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Listening to the Cosmos


Highfield Campus

Building: B44

Room: Purple Foyer (L2) and Rm 2103 (talk)

Date and Time (UK time):
07/05/2022 14:30-15:00
Age suitable for: 7+

Accessibility alert:
  • Hearing loop available
  • Tactile activities for visually impaired



Astronomy is in a golden age of discovery, but astronomy is also a visually-intensive science.

There are very few opportunities for the visually-impaired to participate in these discoveries.

You can help us find the answers: can we enable the visually-impaired community to make meaningful discoveries through data analysis, and how can we ensure that they are able to share in the excitement of astronomy?

We will showcase a sonification prototype software which allows auditory data analysis.

You can also join Professor Poshak Gandhi for a talk at 14:30 to find out more about the subject!

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PRE-INFORMATION ON THE TALK

This is a talk, approximately 30 minutes long. The talk will be held in Building 44, Room 2103, starting at 2:30 PM.
The talk will address the question: "How can we use senses other than sight to carry out data analysis?" In particular, we will ask whether it is possible to use hearing instead of sight to identify signals in data. This is particularly relevant for people of the visually impaired community.
Astronomical research relies heavily on vision. If, instead, visual signals could be effectively translated into sound, people could potentially identify signals by listening to these signals.
This talk will demonstrate the concept of converting data into sound (also known as 'sonification') using a variety of cosmic phenomena as examples including black holes, pulsars, the Sun and distant galaxies.
The talk will be ideal for secondary school pupils and adults. Primary school children may also enjoy the variety of sounds and pictures that will be demonstrated.
Please be aware that some sounds may appear a bit jarring at first, with somewhat unusual frequencies and tones. You should quickly become accustomed to the sounds. The speaker will also warn audience members in advance of a sound being played.
Concurrently, there will be a table with several 3D printed models of various heavenly bodies, including galaxies and a black hole. These tactile models can be used to complement audio sense. Together, multi-sensorial techniques including sight, sound and touch have great potential to improve learning and exploration of concepts. The table with models will be set up in the corridor outside the lecture room in Building 44.