia...

      1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme
        Happy

        Re: DropBear

        "Another thought: pareidolia..."

        You're right. a truly excellent song from an interesting prog band. Cheers!

        (Happiness icon beats Joke icon in a fair fight.)

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: The sound of the heart beat of a whole planet?

      Well... some people do believe that the Earth and other planets are just huge (really huge) eggs.

      Icon: Mine's the one with the recipe in the pocket for a really large plate of Eggs Benedict. Now to find a plate large enough to serve it from.

      1. Ugotta B. Kiddingme
        Alien

        Re: The sound of the heart beat of a whole planet?

        "Well... some people do believe that the Earth and other planets are just huge (really huge) eggs."

        I recently saw a documentary about that. Expedition led by some cranky Scotsman...

  6. Farnet

    Music to my ears

    I miss-read it initially and thought it said noise from the Van Halen belt

    I thought, wow a new album on its way

  7. Len Goddard

    Useful

    Yay - new phone ringtones!!

  8. Stephen Newman

    Sounds like a Roland Jupiter 8 to me. Dual VCO's for the win!!

  9. handleoclast Silver badge
    Coat

    Does that make the Van Allen belt

    Whistler's mother?

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Does that make the Van Allen belt

      Whistler's mother?

      Up vote for beating me to the joke.

  10. handleoclast Silver badge

    Erm

    I first read about whistlers in the mid 60s. Never actually heard them before, but I've long imagined how they'd sound (aided somewhat by the description I read in the 60s).

    Maybe it's just me, but the first one sounds exactly how I imagined whistlers would sound, despite it being labelled "Chorus." And the second one sounds like a chorus, despite it being labelled "Whistler Waves."

    Obviously I'm suffering from alcohol deficiency, which is known to cause scary hallucinations (like Donald Trump being president).

    1. IvyKing

      Re: Erm

      Wonder if you read about it the same place I did - either Popular Electronics or Electronics Illustrated. Gist of the article was that Whistlers were discovered during WW1 by people attempting to listen in on field telephone conversations, which typical used ground return.

  11. Bandikoto

    Van Allen Belt surrounds it!

    This is the space age ...

    This is the space age ...

    (repeats and fades)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=khQiqFArffo

  12. mattje

    Soup Dragon

    I knew the Clangers were real!

  13. JJKing Bronze badge
    Megaphone

    Sleep a chance to dream or BE KEPT AWAKE!

    That does it, I will never take a job in space. Would never get to sleep with all that noise whistling around.

  14. raygdunn
    Headmaster

    Sounds of the '60s

    An electrical dawn chorus of whistles and chirps.

    There was a VLF receiver design in Practical Wireless (UK) sometime in the '60s for tuning in to this. Required a very long aerial and to be about a quarter mile from any main electricity wiring. I was intending to build one, but radio control equipment proved more tempting.

    It looks like someone has been tuning in on that frequency with some modern gear. Nice to hear what it actually sounds like!

    https://youtu.be/FeuI8AJMIxU

    (Suitable '60s icon? Or was the TV series Whacko with headmaster Jimmy Edwards in the late '50s? I was quite amazed to find it on here. No helpful links to retirement homes required just yet thank you☺)

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019