The “music of the magnetosphere” has been extensively recorded and catalogued by Stephen P. McGreevy, who once drove his dimunitive black van all over North America, antenna close at hand.
McGreevy hopes to capture “the sounds of Earth’s fascinating, naturally-occurring audio-frequency radio signals” – elsewhere referred to as the “radio sounds of ‘space-weather.'”
Better yet, much of McGreevy’s work can be downloaded for home listening.
Audible space weather appears, McGreevy explains, when energy from the sun “impacts Earth’s Magnetosphere and generates lovely Aurora and Natural-Radio Signals.” This topologically endless pressure-front between terrestrial energy and the radioactivity of the sun whistles, hisses and growls throughout McGreevy’s MP3s.
The classicist inside me wonders: if Homer had made digital field recordings, wouldn’t he, too, have sought these silent whisperings of the sun? Hymns from Apollo.
What new myths exist at the ends of untuned antennas? And what the hell is that sound?
This auroral chorus almost implies that birds imitate the sounds of space-weather every time they sing – but that claim clearly can’t be substantiated while I’m typing into a laptop. (Can birds hear space weather? It’s a legitimate question).
I actually find myself wondering at least two more things: 1) if humans had evolved just slightly differently, with different ears and skull structure, what catastrophic shiverings of distant galaxies might we hear? Eavesdropping on the sky, ablaze with endless whistling. Detonations of stars. Galaxial light.
2) Could you build a city that deliberately cultivates space weather? It’d use special metals in the frames of skyscrapers, and – if you did it right – the city itself would act as both antenna and loudspeaker, filling the streets with howls…
If it worked, would anyone live there?
This, for instance, is the sound of space weather above London – so perhaps it’s possible to turn every city into vast canyons of white noise, neutron stars blasting empty avenues with sound. Forget light pollution – you’d hear London, hissing, unearthly, at the limit of the distant horizon. Sonic landmark.
The sky – unplugged.