Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Virtual Barber Shop

What with getting ready for the Richard Peck workshop this weekend (which I think will be awesome, and I'll blog about it when it's over), raising money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society through their Team in Training program (click here if you're interested in contributing to a great cause and helping me meet my fundraising goal), and working on revisions and getting photo permissions for the Volcano Scientists book, I haven't had much time to blog. But I just had to give you a heads-up for one of the coolest auditory illusions I've ever heard: The Virtual Barbershop.

Listening to it, you feel as though you are in a barber's chair, with the barber moving around you, clipping away at your hair. The illusion demonstrates our ability to locate sounds in space; by comparing the inputs to the two ears, we can work out where a sound is coming from. You'll need to listen with headphones:

Aren't you glad it wasn't the virtual dentist?

I discovered this and four other auditory illusions on The New Scientist's web exclusive, part of their special music issue. I've been interested in auditory illusions for years, since I went to a talk by Diana Deutsch, who studies the perception and memory for sounds and has discovered a number of musical illusions and paradoxes. I think that this kind of stuff would make for a great kids' book--but it would have to be accompanied by a CD. I wonder if anybody would be interested. Hmmm.

Now playing: Sam Moore with Wynonna, BeBe Winans & Billy Preston - I Can't Stand the Rain
via FoxyTunes

1 comment:

Sminthia said...

Very cool idea. You could also have a website with downloads of new examples as you acquire them. I can see kids sitting in class with their ipods on and their eyes closed, pretending they're someplace else, like the skateboard park.

Come to think of it, I could use something like that. Take a break from the computer by going to the seashore. Or walking through the woods.

I had a boss once who used stereo microphones on a trip to Costa Rica. I listened to the tape when he got back. The howler monkeys were incredible!

Got the socks, BTW. Thanks!