Shostack + Friends Blog Archive


Audio Surveillance Can Be Cool, or a Hoax

[Update: Everyone says I’m being taken, in the comments.]

French archaeologists have taken pottery from ancient Pompeii and
played the grooves back like a record to get the sounds of the
pottery workshop, including laughter. Click “Telecharger la video” to
play the short video which contains a sample of the audio.

Audio from ancient Pompeii, via Mike Cheponis via Dave Farber’s IP list. Incidentally, if they can play back audio from ancient Pompeii, couldn’t Adobe get the audio and video in Flash to play synchronously on my Mac?

5 comments on "Audio Surveillance Can Be Cool, or a Hoax"

  • Chris Walsh says:

    It’s a hoax, last I read.
    Updated: These guys say hoax.

  • nick says:

    This one is a hoax, but it’s not as implausible as some claim. All it would take is for a few hundred molecules out trillions of trillions of molecules per square millimeter of surface to be displaced as the result of a particular sound, and then crystalize or dry into place, and the information about the sound would be there. Tools ranging from pottery trowels to paint brushes vibrate and even very low decibel sounds would likely displace more than a few hundred atoms. Crystals of glass, metal, and so on that vibrate as they cool will leave a unique pattern of crystallization. Even the mud underfoot as it dries (if it never got wet again but instead turned to rock) could store the nearby noises and conversations as it dried.
    Of course, the molecular and larger structural disruptions from other causes would usually dwarf the disruptions from small sounds. Nevertheless, the information is there. It’s a relatively straightforward but very arduous (and currently far too costly) task of picking apart the material molecule by molecule with a scanning tunneling microscope, or of do x-ray crystollography on a vast scale — in either case detailing the complete molecular structure of large fractions of a mole this way — and then running the mother of all noise filters and pattern recognizers on the resulting data. Someone may also find simpler ways to do this, but it’s a fairly straightforward exercise in theoretical applied science to realize that it’s something we will be able to do in the future.

  • dbs says:

    Wah. WHy does all the coolest stuff always turn out to be a hoax? Hmph.

  • beri says:

    This is as likely as the old superstition that if you were murdered, a “photo” of your murderer would be seen in the pupils of the victim.
    I thought computer people were smart!

  • hmmm says:

    not a complete hoax… under certain conditions sound is graven into the very roads under our feet and tires, concrete saws used to produce rain grooving can produce the same tone as the saw used to make them when played back by tires running over them at certain speeds, mechanical oscillator? or “recording of a concrete saw…” ? you tell me
    ps we are smart, simply too trusting, moi on the otherhand 🙂

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