The art of coffee stains

The shape of a song

The music of the spheres

I was checking out the excellent MemeFirst blog, where Stefan had posted a gorgeous color picture of Saturn’s rings, taken by NASA’s Cassini space probe. I totally agreed with Stefan’s writeup (“Best. Wallpaper. Ever.”) but when looked at the picture, I was suddenly reminded of Coagula, a cool little application that transforms the data from pictures into sound effects. I blogged about this a while ago, when I used Coagula to transform a picture of my face into music. So I thought, hmmm, I wonder what sound you’d get out of that picture of the rings?

Voila: I booted up Coagula, ran the picture through, and produced this little MP3 file — the music of the spheres. Fittingly for an image produced in deepest space, it sounds kind of like a Dalek firing on helpless earthlings. Exterminate! Ex-ter-minate!

Man, I should get back to work. I can just imagine one of my editors calling me to find out the status of their overdue copy. “Oh, sorry — I’ve been busy generating sound effects from photos of Saturn’s rings.” Dead silence.

(Thanks to MemeFirst for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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