Sine-wave Speech

First developed by Robert Remez and Philip Rubin at Haskins Laboratory, Sine-wave speech is a form of artificially degraded speech. Much like the “aha” moment one gets when one listens to music backwards with a suggested lyric showing, the sine-wave speech is easily recognizable once the listener has been primed.

Listening to the sine-wave speech sound again produces a very different percept of a fully intelligible spoken sentence. This dramatic change in perception is an example of “perceptual insight” or pop-out. We have argued that this form of pop-out is an example of a top-down perceptual process produced by higher-level knowledge and expectations concerning sounds that can potentially be heard as speech.

I picked up on a few of the lines without checking first, and it got easier as I went along.

Try the examples yourself at Sine-wave speech.


education religion Science

Five must see open course video lectures

Since the introduction of open lectures by progressive thinking educational institutions like M.I.T., Stanford, Duke, Yale, and others, many exceptional presentations have bubbled to the top and should be watched.

Here are five must see open course video lectures as recommended by Virginia Heffernan of the NYTimes.

  1. Walter H. G. Lewin, Powers of 10, M.I.T. (At about 2:40 watch Power of Ten video that is cut from the lecture)
  2. Randy Pausch, Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams, Carnegie Mellon
  3. Dan Ariely, Predictably Irrational, Duke and M.I.T. (the rest of his short clips)
  4. Langdon Hammer, Modern Poetry, Yale
  5. Christine Hayes, Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible), Yale

I also recommend Mark Schlissel, Introduction – The Cell Theory, Bacteria, Animal Cells, Evolution (Viruses and Midochondria). (The good stuff starts at about 13:00).

I listened to about a quarter of all the lectures from this course—most of which were over my head, but the first and second (mp3) classes are fascinating and make me wish I studied biology at school.


MagLev Toy Train

A crash course on the amazing properties of super-conductors, the following video demonstrates what may be the future of transportation.

[MagLev Toy Train – Liveleak]

Popular Science published an article five years ago on the possibility of a trans-Atlantic maglev train that would travel in an airless underwater tunnel at 4,000 MPH and make the trip from New York to London in an hour.

A 4,000-mph magnetically levitated train could allow you to have lunch in Manhattan and still get to London in time for the theater, despite the 5-hour time difference. It’s not impossible: Norway has studied neutrally buoyant tunnels (concluding that they’re feasible, though expensive), and Shanghai is running maglev trains to its airport. But supersonic speeds require another critical step: eliminating the air — and therefore air friction — from the train’s path. A vacuum would also save the tunnel from the destructive effects of a sonic boom, which, unchecked, could potentially rip the tunnel apart.

(Via Waxy)

magic psychology

Quirkology – The Missing Piece

See if you can figure out how psychology professor Richard Wiseman creates space for the missing piece. I have to admit, even though I’ve seen tricks like this before, it took me 3 or 4 times through to figure it out completely.

[The Missing Piece – YouTube]


DNA Folding

Paul Rothemund will send chills down your spine as he explains the astonishing potential of DNA folding in this great TED talk from September 2007.

Hit play or watch Paul Rothemund: The astonishing promise of DNA folding. See also—Paul’s other talk on DNA folding, Paul Rothemund casts a spell with DNA.

Art Science

Paintball Painting

The Mythbusters, Adam and Jamie, demonstrate the difference between serial and parallel processing with a little live art demonstration.

[Adam & Jamie draw a MONA LISA in 80 milliseconds! – YouTube]

games physics

Fantastic Contraption

Warning: The following link leads to an extremely addicting flash game. Luckily there are only 20 levels and then you can go to sleep. At least, that’s what I did.

Fantastic Contraption.


Astro-09 High Altitude Photos

Balloon and payloads just after launchThe following photos are from a set taken with a Pentax k10d from a high-altitude sounding balloon during an experiment conducted by Oklahoma State University while testing a new cosmic radiation detector.

According to the original poster, the k10d performed flawlessly in the harsh vacuum of space at temperatures below -60F.

Balloon and payloads just after launchPentax k10d in impact protection box prior to flight104,000 feet above earth

“The payloads are attached to a sounding balloon which climbs to over 100,000 ft. The balloon is tracked with GPS telemetry systems. When the balloon is launched, it is about 12 ft. in diameter. At peak altitude it is between 40-50 ft. in diameter before burst (or commanded cut-down).”



What will the LHC find?

Check out Cosmic Variance’s list of possible discoveries and the probability of each discovery being made in the next five years at the Large Hadron Collider.

Also, be sure to check out The Big Picture photos of the LHC.

backmasking psychology

Teaching of Psychology

Tom Stafford, a member of the Adaptive Behaviour Research Group in the Department of Psychology at University of Sheffield, recently presented the keynote speech at the annual conference of the Association for the Teaching of Psychology at Lincoln in the UK. He talked a little bit about the priming that can occur when you load up my backmasking site. He was kind to present the topic using this slide.

Thanks Tom! you made my day.

Research Digest wrote up an interesting summary of Tom’s keynote talk.