Stellar Music

The Multiperiodic Pulsating Star Y Cam A as a Musical Instrument

Burak Ulas
In this study we generate musical chords from the oscillation frequencies of the primary component of oscillating eclipsing Algol system Y Cam. The parameters and the procedure of the musical chord generation process from the stellar oscillations are described in detail. A musical piece is also composed in appropriate scale for Y Cam A by using the generated chords from the results of the asteroseismic analysis of the stellar data. The music scores and the digital sound files are provided for both the generated chords and the musical composition. Our study shows that the further orchestral compositions can be made from the frequency analysis results of several pulsating stars by using the procedure stated in present study.


Oxford Scientist Explains the Physics of Playing Electric Guitar Solos

You’ve heard it before. A power ballad from the 1970s or 1980s is playing and there, smack in the middle, is a face-melting guitar solo that seems to go all over the place before blowing your mind with sheer awesomeness. Think Jimi Hendrix. Think Eric Clapton. And especially think Eddie Van Halen. Unlike the piano, which can only play discrete notes, the guitar can, in the hands of someone like Sir Eddie, bend notes. It’s a quality that recalls the human voice, and it’s most likely what has made the electric guitar the go-to instrument for popular music over the past 50 years.

Enter Dr. David Grimes of Oxford University. While by day he might be working out mathematical models of oxygen distribution to help improve cancer treatment, by night he, too, likes to shred on his electric guitar. So, at some point along the line, he decided to apply a little scientific rigor to the instrument he loves. “I wanted to understand what it was about these guitar techniques that allows you to manipulate pitch,” he said in an interview.

In the name of science, Grimes was forced to make some pretty brutal sacrifices. “I took one of my oldest guitars down to the engineering lab at Dublin City University to one of the people I knew there and explained that I wanted to strip it down to do this experiment. We had to accurately bend the strings to different extents and measure the frequency produced. He was a musician too and looked at me with abject horror. But we both knew it needed to be done – We put some nails into my guitar for science.’

Grimes ended up writing an academic paper on the topic called “String Theory – The Physics of String-Bending and Other Electric Guitar Techniques.” “It turns out it’s actually reasonably straightforward,’ said Grimes. “It’s an experiment a decent physics undergraduate could do, and a cool way of studying some basic physics principles. It’s also potentially useful to string manufacturers and digital instrument modellers.”

You can read Grime’s paper here or, if your idea of fun does not include wading through a lot of complex equations, you can watch the brief video presentation above on his research. And below is a ridiculously sweet guitar solo from Van Halen. While you watch ponder the totally awesome physics involved.


Paint it Black: Cosmic Clumps Cast the Darkest Shadows

Astronomers have found cosmic clumps so dark, dense and dusty that they throw the deepest shadows ever recorded. Infrared observations from NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope of these blackest-of-black regions paradoxically light the way to understanding how the brightest stars form.

The clumps represent the darkest portions of a huge, cosmic cloud of gas and dust located about 16,000 light-years away. A new study takes advantage of the shadows cast by these clumps to measure the cloud’s structure and mass.

The dusty cloud, results suggest, will likely evolve into one of the most massive young clusters of stars in our galaxy. The densest clumps will blossom into the cluster’s biggest, most powerful stars, called O-type stars, the formation of which has long puzzled scientists. These hulking stars have major impacts on their local stellar environments while also helping to create the heavy elements needed for life.

Astronomers have found cosmic clumps so dark, dense and dusty that they throw the deepest shadows ever recorded. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Zurich

Astronomers have found cosmic clumps so dark, dense and dusty that they throw the deepest shadows ever recorded. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Zurich

“The map of the structure of the cloud and its dense cores we have made in this study reveals a lot of fine details about the massive star and star cluster formation process,” said Michael Butler, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Zurich in Switzerland and lead author of the study, published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. Continue reading Paint it Black: Cosmic Clumps Cast the Darkest Shadows


A Capella Science – Bohemian Gravity!

Is string theory right?
Is it just fantasy?
Caught in the landscape,
Out of touch with reality
On S5 or T*S3

Space is a pure void
Why should it be stringy?
Because it’s quantum not classical
Any way you quantize
You’ll encounter infinity
You see

Must interact
Via paths we understand
Using Feynman diagrams
Often, they will just rebound
But now and then they go another way
A quantum
Infinities will make you cry
Unless you can renormalize your model
Of baryons, fermions
And all other states of matter

Curved space:
The graviton
Can be thought of as a field
But these infinities are real
In a many-body
Loop diagram
Our results diverge no matter what we do…
A Quantum Soup (any way you quantize)
Kiss your fields goodbye
Guess Einstein’s theory wasn’t complete at all!

I see extended 1-D objects with no mass
What’s their use? What’s their use? Can they give us quark plasma?
What to minimize?
What functional describes this
Nambu-Goto! (Nambu-Goto)
Nambu-Goto! (Nambu-Goto)
How to quantize I don’t know
I’m just a worldsheet, please minimize me
He’s just a worldsheet from a string theory
Reperametrized by a Weyl symmetry!

Fermi, Bose, open, closed, orientable?
Modes! They become particles (particles!)
They become particles (particles!)
They become particles (particles!)
Become particles (particles!)
Become particles (many many many many particle…)
Modes modes modes modes modes modes modes!
Oh mamma mia mamma mia,
Such a sea of particles!
A tachyon, with a dilaton and gravity-vity-VITY

(rock out!)

Now we need ten dimensions and I’ll tell you why
(anomaly cancellation!)
So to get down to 4D we compactify!
Oh, Kahler!
(Kahler manifold)
Manifolds must be Kahler!
(Complex Reimannian symplectic form)
If we wanna preserve
Any of our super-symmetry

(Superstrings of type I, IIa and IIb)
(Heterotic O and Heterotic E)
(All are one through S and T duality)
(Thank you Ed Witten for that superstring revolution and your new M-theory!)

(Type IIB String!)
Dual! Dual!
(In the AdS/CFT)

Molecules and atoms
Light and energy
Time and space and matter
All from one united

Any way you quantize…

Lyrics and arrangement by Tim Blais and A Capella Science
Original music by Queen