Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Music of the Spheres

Click through for the music of the spheres! It's pretty cool but it would be more interesting and less pleasant if the tones were less arbitrarily assigned, as they seem to be. Maybe based on a log of the mass or diameter of each planet to try to keep it within the range of human hearing (unlike the natural tone of supermassive black holes). Maybe they could get David Cope's AI to do it. Plus, as they have it, the solar system sounds too much like a casino for comfort. I felt like asking Saturn to comp me for a martini.

It occurs to me that Kepler's original work on the geometry of the solar system spent lots of time showing how it could be compared to musical chords. He (and Newton) might be horrified at the brusqueness of how the r-squared law of gravitation was re-derived as an exercise by Bayesian inference last year.

Reading original sources in science and philosophy is interesting for many reasons. One of them is that you can see how presentation styles have changed especially in terms of what is now considered extraneous. Plato in particular has a lot of superstitious gravel along with the gold nuggets; good thing there aren't people who demand that we take literally every last sentence in Republic.

No comments: