Very useful tips for social media maniacs like me! 😉
Mese: aprile 2014
[Repost] Social Media Has Ruined Grammar (And Other Elementary School Skills You No Longer Need) (by Andrea Greb)
7/20/2013 02:07 PM
Social Media Has Ruined Grammar (And Other Elementary School Skills You No Longer Need)
So in news that makes me embarrassed to be both an English speaker and a Twitter user, adorable Brazilian schoolchildren are correcting the grammar in celebrity tweets as a way of improving their own English skills. Also, they’re ridiculously polite when they do this. Celebrities, please take note and learn both grammar and manners.
While this is an awesome exercise in both learning about punctuation and proofreading for these students, it also raises some questions – if you can be a multimillionaire with no demonstrated command of the English language, are there other skills we’re being taught in elementary school that have been rendered obsolete by the digital age?
So I’m going to date myself by saying this (I’m old, guys), but in my youth, word processing software didn’t have spellcheck. If you didn’t know how to spell a word, you had to look it up in the dictionary, which is this giant book (a predecessor to dictionary.com) that listed all of the words. I have gleaned from my friends who are teachers that spelling tests are still a thing, and I know spelling bees are alive and well, but there’s something about the fact that kids can just spellcheck their papers now instead of having to proofread for actual typos. How long before they’re just dictating their essays to Siri?
On the subject of writing, how relevant is penmanship anymore? I have fond memories of that paper that had lines like a traffic light so you knew where to start and end your letters, and less fond memories of the hand cramps that followed writing an entire essay test in cursive. I was relieved to learn that apparently most students are still learning cursive, presumably mostly so that they can establish a signature that will devolve into an illegible scrawl. When more and more of our communication is just taking place on a screen and not even on paper, should we be learning cursive at all, or would time spent learning that be better used catching our math and science skills up to the rest of the world?
Then again, who needs math skills when we’re all carrying around phones that function perfectly well as calculators? I recently learned that a friend who’s my age (an age I promise isn’t 50) used to take an actual abacus to school. I was actually impressed, and a little jealous that he knows how to use an abacus. I can barely remember where my calculator is, and heaven help me if I ever have to actually use it. 97% of the math I do is done in Excel, and the other 3% is calculating tips, which I do in my head, but I’m pretty sure there’s an app for that.
I have a friend who actually cannot tell time using a regular clock – she had the chicken pox when it was covered in school, cheated on the test, and subsequently never learned. It seems like most clocks are digital these days; is there really value anymore in learning all this hour hand and minute hand nonsense? Do people even wear watches to tell time anymore, or do kids just think they’re fun fashion accessories with numbers on them?
One of the most important lessons of elementary school was learning how to interact with other kids – not fighting over toys, forming friendships based on your shared love of Anastasia Krupnik books, realizing that boys have cooties. Here’s the thing, though. Talking to other kids is hard, and scary. So we can just skip that bit and be friends with people on the internet, based on some selfies and perceived shared interests.
Basically, what I’m suggesting is that we overhaul our whole elementary education system and focus on the skills these kids are going to need to be successful: Instagram, Tumblr, and a willingness to humiliate themselves on reality television in exchange for money. (Relax, Millenial-fearers, I’m kidding). The point of technology isn’t to avoid using our brains, it’s just a shortcut to be used after we’ve learned the real skills behind it, so we can spend our time doing really important things like protesting t-shirts that are maybe mean to Taylor Swift. That said, I do remember when things like “computers” and “typing” were elective classes, and not essential skills required to succeed, so I am curious to see what elementary school will look like by the time I have kids.
