Acoustical Society of America
138th Meeting Press Release



SUB-SAHARAN AFRICAN MUSIC,
VISIBLY STRESSED E. COLI,
AND THE SOUNDS OF MARS
AT UPCOMING ACOUSTICS MEETING

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Melville, New York, October 7, 1999

How will a vibrating machine sound on Mars? What subtle characteristics of African music distinguish it from other forms? What is the explanation for the "sound of growing corn" that farmers always hear?

These and other questions will be addressed at the 138th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), which will be held at the Hyatt Regency Columbus Hotel from November 1-5, 1999 in Columbus, Ohio. The ASA is the largest scientific organization in the United States devoted to acoustics, with nearly 7000 members. This is the second major ASA meeting of the year--the last one was held in Berlin last March as a joint meeting with two European acoustics societies.

PRESS LUNCHEON AT COLUMBUS MEETING


On Tuesday, November 2 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., ASA will hold a press luncheon featuring speakers on numerous topics that will be presented at the Columbus meeting. The luncheon will take place in the Franklin C room of the Hyatt Regency Columbus. Confirmed speakers include Joie Jones, UC-Irvine (ultrasound diagnosis of burns) and R. Daniel Costley, University of Mississippi (acoustical technique for inspecting sealed drums at waste sites); others will be announced shortly. Reporters interested in attending the luncheon should return the reply form at the end of this release or contact Ben Stein (301-209-3091, bstein@aip.org).

WORLD WIDE PRESS ROOM

We encourage you to visit ASA's "World Wide Press Room" (http://www.acoustics.org) before and during the meeting. Starting the week of October 25 the site will contain lay-language versions of selected papers at the Columbus meeting. In addition, the Press Room contains a large archive of press releases and lay language papers describing numerous acoustics topics from previous meetings.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS

Here are some highlights from among the many papers being given at the Columbus meeting. Full abstracts of the papers mentioned below can be viewed by typing in the last name of the author or the appropriate paper code at the ASA Meeting Abstracts database: http://asa.aip.org/asasearch.html

Acoustics on the Planet Mars: A Preview
Ultrasound Diagnosis of Burns, Breast Cancer and Atherosclerosis
Sounding Out the Contents of Sealed Chemical Drums
Preserving Quiet in National Parks
Unique Properties of African Music
Archaeological Acoustics
Sensing Aircraft Ice with "Love Waves"
Music for Unique Environments
Visibly Stressed E. Coli
Acoustics in the 20th Century and Beyond
The Sound of Corn Growing
Reconstructing Vehicle and Engine Information from Formula 1 Sounds

Acoustics on the Planet Mars: A Preview

The Mars Polar Lander, which is scheduled to land on the Red Planet in December, will transmit the first-ever recorded sounds from the Fourth Planet back to Earth. Researchers hope that the lander's microphone, built at UC-Berkeley (http://plasma2.ssl.berkeley.edu/marsmic/), will pick up unique environmental sounds from the planet and capture noises made by the lander itself. Victor Sparrow of Penn State University (sparrow@helmholtz.acs.psu.edu) will present what little is known about the acoustical environment of Mars. Although sound speeds on Earth (343 meters per second) and Mars (228 m/s) are comparable, Mars has a much thinner atmosphere. As a result, according to Sparrow, "a machine vibrating on Mars will radiate sound at a level approximately 20 decibels lower than on Earth." Additional comparisons will be presented. (Paper 4pPA4)

Ultrasound Diagnosis of Burns, Breast Cancer and Atherosclerosis

Recent advances in ultrasound are promising to improve medical diagnosis on a number of fronts. Michael P. Andre of UC-San Diego (mandre@ucsd.edu) will report on new ultrasound-based breast imaging techniques that can provide better detection of microcalcifications--calcium-based particles that often indicate the presence of cancer--without the use of x-rays or compression (2aBB2). Joie P. Jones of UC-Irvine (jpjones@uci.edu) will discuss an ultrasound method for evaluating the depth and severity of burns. According to Jones, this technique--which does not require contact with the skin--can provide, for the first time, "a quantitative and noninvasive method for burn evaluation and treatment specification" (2aBB4). Christy Holland and colleagues at the University of Cincinnati (Christy.Holland@uc.edu) will present an ultrasound technique for diagnosing narrowing of arteries by detecting turbulence in blood flow. Such a technique could potentially provide early detection of atherosclerosis (2aBB10).

