This recording is of Ingenuity, the helicopter flying around up there on the planet Mars. NASA has isolated and enhanced the sound so we can hear it. It is sort of cool to hear, though if you have hearing issues the low pitch of the droning sound might mess with you.
I just watched the documentary “Sonic Sea”. This film, from 2017, tracks the impact of human noise on the sea and the various creatures who live there. If you ever wanted a really good reason to NEVER go on a cruise ship; OR if you are willing to buy less stuff that you don’t need, stuff that is shipped from across the oceans, then you should watch this. Navies, oil drilling, oil surveying, commercial shipping, commercial fishing – all generate an immense level of noise.
IF you have never thought about these issues before, then you should watch this. This film will anger you no end, and will leave you in tears about what we are doing to planet Earth.
It is not that noise directly affects trees, though I would not be surprised if that were the case. This article is about a study of pinyon trees in New Mexico. A good number of these wells have compressors running 24/7. They are very loud:
“Dominated by woodland plants, the area in the US south-west contains a high density of natural gas wells, some of which are coupled with compressors that run continuously and generate chronic noise at up to 100 decibels. That is as loud “as being next to the speakers at a Black Sabbath concert or standing right next to the train tracks as the train goes by”, said Dr Jenny Phillips, who was lead author of the study while at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo.”
It seems that the noise from the many natural gas wells has scared off scrub jays, which are essential in the ecosystem for distributing the seeds of pinyon pines. As the article notes, these jays are smart and have episodic memories, which means that they remember what places scared them and they don’t return. Hence these seeds are not being distributed.
I got David Owen’s book, “Volume Control” for my birthday. (Thanks to MJB for the gift.) I have been reading away, having a good time. It is well written, full of information about how we hear, about hearing loss, about hearing aids and many other topics. Mr. Owen writes for the New Yorker, and it shows here. Each chapter is like a New Yorker long article. Smart, accessible, with ‘science’ factoids, which you can skip over if you want to, with a new topic per chapter. (Mr. Owen has written many books, most of which look very interesting. Here is the link to his site.)
In the chapter on hearing aids, Owen reports on his visit to the headquarters of Starkey, one of the main designers and makers of hearing aids. During his visit, they tell him about their new phone app – Relax. It is designed to help cover tinnitus. I loaded it on my phone last night. I have to play with it more, but it has a range of optional sounds you can choose: fan, forests, camp fire, sea side, babbling brook, etc. (You can learn more about the app here. ) IF you use it, let me know what you think. (BTW – not to be seen as shilling for Starkey, there are other such apps for both iPhones and Androids. Just search under tinnitus.)
Even if you don’t have tinnitus (and many of us do!), the book is a good one. Let me know what you think if you read it.
Good old NASA. Now that they have their machine up on Mars, here is more news. They are developing a wing design for airplanes that will reduce noise. Always good to hear. (Even though the real solution to airplane noise is fewer airplanes and less flying.)
This is sort of like the old question about the tree falling in the forest. The answer is: yes, the falling tree does move the air as it falls, but if there are no ears nearby to process the sound waves, then there is no sound. (If we decide to be anthrocentric, and assume that if no human is present, there is nothing of significance which will hear it. Which is unlikely to be the case in a forest. So something hears it.)
NASA recently landed its newest rover thing, Perseverance, on Mars. If you have ever wondered if there was noise on Mars, you now have an answer – yes. No ears heard it, but it did get recorded. And now you can hear it.