Natural Soundscapes May Become ‘Digital Fossils’
Sounds are integral to Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden,” the book about two years he spent living in a cabin in the woods near Walden Pond in Massachusetts in 1846-47 — the wind blowing through the rushes, the rumbling of the ice melting in the spring, owls screeching in the night.
Oh, and the whistle of the steam engines from passing trains and church bells ringing in Concord on Sundays, miles away. Thoreau went to Walden to live simply amid nature. The sounds of humanity followed him. Now, there is hardly a spot on the planet where our noise doesn’t mix with (or intrude on, from another perspective) the sounds of the natural world, says Purdue Univ. Prof. Bryan Pijanowski.
Eventually, the only way people may be able to hear nature on its own terms is through an artificial digital world, much like “Star Trek,” says Pijanowski, an ecologist leading a Purdue-centered international effort to collect a digital archive of high-resolution video — and especially sound — from signature natural areas around the world.
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