Karen Bakker at Noema:
For millennia, the movements of the celestial bodies in the heavens above, from shining planets to the faintest of stars, have provided practical guidance to navigators and spiritual direction to oracles. But some signals created by the stars are invisible to the naked human eye.
Astrophysicists have developed techniques to convert data from light signals into digital audio, using pitch, duration and other properties of sound. Wanda Díaz-Merced, a blind astronomer, sonifies plasma patterns in the upper reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere and invented new methods to detect subtle signals in the presence of visual noise. But the conversion of data into acoustic signals — called sonification — is now being used by scientists who are not vision-impaired because listening to the stars helps detect patterns that may be missed by visual representations.