Sounding Out the Contents of Sealed Chemical Drums

Inside the 55-gallon sealed drums at many nuclear and chemical waste sites, gases may build up to dangerously high levels as the result of processes such as radiolysis, in which radioactive emissions break down chemicals inside the drum. In efforts to increase the safety of workers at these facilities, R. Daniel Costley of the University of Mississippi (dcostley@mil-tec.com) will describe a noninvasive acoustical technique for detecting dangerously high pressures in such drums. He and a colleague have discovered that the natural frequencies of vibration of a tapped drum lid increase as the pressure inside the drum increases (2pEA4). Dipen Sinha of Los Alamos (sinha@lanl.gov) will describe several noninvasive techniques for characterizing the fluid contents inside sealed containers which might be too dangerous to be opened (3aPA2).

Preserving Quiet in National Parks

Protecting U.S. nature areas for millions of visitors every year, the Natural Park Service has found itself confronting an increasing form of pollution: noise. Wesley Henry of the National Park Service (wes_henry@nps.gov) will explain how NPS is responding to this issue (3aNS1). Making outdoor recordings for 30 years, Bernie Krause of Wild Sanctuary, Inc. (chirp@wildsanctuary.com) has documented what he calls "the loss of natural soundscapes within the U.S. and the other countries of the Americas." Krause will present audio examples to demonstrate his points (3aNS2). Kenneth Plotkin of Wyle Labs (kplotkin@arl.wylelabs.com) will discuss growing concerns over aircraft noise in national parks (3aNS5). Micah Downing of Wyle Labs will describe noise management plans being developed for national parks in South Florida, such as Everglades National Park (3aNS4).

Unique Properties of African Music

African music has many distinctive characteristics that go beyond the obvious. David Avorgbedor and James Pyne (Pyne.1@osu.edu) of Ohio State will discuss the manipulation and intentional modification of certain sounds which occur in numerous musical traditions in sub-Saharan Africa (2pMU1). Doris Green of the Pan African Performing Arts Preservation Association in Uniondale, New York (papapa70@aol.com) has designed a notation system for the percussion instruments of Africa, since conventional music notation is often insufficient to indicate the nuances and actions that occur in music made with these instruments. Called "Greenotation," her system can even represent dance movements integral to many sub-Saharan African drum and dance traditions (2pMU2). Ted McDaniel of Ohio State (McDaniel.2@osu.edu) will describe how sub-Saharan Africa musical traditions, such as collective improvisation, have found their way into jazz music (2pMU3). Ohio State's Jan McCrary (McCrary.5@osu.edu) will examine the impact of African music traditions on the development of gospel and spiritual music in America (2pMU4). The Ohio State University jazz division will perform musical examples to illustrate McDaniel's and McCrary's points.

Archaeological Acoustics

Scientists are coming to the realization that sound--ephemeral as it may seem--can provide unique clues about ancient cultures. In an emerging field called "archaeological acoustics" (sessions 4aAA and 4pAA), researchers studying soundscapes near ice age cave paintings, around Native American rock art sites and around reconstructed ancient temples are finding tantalizing clues about the cultures themselves. Steven Waller of the American Rock Art Research Association argues that prehistoric rock art--including Native American petroglyphs and Ice Age deep cave paintings--may have been deliberately placed in locations where they could produce echoes that resembled the sounds of spirits and other elements of ancient legends (4aAA4). Acoustical consultant Dave Lubman (dlubman@ix.netcom.com) will report that ancient Mayan builders may have mastered the acoustical design tricks needed to enable their kings and priests to address large crowds from the tops of their temples (4aAA5). Tom Rossing of Northern Illinois University (rossing@physics.niu.edu) will describe how new studies of ancient Chinese bells provide much knowledge of the musical culture of bronze-age China (4pAA1). D. Murray Campbell of the University of Edinburgh (D.M.Campbell@ed.ac.uk) has helped to reconstruct a long-lost Celtic instrument known as a carnyx. Some scholars speculate that the Celts may have used the loud and surprising sounds of the carnyx approximately 2,000 years ago in attempts to scare off hostile Roman troops (4pAA3).

