Letters to the Editor SpecGram Vol CLII, No 3 Contents Moundsbar Multilingualism—Metalleus

From the Department of Cheap Research

by Woody Ellen

Some time ago I obtained some tapes of whale songs. I noticed that when you speed them way up you get bird songs. Then I obtained some tapes of bird songs and slowed them way down. Guess what I got? Bingo. So now we know something. But what?

Also, both

Comma-tail Z
whale and bird songs sound about the same in both directions, much like Vietnamese.

I figure there are lessons here about why we aren’t hearing from outer space. What if the languages are too fast or too slow for us? How about if we take a chunk of background noise and either speed it up or slow it down? I bet nobody ever thought of that. You could also play it backwards and see what happens. Jeez. People spend more money than that would cost, just to figure out why we have hair.

Probably nobody would fund it since it wouldn’t cost enough. Case in point, I once wrote a grant proposal asking for $14. It was turned down with no explanation.

Anyway, the next step was to play the reworked tapes to whales and birds respectively to see what they do. The sped-up whale tapes attracted a group of zombie-like teenagers who tried to dance to it. (That’s the last time I try to do field work in La Jolla.) The slowed-down bird tapes got my boat buzzed by a low-flying unmanned aircraft, but no whales showed up.

I wonder how much it would cost to send these sounds into outer space? I’d rather like to get rid of them.

Letters to the Editor
Moundsbar Multilingualism—Metalleus
SpecGram Vol CLII, No 3 Contents