Enter the maze

Scale back (page)

by Peter W McOwan, Queen Mary University of London

Piano keys : copyright www.istockphoto.com 88824395

Sounds, musical notes and scales are all around us. Here we take a quick tinkle up the scale with some fascinating facts about sounds that sort of sound like they are worthy of note. As the song (almost) goes, they will finally... bring us back to dough.

Doh: the catchphrase of cartoon character Homer Simpson, voiced by actor Dan Castellaneta. Using motion capture and graphics techniques one show featured a live 3 min interview with Homer responding to tweets sent in and current events.

Note sounds animated

Ray: acoustic weapons that focus sound into a beam, or ray, using high intensity ultrasound at frequencies from 700 kHz to 3.6 MHz can cause lung and intestinal damage in mice

Note sounds dangerous

Me: the abdominal sounds I make after eating are caused by the muscles in the gastrointestinal tract contracting, and so squeezing and mixing food to allow it to pass through the gut to be digested. These sounds can be analysed by computer to help uncover digestive problems

Note sounds healthy

F.A.: football associations world-wide realise that getting a good crowd roar in the stadium enhances the spectators' appreciation of the game. Stadiums are often computer designed to reflect the sound back into the field, or microphones are used to pick up the sounds that are then played back on speakers.

Note sound like a gooooooalllllllll

Sew: rather than sewing trainers with needle and thread, computer controlled high-frequency ultrasonic vibrations are used. The sound bonds the pieces of the shoe together, even if they are different materials, to produce a strong sturdy weld.

Note sounds racy

Bread dough : copyright www.istockphoto.com 68275501

L.A.: The film industry is based in Hollywood, Los Angeles. Why? Because early film-makers got fed up of being sued by, prolific inventor Thomas Edison's film patent company, which held most film patents of the time. L.A. was beyond the reach of the lawyers. Edison, of course, also invented the phonograph for sound recording.

Note sounds litigious

T: the T Rex, or to give it its full name, Tyrannosaurus Rex, is the most famous type of dinosaur. Scientists are using supercomputers to recreate the sounds dinosaur made by looking at the shape of fossil skulls and calculating their acoustic properties.

Note sounds scary

Dough: using ultrasonic sound and a computer model, bakers can now accurately calculate the composition of bread dough as it ferments, allowing them to use it when it's just at the right consistency.

Note sounds tasty