Until 4 July, London - Songs of the stars, Royal Society, London

Until 4 July, London - Songs of the stars, Royal Society, London

Postby Graham Southorn » Thu Jul 01, 2010 6:20 pm

This just in...

[b][size=3]Universities conduct orchestra of the stars [/size][/b]
[size=2]Astrophysicists unveil hands-on exploration at Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition [/size]

When it comes revealing the secrets of the Universe, astrophysicists have proved that hearing, and not seeing, is believing.

Led by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) six UK universities will reveal that astronomers are now able to explore the inner secrets of the stars using sound alone.

The research, aptly named “Songs of the Stars - the real Music of the Spheres”, is a collaborative project involving UCLan, Birmingham, Sheffield, Sheffield-Hallam, Queen Mary and Cambridge Universities.

Communicating through an engaging interactive exhibit at the opening of today’s Royal Society’s annual Summer Science Exhibition, the universities will show how it is now possible to see into the nuclear maelstrom in the core of the star, using sound. The technique is said to be similar that that of bats and dolphins that rely on sound to see the world around them, and the ultrasound technique used in hospitals to see unborn babies in the womb.

The great British Astrophysicist, Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, lamented over 80 years ago that there was no way to see inside the stars, to what he called the “most inaccessible regions of the universe.” Now, using sound waves that are trapped inside stars, astronomers have developed “asteroseismology” to let them see the interior of stars with sound. The Sun has millions of sound waves of different frequencies throbbing in its interior, so that astrophysicists now see the inside of the Sun in as much detail as a nurse can see the face of a foetus with ultrasound.

The “Songs of the Stars” exhibit, allows a hands-on exploration of the pulsations of the surface of the Sun through the six international telescopes from the Birmingham Solar Oscillation network (BiSON), and real stars can be heard. Asteroseismology has even discovered that certain stars are made out of diamond, giving new meaning to the nursery rhyme “Twinkle, twinkle, little star/ How I wonder what you are…” Astronomers no longer wonder what the stars are, but can now wonder at how amazing they are.

Leading the exhibit is UCLan’s Don Kurtz, Professor of Astrophysics, who said: “2500 years ago Pythagoras and his followers imagined a heavenly music coming from the planets and stars - the Music of the Spheres, a phrase that has reverberated down the millennia. In a way beyond the wildest imaginings of Pythagoras, we astronomers have now found sounds in the stars, and we use them to see into a previously hidden realm. Visitors to the exhibit will be able to hear for themselves the rhythmic drumming of a red giant star, the rumble of the Sun, and the warbling of a pulsating diamond star. They will even get to hear musical compositions where every member of the orchestra is a real (astronomical) star. ”

The scientists will be on hand at the exhibition which runs from 30 June to 4 July, to talk visitors and explain the significance of their research.

[size=3]Visitor information:[/size]

The event is FREE and open to the public.

The Royal Society can be found at 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG. Nearest tube stations are Piccadilly Circus or Charing Cross.

Exhibition opening details and times [url=http://http://seefurtherfestival.org/exhibition/view/songs-stars-real-music-spheres]here[/url].


Graham Southorn
 
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