Elmina Castle

Elmina Castle

We are rattling down the Ghana coast at about 70 mph passing signs saying ‘Slow Down – 72 Deaths Here!’ overtaking the gigantic dumper trucks on flatbeds bound for gold mines in the interior. We cross a vast sleepy river and finally Elmina Castle comes into view, grasping the rocky horizon, framed picturesquely by palm trees … Continue reading

A microphone is not a telescope

A microphone is not a telescope

I envy astronomers who can use powerful telescopes to peer back into the past and view galaxies as they were millions, billions of years ago. We cannot use a microphone to pick up past noises because as sounds pass through the air their energy dissipates quickly. Aliens looking back at earth could see dinosaurs but … Continue reading

Hearing is believing

Hearing is believing

We’ve come to Harvard University where experimenters in the 1930s found that when listeners hear a disembodied voice over loudspeakers they can’t but help jump to conclusions about the person doing the talking. They infuse these strangers with personality, making judgements about their politics, their mood, even their appearance. A second experiment got one group … Continue reading

What is hush anyway?

What is hush anyway?

Today we captured the hushed atmosphere of a 1920’s skyscraper – the first office building to be designed with sound-proofing in mind from the start. The New York Life Insurance Building has wall insulation made mashed up cow hair and heavy duty windows. What is hush anyway? Not complete silence but people in the distance … Continue reading

Coney Island

Coney Island

Last time I was here was 25 years ago and nothing has changed.  The Cyclone roller coaster still looms. This time though, after years of making radio, I notice all the tiny sounds of a resort in the off season.  The clanking of the fences, the distant ‘D’ train squealing against a rail, even a … Continue reading

Sounds from the cave

Sounds from the cave

What sounds did our prehistoric ancestors hear? We visited the cave of Arcy-sur-Cure in Burgundy. I brought a head torch.  David’s ipad should have been ideal for script reference but it keep switching to screen save during critical sentences.  Our guide, Iegor Reznikoff is an expert on cave acoustics and was nimble as a goat … Continue reading