Wanda Diaz Merced: How a blind astronomer found a way to hear the stars
Wanda Diaz Merced - Sonic astrophysicist
While searching for ways to study stellar radiation without relying on sight, Wanda Diaz Merced has developed a way to represent complex data about our universe as sound. Full bio
the mass of our sun
of her regular star days
and in the process
our sun will release in 10 days.
into another role in our galaxy.
are even more extreme.
under its own weight
their arms in close to their body.
and it increases, powerfully,
is dragged around,
is transferred to that matter
is increased even further.
to outshine the rest of the galaxy
is 1,000 trillion times
ever measured by astronomers
as bursts most or explosions,
that became a magnetar,
portion of the explosion.
are the strongest events
an itty bitty, tiny portion
that we call visible light.
we study a wider range of light
of light over time.
depend on this kind of plot
this light intensity changes over time.
the light intensity without a burst,
the light intensity with the burst.
I could also see this kind of plot.
because of extended illness,
the opportunity to see this plot
for me in many ways.
without a way to do my science.
this energetic light
the spacious wonder, the excitement,
of such a titanic celestial event.
that all a light curve is,
converted into a visual plot.
the numbers into sound.
at the level of the best astronomer,
that you're seeing on the screen
beyond the obvious burst.
converted into sound,
brought something to the ear
into the bass line now.
of electrically charged gasses
decrease in volume.
I'm giving you a red line
is being converted into sound.
don't pay attention to that.
in order to support wave resonances,
of energy between particles
that the matter around the star
and field distribution
about a super-massive star
magnetic field magnetar.
from the exploding star
with this gamma-ray burst.
may be a very important part
brought us to the notion
as an adjunctive visual display
information in the data.
measurements from other telescopes,
as an adjunctive visual display,
power of transformation.
that is so visual may be improved
in understanding what lies in the heavens
and quality of information
with the sonification process
to be a productive member of the field
is not the only area in astronomy
a disability at any point.
at the top of their careers.
if they develop a disability?
empowers us to flourish.
to display our talents
to do with our lives,
on potential barriers.
to succeed without limits,
and prospering life.
of sound in astronomy
and to contribute to science.
that the study of perception techniques
is not relevant to astronomy
astronomers in the field,
people with disabilities
techniques and analysis methods
of the Athlone School for the Blind.
the sonification methods
like huge ejections of energy
coronal mass ejections.
and coping strategies
will directly impact
at the professional level.
and with society.
scientific playing field,
and respect each other,
and discover together.
are allowed into the scientific field,
of knowledge will take place,
About the speaker:Wanda Diaz Merced - Sonic astrophysicist
While searching for ways to study stellar radiation without relying on sight, Wanda Diaz Merced has developed a way to represent complex data about our universe as sound.
Why you should listen
When Wanda Diaz Merced lost her sight in her early 20s, her dreams of studying stars in the visually oriented scientific world suffered a major setback -- until she discovered “sonification,” a way to turn huge data sets into audible sound using pitch, duration and other properties. Merced realized that she could use her ears to detect patterns in stellar radio data, and could uncover connections obscured by graphs and visual representation.
While working at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Merced’s sonifications inspired musician and researcher Gerhard Sonnert to create X-Ray Hydra, an album of oddly jazzy music based on her audio representations.
Wanda Diaz Merced | Speaker | TED.com