A commenter, Edward Hessler, asked for a bit of explanation about what the difference is between a phenomenologist and a more “formal” theorist, since I recently mentioned some of us overlapping during workshops at the Aspen Center for Physics.
I offered this (see below) as a starter explanation. (Feel free to refine, disagree, agree, etc, in the comments. It is always interesting to hear different people’s takes on this.)
Continue reading ‘What’s The Difference?’
What is this? It’s whale song, obviously! Not so obvious? Ok, let’s take a step back. You’ve heard whale song, no doubt. Either in the context of movies, a cheesy movement a decade ago of adding clips of them to pop and rock songs, wildlife documentaries, and so forth. It’s lovely and mysterious, and -new age poppycock aside- really quite captivating. There are a lot of scientific questions about whale song too. Are these noises random? Is there content? How much content? How individual-whale-specific is a whale song? If there’s information, is it wisdom of the ancients, directiions to food, or just gossip about whale celebrities?
All questions you’ve asked yourself too, I don’t doubt.
Well, some of our best minds are on the job, you’ll be pleased to know. One of them, Mark Fischer, is taking a new approach to the problem, with rather beautiful results. He is using a wavelet transform (Amara’s wavelet site, and a wikipedia link, both giving information about what that is) to analyze whale songs and then colour coding them (among other things) to aid in visualizing the results. The results are quite striking, I hope you agree, and here’s another:
There’s a New York Times article on his work that can be found here, and from which I quote: Continue reading ‘What Jonah Heard But Did Not See’