Featured image via
Cf. original: http://hellogiggles.com/social-media-has-ruined-grammar-and-other-elementary-school-skills-you-no-longer-need
[Repost] Of Cabbages and Kings: five ways to talk about translation (on Oxford Dictionaries)
Of Cabbages and Kings: five ways to talk about translation
Translation has been a crucial part of Anglophone culture from its very beginnings. The earliest English writers knew that the state of learning in England, with knowledge of Latin far from universal, meant a need for translations. Everything necessary for a rounded education was written in Latin, and so King Alfred the Great introduced a programme of translating “certain books, which are most needful for all men to know, into that language that we all can understand”. Alfred’s list of necessary books was very specific, and encompassed classics of theology and philosophy, rather than the Greek and Roman classics which were to torture school boys nearly a millennium later. These poor beleaguered boys, struggling with their Homer and Virgil, would often use a crib, a translation that provided them with illegitimate help in their studies. This might also be called a cabbage in the school slang of the nineteenth century; nobody’s sure where the term comes from, though it might be that the strips of paper looked like strips of cloth which tailors rolled up into shapes resembling cabbages (etymologies can be a bit labyrinthine at times!).
Like most linguistic concepts, translation has been described using a wide range of words. Here are some notes on five of my favourites.
Let’s start with the basics! The verb translate goes back to at least the early thirteen hundreds, when the author of the religious poem Cursor Mundi tells his readers that:
Þis ilk bok es translate into Inglis tong
to rede for the love of Inglis lede,
(This book is translated into the English language as advice, for the love of the English people.)
Translation was an important art in the medieval period, perhaps even more so than in King Alfred’s day, since the people of England now had to deal with both Latin and Norman French as commonly-used languages as well as the English vernacular. The verb comes from the Latin translatus, the past participle of transferre, meaning “to transfer”, hence the use of translate to refer to physical transferral. It‘s often used to describe the moving of a saint’s remains to a new resting place.
The mythic first poem in English, Caedmon’s Hymn, was a paraphrase. Legend has it that Caedmon, a simple cowherd in the monastery at Whitby, was visited by an angel who inspired him to compose poems on scriptural themes. The Latin scripture would be read to him, and he would produce beautiful paraphrases in the intricate Old English verse form. The verbparaphrase, however, comes a long time after Caedmon: the Oxford English Dictionary’s first evidence is from 1593 (the noun is attested a little earlier). It comes, via French and Latin, from a Greek root: para (“alongside”) and phrasis (“diction, speech”). So, whereas to translate is to transfer from one language to the other, to paraphrase is to speak in the new language alongside the original.
The delightful verb Englify was first used, according to the OED’s evidence, in 1688, when the writer Randle Holme referred to “a Welsh name Englified”. It is one of a set of words describing translation into English. Englishizeappears around a hundred years later, not long after anglicize was first used in this sense (in 1711 according to current research), whereas the simple verb English is the earliest of the trio, first appearing in the Wycliffite translation of the Bible in the 1400s: “I Englishe it thus”, the translator tells us. Other language names have been used in the same way: in 1868, Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote that “We clothe the nude word by Frenching it”, andFrenchize has also been used for translation into French.
Coming from the Latin traducere, meaning “to bring across” or “to transfer”,traduce was used to mean “translate” from at least the fifteen hundreds, and was still in use when Charles Kingsley wrote his novel Alton Locke in 1850: the title character will be allowed no more books to read “If ye canna traduce to me a page o’ Virgil”, so the Scotsman Sandy Mackaye threatens him. The verb is related to words for “translation” in a number of Romance languages: French traduction and Italian traduzzione, for example. The more common sense of traduce now is to slander or disgrace a person. It seems a bit of a leap from “transfer” to “slander”, but the classical Latin traducere could also mean “to lead along (as a spectacle)”, as one might do to a criminal, and in later Latin it carried the sense “to lead astray”, “to corrupt”, and “to blame”. It’s a verb of many talents, and it seems quite fitting that a word for translation should itself have such a variety of possible translations.
This is my favourite translation verb, and the oldest of our five. Indeed, this meaning of the word seems to have died out in the twelve hundreds, remembered now only by students of Old English who read King Alfred’s accounts of his efforts at translation: “Ða ongan ic..ða boc wendan on Englisc”; “Then I began to translate that book into English”. The range of meanings that wend had even in those days tells us something about how the Anglo-Saxons thought about translation. It could mean altering your course, changing your mind, travelling, or taking the final journey of death. Translation was a slippery thing, and it could fatally change the meaning of the original text unless great care was taken by a skilful translator.
