We’ve all been wowed by the recent news and promise of 3D modeling of an LP from an MP3 file and equally blown away by the stunning re-assemblage of the earliest known recordings from Edison’s original TINFOIL experiments, and the first known recording pre-Edison via the Phonautograph created in 1860 by moving a stylus in soot-covered paper, as well as a recording recovered from a crisp photograph of a record.
But an article I just read in the January 2013 issue of Smithsonian Magazine has them all beat: scientists have discovered a fossilized archaic Katydid that is some 165 MILLION years old and, using computers, have recreated the chirp of this Jurassic cricket.
Here is how they did it:
“Studying the shape and size of the wings—including the spacing of the rasplike teeth along the wing edge—and comparing those structures with those of modern katydids, Montealegre-Zapata programmed a computer to produce the most likely sound that the four-inch-long insect could have made. The result, a landmark in paleoacoustics, is the most ancient call ever recreated.”
“They” say you should learn something new every day and today I did — the term paleoacoustics! Who knew there was a term for it? And I’m kinda into this stuff! If you’re interested, you should click here and read the entire article. And also be sure to click on the links above to learn about the process of recreating the recordings lost to the ages from unlikeliest of sources.
Of course, according to an MSNBC article I happened upon while writing this up: “the earliest indirect recording of any sound ever is probably to be found in the very structure of our universe, which betrays the effects of propagating sound waves present just after the universe’s inception.”