[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 31-May-2013
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Contact: Catherine Meyers
cmeyers@aip.org
301-209-3088
American Institute of Physics

Discoveries from the science of sound at upcoming acoustics meeting

Bio-inspired microphones, sound-enhanced biofuel production, the science behind the cicada's buzz, and more

College Park, May 31, 2013 -- The latest news and discoveries from the science of sound will be featured at the 21st International Congress on Acoustics (ICA 2013), held June 2-7 in Montreal. Experts in acoustics will present research spanning a diverse array of disciplines, including medicine, music, speech communication, noise, and marine ecology.

Lay-language versions of interesting presentations are available at the Acoustical Society of America's Worldwide Press Room.

The following summaries link to full news releases and highlight a few of the meeting's many noteworthy talks.

New Speaker System for Cars Creates Separate "Audio Zones" for Front and Rear Seats: Ever wish that your car's interior cabin could have separate audio zones for the front and rear seats? It soon may. A new approach achieves a significant level of isolation between the front and rear listening zones within a car by using small, modified speakers to produce directional sound fields and a signal processing strategy that optimizes the audio signals used to drive each of the speakers.

Read full news release here: http://www.newswise.com/articles/new-speaker-system-for-cars-creates-separate-audio-zones-for-front-and-rear-seats

Secrets of the Cicada's Sound: Cicadas are unique among insects in their ability to emit loud and annoying sounds. So why would anyone actually want to replicate theses sounds? A team of U.S. Naval researchers have been working on that very problem for several years now, because it turns out that the humble cicada has naturally solved a compelling unmet challenge in underwater communication: how to make an extremely loud noise with a very small body using very little power. A second talk in Montreal will describe an attempt to give a fuller physical explanation of how the cicada generates sound. The explanation, in brief, is that a buckling rib is arrested in its rapid motion by impact with the part of the cicada's anatomy called a tymbal, which functions somewhat as a gong being hit by a hammer. It is set into vibration at nearly a single frequency, and the vibration rapidly dies out.

Read full news release here: http://www.newswise.com/articles/secrets-of-the-cicada-s-sound

Texting Proves Beneficial in Auditory Overload Situations: During command and control operations, military personnel are frequently exposed to extreme auditory overload essentially bombarded by multiple messages coming from radio networks, loudspeakers, and live voices in an environment also filled with high-level noise from weapons and vehicles. Adding a visual cue, such as texting, was explored by a team of researchers in Canada as a way to overcome this problem.

Read full news release here: http://www.newswise.com/articles/texting-proves-beneficial-in-auditory-overload-situations

Researchers Design Sensitive New Microphone Modeled on Fly Ear: Using the sensitive ears of a parasitic fly for inspiration, a group of researchers has created a new type of microphone that achieves better acoustical performance than what is currently available in hearing aids.

Read full news release here: http://www.newswise.com/articles/researchers-design-sensitive-new-microphone-modeled-on-fly-ear

New Technology Modifies Music Hall Acoustics: A new technology that relies on a system of inflatable sound absorbers may help make any performance hall instantly convertible into a venue for music ranging from classical to hard rock.

Read full news release here: http://www.newswise.com/articles/new-technology-modifies-music-hall-acoustics

New Maps Show How Shipping Noise Spans the Globe: The ocean is naturally filled with the sounds of breaking waves, cracking ice, driving rain, and marine animal calls, but more and more, human activity is adding to the noise. Ships' propellers create low-frequency hums that can travel hundreds of kilometers or more in the deep ocean. Scientists have now modeled this shipping noise on a global scale.

Read full release here: http://www.newswise.com/articles/new-maps-show-how-shipping-noise-spans-the-globe

How Flames Change the Sound of a Firefighters' Personal Safety Alarm: The PASS, short for "Personal Alert Safety System," has been used by firefighters for thirty years to help track members of their team who might be injured and need assistance to escape a fire. Though the alarm has saved many lives, there are cases in which the device is working correctly but is not heard or not recognized. In one recent incident report from 2010, firefighters inside a burning building either did not hear or heard and then stopped hearing an alarm that was easily audible from outside the building. Working with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a team of mechanical engineers from the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) has been assessing whether flames might be partially responsible for these occurrences.

Read full release here: http://www.newswise.com/articles/how-flames-change-the-sound-of-a-firefighters-personal-safety-alarm

Croaking Chorus of Cuban Frogs Make Noisy New Neighbors: Human-produced noises from sources such as traffic and trains can substantially impact animals, affecting their ability to communicate, hunt, or even survive. But can the noise made by another animal have the same detrimental effects? A new study examines the calls made by an invasive species of tree frog and suggests the answer is yes.

Read full release here: http://www.newswise.com/articles/croaking-chorus-of-cuban-frogs-make-noisy-new-neighbors

Ultrasound 'Making Waves' for Enhancing Biofuel Production: All chefs know that "you have to break some eggs to make an omelet," and that includes engineers at Iowa State University who are using high-frequency sound waves to break down plant materials in order to cook up a better batch of biofuel. Research has shown that "pretreating" a wide variety of feedstocks (including switch grass, corn stover, and soft wood) with ultrasound consistently enhances the chemical reactions necessary to convert the biomass into high-value fuels and chemicals.

Read full release here: http://www.newswise.com/articles/ultrasound-making-waves-for-enhancing-biofuel-production

Native Ohioans' Speaking Patterns Help Scientists Decipher Famous Moon Landing Quote: When Neil Armstrong took his first step on the Moon, he claimed he said, "One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" but many listeners think he left out the "a." A team of speech scientists and psychologists from Michigan State University (MSU) in East Lansing and The Ohio State University (OSU) in Columbus is taking a novel approach to deciphering Armstrong's quote by studying how speakers from his native central Ohio pronounce "for" and "for a." Their results suggest that it is entirely possible that Armstrong said what he claimed, though evidence indicates that people are statistically more likely to hear "for man" instead of "for a man" on the recording.

Read full release here: http://www.newswise.com/articles/native-ohioans-speaking-patterns-help-scientists-decipher-famous-moon-landing-quote

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MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE ICA 2013 MONTREAL

USEFUL LINKS:

Main meeting website: http://www.ica2013montreal.org/

Itinerary planner and technical program: http://acousticalsociety.org/meetings/ica-2013/

WORLD WIDE PRESS ROOM

ASA's World Wide Press Room will be updated with additional tips on dozens of newsworthy stories and with lay-language papers, which are 300-1200 word summaries of presentations written by scientists for a general audience and accompanied by photos, audio, and video.

PRESS REGISTRATION

We will grant free registration to credentialed journalists and professional freelance journalists. If you are a reporter and would like to attend, contact Jason Bardi (jbardi@aip.org, 240-535-4954), who can also help with setting up interviews and obtaining images, sound clips, or background information.

This news release was prepared for the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) by the American Institute of Physics (AIP).

ABOUT THE ACOUSTICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICA

The Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is the premier international scientific society in acoustics devoted to the science and technology of sound. Its 7,000 members worldwide represent a broad spectrum of the study of acoustics. ASA publications include The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (the world's leading journal on acoustics), Acoustics Today magazine, ECHOES newsletter, books, and standards on acoustics. The society also holds two major scientific meetings each year. For more information about ASA, visit our website at http://www.acousticalsociety.org.



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