Not With The Band: Music Particles Or The Music Of The Universe

Written by | April 20, 2015 6:13 am | No Comments

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The Higgs Boson particle is the rock star of particles, not only people have stupidly named it ‘the god particle’ to physicists’ greatest discontent, but the particle could become an even bigger star… not because of Nick Cave’s song, but because Piotr Traczyk is a particle physicist and a musician.

Traczyk took data plots from the Higgs Boson’s discovery and converted it into music… how did he do that exactly? Data from experiments appear as plots and graphs but they can be mapped to a major scale and arranged so that they could be played by instruments! The picture above gives you an idea of what Traczyk calls a ‘sonification of data from the four big LHC detectors.’

LHC Detectors could be a good name for a band and if you are interested, he explains all the details of the process here. He used two plots from the Higgs discovery, ‘the Higgs-search mass plots in the gamma-gamma and 4-lepton channels’, whatever this means, and the resulting song is written for 2 guitars, one playing the gamma-gamma run, and the other playing the 4-lepton riff a few times. After a few arrangements and the addition of a drum and bass parts, the result is what you can listen to in the video below. It’s short but quite efficient, there is math rock and now physics metal,… I just wonder how many experiments he would need to interpret to get a full song.

Similar experiments have been done before, for example, engineer Domenico Vicinanza has attempted to create music with many things from seismic activity of volcanoes to positrons (the antimatter counterpart of the electron) tracks. According to News Discovery, ‘This new process involves drawing the bubble or cloud chamber particle tracks directly onto music sheets. Each track contour will provide a path for musical notes to be overlaid upon. Then, he will write the melodies and program customized software to harmonize the tracks’…’Vicinanza even noticed that tracks by a particle and its antiparticle result in ‘two symmetric melodies mosing in opposite directions.’

‘My plan is to sonify some of the early tracks recorded with cloud chambers. I was thinking of a piano trio,” Vicinanza told iSGTW. The resulting music sounds a little like scales being played simultaniously — one ascending in notes and the other descending.’

Displays of these events are perfectly symmetric tracks spiraling in opposite directions. Their sonification will be two symmetric melodies, moving in opposite directions,’ he explained for Wired.

I haven’t heard the result but Vicinanza has also sonified the Higgs Boson here, and the result is quite different fromTraczyk’s, more like chamber music. But if you believe in this new interpretation by Traczyk , the real soundtrack of the universe is not some Mozart-like requiem, not even like Strauss’ ‘Also Sprach Zarathustra’ as Kubrick thought, it is heavy, very heavy metal.



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