Melville, New York, May 3, 2001
What are the earliest sounds in the universe that can be detected? How can 21st-century "smart" materials emulate the musical instruments of master violin makers? What different kinds of information does a "crack" and "clunk" of a bat hitting a ball tell a baseball player about where the ball will land?
These and other questions will be addressed at the 141st Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), to be held June 4-8, 2001 at the Palmer House Hilton Hotel, 17 East Monroe Street, Chicago, Illinois (312-726-7500). Over 1,000 papers will be presented. The ASA is the largest scientific organization in the United States devoted to acoustics, with over 7000 members worldwide.
The Acoustics of Baseball Boosting Violin IQs Extraterrestrial Acoustics Neurological Research Could Impact Diagnosis of Auditory-Based Learning Disorders Scat Happens Encouraging Cancer Treatment Combines Shock Wave and Immunotherapy Treatments A Microphone Necklace for Hearing Aids Automatic Gender Identification and American English Dialects Customizing Car Sounds Number Sequences for Physics, Engineering, and Art Taking Pictures of Tinnitus You Can Play That? Listening to Whale Watchers: Overcoming Acoustical Adversity Concert Halls Around the World and the First 80 Milliseconds First Measurements of Sonochemistry Products from Single Bubbles Maxwell's Acoustics
Bats cracking, umpires growling, fans cheering--our national pastime provides no greater joys than its sounds. An entire session on the acoustics of baseball is planned for the Chicago meeting. Baseball's sounds can provide helpful cues for the players--and an education on basic science concepts. Yale University's Robert K. Adair (firstname.lastname@example.org), a well-known expert on the physics of baseball, will describe the different kinds of information imparted by the "cracks" and "clunks" of balls hitting a wooden bat in helping a baseball player to judge where the ball is going (Paper 5pAA1). Dartmouth's Robert Collier, who has designed hard-to-break bats made of composite materials, will explain how the efficiency of energy transfer to the batted ball is affected by such things as the vibrations of the bat and the sound it produces (5pAA2). Knowledge of acoustical science can help stadium builders get the sound right the first time, and prevent costly renovations for poorly designed acoustics. Acoustical consultant David Marsh (email@example.com) will discuss the challenges of designing good acoustics in baseball stadiums, including strategies for minimizing undesired echoes in both open-air and enclosed stadiums (5pAA3). Jim Brown of Audio Systems Group in Chicago (firstname.lastname@example.org) will discuss the design of sound systems for ballparks. Atmospheric conditions, such as wind and temperature variations, can greatly affect how the sound is transmitted in a ballpark and surrounding areas, where it is necessary to minimize the intrusion of noise (5pAA4).
Violins and other stringed instruments have been the subjects of extensive study for the past 350 years. Wood quality, structural acoustics, and various physical characteristics have often been at the center of research seeking to reveal the secrets of instrument designers such as the legendary violin maker Antonius Stradivarius. Saytha Hanagud(email@example.com, 404-894-3040) and Xia Lu of the Georgia Institute of Technology, however, have taken a different approach from their scientific predecessors--they are attempting to duplicate the sound quality of great violins with actively controlled smart structures. Piezoelectric crystals, magnetostrictive materials, and certain types of gels are often at the heart structures deemed "smart" because they can change shape, size, stiffness, or other characteristics in response to various stimuli such as electrical current, temperature, magnetic fields, or the acidity of a control fluid. The researchers will present procedures they have developed to modify the structural dynamics of a "smart violin" that can potentially replicate the elegant, passive designs of master instrument craftsmen. (5aMU7)
Sounds of the universe and what we can learn from them are the topic of session 2pPAa. The uneven distribution of matter in the early universe created pressure variations in the cosmos, and therefore sound waves. These sound waves are revealed by the Cosmic Microwave Background, ripples in the sky that provide a snapshot of the universe at 400,000 years of age. Michael Turner of the University of Chicago and Fermilab (firstname.lastname@example.org) will explain how these early acoustic waves can provide information on the age of the universe, its curvature, and the amount of normal matter and invisible "dark" matter (2pPAa1). Jupiter's moon Europa promises to have conditions favorable for life, with the possibility of a liquid ocean under its surface of water ice. Inspired by evidence for regularly occurring ice fractures that generate significant amounts of sound, Aaron Thode (email@example.com) and his colleagues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology will suggest the possibility of probing Europa's interior, such as its ice thickness, by deploying an array of surface microphones that listen to naturally occurring sound (2pPAa6). In efforts to learn more about Jupiter's atmosphere, Joseph Lingevitch of the Naval Research Lab(firstname.lastname@example.org) will discuss how Galileo observations and new models are providing important insights into not-fully-explained circular waves that were created by Comet Shoemaker-Levy when it crashed into Jupiter (2pPAa3). On Mars, no one may be able to easily hear middle C. Calculations which may hold importance for future space missions suggest that the Mars atmosphere absorbs 100-500 times more sound in the mid-audio frequencies (around 500 Hz, which is near middle C), depending on the relative humidity (Paper 2pPAa5, James P. Chambers, University of Mississippi,email@example.com).
