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EGU 2018: shaken not stirred

11 Apr 2018 Liz Kalaugher
Graeme Marlton
Graeme Marlton of the University of Reading, UK, demonstrates the hertz project, which translates infrasound from natural phenomena into sensations that humans can experience. (Courtesy: Hugh Mortimer)

It’s not every day you get shaken by Mount Etna. Particularly if you’re a long way from Sicily. But researchers at the European Geosciences Union general assembly in Vienna attending the science and art session could sit on a chair attached to a transducer – as used in cinemas and by gamers looking for a 4D experience – and feel recordings of infrasound from the volcano. Those desiring a more gentle option could experience the aurora borealis instead.

Together with artist Juliet Robson, atmospheric dynamicist Graeme Marlton of the University of Reading, UK, has developed the tech for public engagement in a project known as hertz. Those using the art exhibit for real sit in front of a sub-woofer that blasts out the infrasound once the kit has translated it to frequencies just high enough for humans to hear (by playing it some 200 times faster), so they hear as well as feel the natural phenomena. Infrasound, which has frequencies less than 20 Hz, is created by ocean waves, the aurora, volcanoes, supersonic aircraft and glaciers, among others.

Robson, Marlton and colleagues are looking for further applications and partners for their project so get in touch if you’d like a chair for your meeting or events space.

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