Sensing Aircraft Ice with "Love Waves"

Vasundara V. Varadan (vvvesm@engr.psu.edu) and colleagues at Penn State have come up with a new device for detecting the freezing of water on surfaces. The device generates Love waves, disturbances that cause surfaces to oscillate perpendicularly to the direction of the waves. The researchers discovered that the waves get absorbed by ice but not liquid water. The researchers have proposed a wireless version of the device which could conceivably be used for aircraft and helicopters. (4pSA9)

Music for Unique Environments

Most live musical recordings attempt to transport listeners to the environment of a musical performance, whether it is Carnegie Hall or Giants Stadium. But now, researchers have attempted to do the reverse: record and play back music so that it can tailor itself to the unique environment of a listener, whether it is a bedroom or living room. William Hartmann and Zachary Constan of Michigan State University (hartmann@pa.msu.edu) will present their "local performance recording and reproduction technique" (LPR/R). Among other things, the instruments in a LPR/R recording contain a minimum of reflected sound from the room in which they were recorded. The researchers have found this technique particularly effective for music played by small ensembles; they will demonstrate an application of the technique to a Mozart string quartet. (2pAA4)

Visibly Stressed E. Coli

Ann Willman and her colleagues at Swarthmore (awillma1@swarthmore.edu) have genetically engineered e. coli bacteria to emit visible light when damaged or subjected to mechanical stress which occurs, for instance, when they are exposed to ultrasound waves in water. Different forms of stress such as protein damage and disturbances in their cell membrane cause different amounts of light to be emitted. In addition to understanding how ultrasound-induced bubbles can damage these bacteria, these studies may suggest the properties of an ultrasound field most effective for acoustically purifying water. (3aBB7)

Acoustics in the 20th Century and Beyond

Reviewing the developments which led to an explosion of knowledge in acoustics during this century, Malcolm J. Crocker of Auburn University (mcrocker@eng.auburn.edu) will also describe the state-of-the-art in various fields such as speech recognition, medical ultrasound, and thermoacoustic refrigerators, devices that chill objects by using sound waves and inert gases instead of mechanical parts and chemically reactive fluids. He will also project future developments in these and other areas of acoustics. (4pID1) Gabriel Weinreich of the University of Michigan (weinreic@umich.edu) will describe how 20th- century technology and experimental tools transformed the discipline of musical acoustics. "Unlike the situation in other fields," he writes, "modern electronic methods not only made the physics of musical instruments more accessible, they themselves invaded their subject matter in the form of electronic music, giving rise to a totally new kind of symbiotic relationship" (2aMUb1).

The Sound of Corn Growing

Farming legends suggest that one can hear corn growing, especially at night, with distinctive popping sounds. These popping sounds actually do occur, but David G. Browning of the University of Rhode Island attributes them to something different than suggested by legend: puffs of wind during otherwise calm conditions cause adjacent leaves to strike each other, producing in many cases a distinctive spectrum of sounds. The sound spectrum changes as the corn matures (the increased weight of the corn ears causes the stalks to sway more pronouncedly) and as it loses moisture (the leaves become more brittle). Browning says that the "sound of corn growing" can therefore be transformed from a fanciful legend into a practical tool for monitoring the condition of crops. (2aPA6)

Reconstructing Vehicle and Engine Information from Formula 1 Sounds

Analyzing roadside sounds of Formula 1 vehicles during the 1998 Grand Prix of San Marino, Giorgio Rizzoni (rizzoni.1@osu.edu) of Ohio State and his colleagues have demonstrated a method for extracting important information on engine performance, vehicle properties, and even driving strategy. With their method, they can acquire data on such things as top engine speed, shifting strategy, and aerodynamic behavior of the vehicle. (2aSP5, 4pSPa3)

REPLY FORM

Please return the REPLY FORM if you are interested in attending the meeting or receiving a meeting program.

REPORTER'S REPLY FORM

Return to 138th Meeting Archive Return to ASA World Wide Press Room