Sound Bites - News From The World Press
Contributor: Robert MacNevin
This section provides news headlines of interest to acoustic ecologists. Links to full articles are provided for quick access.
Microphones catch out noisy bars. (BBC News) The streets of Soho may soon have ears as well as eyes as a pilot scheme gets under way to install microphones alongside CCTV cameras.
The wireless devices fitted to lampposts would allow Westminster Council to monitor noise remotely.
It would mean inspectors can check complaints about noisy bars, clubs and even neighbours, rather than visit the scene, which can take up to 40 minutes. Read Full Story.
Flight path noise targets reached. (BBC News) Manchester airport's second runway was opened in 200. A target set for aircraft on one of the UK's busiest flight paths has been met for the first time by planes flying from Manchester airport. A record 50 airlines met the noise-reduction standards in 2004. Read Full Story.
A Duck's Quack Doesn't Echo, and no-one knows the reason why? (University of Salford) "A duck's quack doesn't echo" is a much quoted scientific myth. In spring 2003 it was quoted on Home Truths on BBC Radio 4 and Shooting Stars on BBC 2. You can listen to our sound files on Home Truths by going to the BBC4 web site and "listening again". Recently, Salford Acoustics was the source of the story being presented in the national and international media when we proved that a duck's quack does echo as part of the British Association Festival of Science. Read Full Story.
Nanotech Will Bring the World to Its Ears. (e-Week.com) Researchers see nanotechnology in the future as a bridge to truly ubiquitous communications.
Jeffrey Jaffe, the president of Lucent Technologies Inc's Bell Labs Research and Advanced Technologies operation, spoke at the NanoBusiness Conference, a gathering of nanotechnology researchers, venture capitalists and Wall Street analysts in Manhattan.
During his keynote address, Jaffe said that the pieces are falling in place to create nanotechnology-enabled communications networks that allow people to converse over great distances, while feeling as if they're in the same room.
Bell Labs is developing tiny radios and microphones, as well as so-called electronic corneas, which are tiny cameras, as well as technology that could enhance batteries. These are technologies that would be used separately at first, but which may one day be combined to create a unified communication system as suggested by Jaffe.
The lab's "cell phone" project, for example, is a transmitter that's small enough to fit inside a single animal cell. Read Full Story.
Cellphone Ring Tone Becomes Hit. (Globe and Mail) A cellphone ring tone appeared set to top the British singles chart recently, outselling the new single by the band Coldplay by nearly four to one, a music retailer said.
Crazy Frog Axel F, a ring tone based on the sound of a revving Swedish moped, is the first tune being used on mobile phones to cross into mainstream music charts, said Gennaro Castaldo, a spokesman for HMV, the British music retailing chain. Read Full Story.
Mobile phones ring silent but true in Thai school for the deaf. (Agence France Presse) Most Bangkok schools have banned cell phones in the classroom, after students were caught using text messages to cheat on tests.
But at the city's first school for the deaf, students are encouraged to bring their phones to classes where SMS text messages have become a valuable teaching tool.
In this strikingly silent school, where bells don't ring and students chat with their hands in the hallways, students are to be seen busily using their thumbs to speak to friends, teachers and their families.
Teachers at Sethsathien School, which opened in 1953, have steadily incorporated the phones to help children's education and their efforts to communicate better with the outside world -- and each other. Read Full Story.
US Federal Report Warns of RFID Misuses. (ZDNet News) Radio frequency identification is becoming increasingly popular inside the U.S. government, but agencies have not seriously considered the privacy risks, federal auditors said.
In a report published Friday, the Government Accountability Office said that 13 of the largest federal agencies are already using RFID or plan to use it. But only one of 23 agencies polled by the GAO had identified any legal or privacy issues--even though three admitted RFID would let them track employee movements.
"Key security issues include protecting the confidentiality, integrity and availability of the data and information systems," the GAO said. "The privacy issues include notifying consumers; tracking an individual's movements; profiling an individual's habits, tastes and predilections; and allowing for secondary uses of information." Read Full Story.
With Irreverence and an iPod, Recreating the Museum Tour. (NYTimes) The rise of podcasting is now enabling museum goers not simply to enjoy audio guides on a sleeker-looking device but also to concoct their own guides and tours. A New York art Web site, woostercollective.com, recently made a sound-seeing tour of the Jean-Michel Basquiat retrospective at the Brooklyn Museum, which the Web site's creators made in hushed tones while wandering through the show, sometimes quoting from the museum's official audio guide, which they listened to as they chatted. These downloadable programs provide a different perspective of art from that provided by the usual museum audio guides. Read Full Story.
Aircraft noise 'affects learning'. (BBC News) A team from Barts and the London NHS Trust looked at data on more than 2,800 children living near Heathrow and other airports in Spain and the Netherlands.
The Lancet study found each five decibel increase in noise level was linked to children being up to two months behind in their reading age.
A US expert said the study supported previous research findings. Read Full Story.
Race-Car Safety Plays by Ear. (wired.com) Danika Patrick, the first woman to lead an Indianapolis 500, and the 21 other drivers who are competing on the IndyCar circuit this year are wearing tiny accelerometers inside custom-made earpieces designed to make racing safer.
The earpieces, manufactured by Sensaphonics, a Chicago hearing-conservation company, protect the drivers' ears from the constant, high-decibel engine noise; they also contain tiny speakers that provide quality pit-crew-to-driver radio communications and microelectronic accelerometers that measure G-forces on drivers' heads during crashes. Read Full Story.
Not long left for cassette tapes. (BBC News) From its creation in the 1960s through to its peak of popularity in the 1980s, the cassette has been a part of music culture for 40 years. However, the cassette's reign now seems to be over.
"Cassette albums have declined quite significantly since their peak in 1989 when they were selling 83 million units in the UK," Matt Phillips of the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) told BBC World Service's The Music Biz programme.
With the US's largest magnetic tape factory ceasing production earlier this year, there are fears that even if cassettes are wanted in future, there will no longer be anything to wrap around the spools. Read Full Story.