For the first time, researchers from Northwestern University have identified neural timing deficits in the auditory pathway of children with learning problems. In their talk (2pAB6) Tuesday afternoon, researchers Nina Kraus (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Cynthia King will present evidence that these timing deficits can affect children's ability to perceive fundamental differences in certain basic acoustic features of speech. The researchers studied normal and learning-impaired groups of children, and observed that the learning-impaired children had measurable deficiencies in neural synchrony (a neurobiologic process involving neural responses that depend on synchronous activity across a population of neurons). The researchers found that these timing deficits are related to performance on speech-sound perception and learning measures, and suggest that this research could significantly impact the diagnosis of auditory-based learning disorders in children. In their talk, Kraus and King will also discuss first evidence of brain/behavior changes associated with commercially available auditory training regimens in children with learning problems.
Scat singing is a vocal style characterized by wordless syllables generally sung in solo improvisation. The technique was popularized by artists such as Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith, but has roots extending back to early West African musical traditions. Hideki Kawahara (email@example.com, 81-734-57-8461) and Haruhiro Katayose of Wakayama University in Japan hope to simulate the complex vocal stylings with a speech manipulation system called STRAIGHT. The researchers will discuss a dynamical model that generates a highly natural scat singing sound and present a demonstration in the form of a scat chorus. (3pMU3)
Researchers at the University of Michigan, Washington State University and Southern Illinois University (Douglas Miller, University of Michigan, firstname.lastname@example.org) will present their findings on Friday afternoon (5pBB4), showing that mice with melanoma cancer lived longer after being treated with a combination of lithotripter shock waves (SWs) and the drug interleukin-12, than with either treatment alone--or no treatment at all. Lithotripter shock waves are very high pressure ultrasonic pulses which can be generated outside the body and focused on a target inside the body. SWs are currently used in medicine to treat kidney stones without surgery. This group presents results that show mice with a combination of shock wave and drug treatment had significantly prolonged survival, and one mouse had complete tumor remission. The American Cancer Society says melanoma, while only accounting for 4% of all skin cancers, is the most deadly--causing 79% of skin cancer deaths.
