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Everyday science

Everyday science

LaTeX emojis and salty sounds from the world’s oceans

08 Jun 2018 Hamish Johnston
Argo map
Conceptual art ahoy: a map showing the locations of Argo probes (Courtesy: Argo)

Today is World Oceans Day, and to celebrate you can listen to “Music by the Oceans” by the conceptual artist and composer Stef Veldhuis and oceanographer Erik van Sebille – who are both in the Netherlands. According to the ERC=Science² website, “The project revives the romantic theme of music in a bottle, by transforming the data from submersible Argo robots across the oceans into melodies”. In case you are wondering, Argo is a global array of nearly 4000 buoys (see figure) that measure the temperature and salinity of the sea from surface level to a depth of 2 km.

Physicists have been in a love-hate relationship with LaTeX for 35 years. While the typesetting software excels at handling complicated equations, it resembles a programming language and can seem daunting to people who normally use WYSIWYG systems like Word. Now, computer programmer Mike Bostock has come up with a way of improving LaTeX – by incorporating emojis into equations.


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