Researchers have just created useful jewelry for hearing-impaired persons. Bernard Widrow of Stanford (email@example.com) has designed a necklace of microphones that is supported on the user's chest by a conducting loop that encircles the user's neck. Electronic components on the necklace receive and combine the microphone signals so as to provide an amplified signal emphasizing sounds of interest originating in front of the user. A small coil in the ear picks up the signal. Widrow says this system is "comfortable, inconspicuous, and convenient to use" and it provides a significant improvement in speech perception over existing hearing aids, especially in the presence of echoes and background noise. (3pSP1) In separate attempts to make telephone speech easier to discern with hearing aids, Peter Nordqvist of the Royal University of Sweden will discuss the creation of a mathematical algorithm for a smart hearing aid which could automatically recognize telephone speech and change its settings (such as reducing its volume) to make the telephone speech easier to hear. (5aSCb2)
Alireza Afshordi Dibazar of the University of Southern California will present a new automatic voice identication system which has demonstrated 99.2% accuracy in classifying the gender of the speaker. The researchers say that their method is easy to implement into voice recognition systems (1pSC30, contact Theodore Berger, USC, firstname.lastname@example.org). Analyzing six different regional dialects of American English, Cynthia Clopper (email@example.com) and David Pisoni of Indiana University have found that several different features distinguish the dialects. Listeners can easily categorize these dialects into three groups, but had problems categorizing the speakers into the six smaller regions. (1aSC10)
Acoustics has become a marketing tool for car sales. Engineers have made great strides in reducing noise inside cars to much lower levels than before. Computer models can control and simulate different sounds in the vehicle. According to Hans P. Schedl of Audi in Ingolstadt, Germany, designers can customize interior vehicle noise, such as engine sounds, for specific brands or types of cars. Schedl will demonstrate how the interior noise of a car can be modified to sound like an upper-class luxury sedan or a high-performance sports car. (2pNS1) Not all sound problems in cars have been solved, however. Mawuli Dzirasa of Georgia Tech (firstname.lastname@example.org) and colleagues will discuss a new technique for reducing brake squeal, an annoying phenomenon that occurs when vehicles brake at low speeds (2pNS7); this topic is also covered in papers 2pNS6 and 2aSAa1.
Sequences of numbers are not just abstract mathematics; they have unexpected and practical uses in many areas of science and engineering, including acoustics. Foremost among these, according to Manfred R. Schroeder of the University of Goettingen(email@example.com), are maximum-length sequences, which are essentially semi-random sequences of pulses. Schroeder will explain how such pulses can help measure concert hall acoustics, the general theory of relativity (by measuring radar echoes from planets), the travel times of deep-ocean sound waves (for monitoring ocean temperature), and improving synthetic speech and the sounds associated with computer music. (3aSP1) Other talks at the session will concentrate upon the application of number sequences to architectural acoustics (3aSP2) and sound-based pollution monitoring in the atmosphere 3aSP10).
One of the most widespread and frustrating hearing diseases is subjective tinnitus, in which the listener experiences what can be an unrelenting noise inside the head such as ringing or buzzing. It has been a mystery as to exactly what creates these noises even when no external sound produces them. Alan Lockwood of VA Healthcare Upstate New York and the University of Buffalo (firstname.lastname@example.org) will present new medical studies of tinnitus that employ positron emission tomography, a medical technique for lighting up active regions of the brain as it performs various tasks. Two studies of human subjects suggest that tinnitus does not originate in the cochlea, the inner ear where sound waves from the outside world are converted into electrical signals which travel to the brain. Instead, evidence suggests that tinnitus originates farther along the auditory pathway, closer to brain processing centers. In fact, other sensory or motor systems may interact with these aberrant pathways, and this might explain how subjects can sometimes move their jaw or perform other actions to vary the volume and pitch of the sounds they are hearing. Such interactions with the motor and neural pathways are complex and may explain why tinnitus is unresponsive to many drugs. This work may help assist efforts to design effective drugs for treating tinnitus. (1pPP5) Other talks at session 1pPP describe cutting-edge neuroimaging of auditory processes.
Percussion instruments built of wood, metal, glass, and stone; ceramic flutes and sound sculptures inspired by ancient wind instruments;unusual tunings and scales; and a numerical model duplicating the sounds of the Woodstock Gamelan tubular chimes. These are just a few of the subjects addressed in session 2pMU dedicated to experimental musical instruments. The session begins with an overview of recent trends in musical instrument making (2pMU1) by Bart Hopkin of Experimental Musical Instruments (email@example.com) who will describe numerous unusual instruments including Richard Water's Waterphone and Ellen Fullman's renowned Long String Instrument. Subsequent talks address novel percussion instruments (Thomas D. Rossing, Northern Illinois University, firstname.lastname@example.org, 2pMU2), 21st century acoustic and orchestral instruments (Patrick Ozzard-Low, London Guildhall University, email@example.com, 2pMU4), and new woodwinds (Lewis Jones, London Guildhall University, firstname.lastname@example.org, 2pMU6), among others.
Australian researchers have found that the rapid change of noise levels produced by whale-watching boats that maneuver constantly may be more offensive to humpback whales than the noise levels themselves. In a talk Thursday afternoon (4pAB6) Robert McCauley from Curtin University, and Douglas Cato from the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (email@example.com) will present their research on humpback whales in Hervey Sound (Queensland). McCauley and Cato found that the whales responded more adversely to the rate of change of underwater noise produced from the design of various types of whale watching vessels, than to the steady level of noise. The researchers also suggest some important design criteria that impact underwater noise, that they recommend be taken into account when designing whale-watching vessels.
In a concert, the sound that goes directly from musical instruments to a listener's ear only gives part of the acoustical experience: The reflections of the sound from the various surfaces in the hall are greatly important. Conventional wisdom dictates that the most important reflections for determining sound quality of a concert hall occur in the first 80 milliseconds (thousandths of a second) after the direct sound. John Bradley of the National Research Council of Canada (firstname.lastname@example.org) will discuss why these early reflections have been considered so critical. (1pAA1) Tor Halmrast of Statsbygg (email@example.com), a government building consultant in Norway, points out that reflections produce colorations in the sound which might be used for desirable effects in various instruments and registers of sound(1pAA7). Acoustical consultant Richard H. Talaske (firstname.lastname@example.org) will cite numerous building spaces in most of the sound one hears is a reflection, rather than direct sound; surprisingly, good speech intelligibility can sometimes be achieved in these cases, when much of the sound that one hears is a reflection (1pAA9) Session 2aAAa will contain over 100 poster presentations each devoted to a different concert hall around the world, from Chicago to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. At session 4aAA, attendees will embark on a walking tour to three notable Chicago theaters: the Auditorium Theater, the Oriental Theater, and the Goodman Theater. A technical discussion will take place at each stop.
Using simple laboratory equipment, scientists can focus sound waves into a tiny space and convert it into a pulse of light. In a process known as sonoluminescence, researchers aim ultrasound waves at a water tank to create bubbles which collapse and release a flash of light. In a closely related process, known as sonochemistry, the collapsing bubbles perform chemical tasks such as breaking down hazardous chemicals to simpler, nonhazardous molecules and creating nanometer-scale biomaterials. Sometimes sonoluminescence and sonochemistry happen together, but the difficulties of observing the collapsing bubbles makes the details of each process very difficult to elucidate. Now, Yuri Didenko and Kenneth Suslick of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (email@example.com) studied sonoluminescence in a single bubble and measured, for the first time, yields of hydroxl (OH) molecules and nitrite ions. Such information can help researchers understand the nature of cavitation (bubble formation) and the origin of single bubble sonoluminescence. (2aPAa4)
One of the greatest physicists of all time, nineteenth-century Scottish physicist James Clerk Maxwell is known mainly for developing the equations that united electricity and magnetism into a single framework which still provides many important applications today in electronics and other areas. Much less known is Maxwell's important contributions to acoustics, some of which will be brought to light by Philip Marston of Washington State University (firstname.lastname@example.org). In the kinetic theory of gases, which explained gas behavior in terms of atoms and molecules, Maxwell stated that he intended to address propagation of sound. He never published this in his subsequent papers, but he did examine the relationship between the speed of sound and an average or "root mean square" speed of atoms and molecules in gases. This was communicated to a colleague who published this result in a subsequent manuscript. Marston has also found some less-known contributions of Maxwell, who refereed the manuscripts of journals which published the papers of many world-class acousticians. Some manuscripts became classics in the field. He also suggested the title for Lord Rayleigh's widely known tome, "The Theory of Sound." (4aPA1)
These items were prepared by Ben Stein, Rory McGee, and James Riordon of the American Institute of Physics in cooperation with the Acoustical Society of America.
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