These are just a few of the many verbs that are or have been used for translation; there was no space to talk about convert, render, interpret, orthrow, to name just a few. Dub also lost out in my list of five, though it has the neatest etymology, being a simple shortening of the word double. So there is still plenty to explore in the world of translation; but, for now, I shall wend my way.
Cf. original: http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2013/10/five-ways-to-talk-about-translation/#.U117FOTRzCU.twitter (previously shared by TransGALAtor)
[Repost] Multilinguals Have Multiple Personalities (by Alice Robb)
LANGUAGE – APRIL 23, 2014
Multilinguals Have Multiple Personalities
In an essay published on Monday, New Republic Senior Editor Noam Scheiber—who grew up speaking both Hebrew and English—explains why he stopped speaking only Hebrew to his three-year-old daughter. “My Hebrew self turns out to be much colder, more earnest, and, let’s face it, less articulate,” he writes. “In English, my natural sensibility is patient and understated. My style in Hebrew was hectoring and prosecutorial.”
I understand the feeling. My not-so-fluent French “self” is most comfortable talking about classroom supplies. It’s surprising, though, that people who are actually fluent in two languages also feel their personality shifting as they switch between languages. Yet researchers have confirmed this: Between 2001 and 2003, linguists Jean-Marc Dewaele and Aneta Pavlenko asked over a thousand bilinguals whether they “feel like a different person” when they speak different langauges. Nearly two-thirds said they did.
How does that play out in day-to-day speech? In 1964, Susan Ervin, a sociolinguist at the University of California, Berkeley, set out to explore the differences in how bilinguals represent the same stories in different languages. She recruited 64 French adults who lived in the U.S. and were fluent in both French and English. On average, they had spent 12 years living in the U.S.; 40 were married to an American. On two separate occasions, six weeks apart, Ervin gave them the “Thematic Apperception Test”: She showed her subjects a series of illustrations and asked them to make up a three-minute story to accompany each scene. In one session, the volunteer and experimenter spoke only French, while the other session was conducted entirely in English.
Ervin then analyzed the stories, looking at the different themes incorporated into the narratives. When she compared the two sets of stories, she identified some significant topical differences. The English stories more often featured female achievement, physical aggression, verbal aggression toward parents, and attempts to escape blame, while the French stories were more likely to include domination by elders, guilt, and verbal aggression toward peers.
In 1968, Ervin—by this point, “Ervin-Tripp”—designed another experiment to further explore her hypothesis that the content of bilinguals’ speech would change along with the language. This time, Ervin-Tripp looked at Japanese women living in the San Francisco area, most of whom were married to American men and many of whom had American children. Most of the women were largely isolated from other Japanese in America, and spoke Japanese only while visiting Japan or talking to their bilingual friends. Ervin-Tripp had a bilingual interviewer give the women various verbal tasks in both Japanese and in English, and found—as she expected—important differences.
For instance, when the women were asked to complete the following sentences, their answers differed depending on the language in which the questions was asked:
Scholars have also used more qualitative methods to try to understand language’s impact on personality. In 1998, Michele Koven, a researcher at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, spent a year and a half carrying out ethnographic research with bilingual Parisian adults whose parents had immigrated from Portugal. All of her subjects were fluent in both French and Portuguese, and most maintained close ties to Portugal while living in France; many planned on returning eventually, though most also had monolingual French friends. Koven focused specifically on how her subjects represented themselves in narratives of personal experience, which she elicited by asking them to recount various life events in both languages. When Koven transcribed and analyzed the content of their accounts, she saw that her subjects emphasized different traits in their characters, depending on which language they were speaking. For instance, the women in the French stories were more likely to stand up for themselves, whereas the female characters in the Portuguese narratives tended to cede to others’ demands. And their own personas changed, too. One girl, Koven writes, sounded like “an angry, hip suburbanite” when she spoke French, and a “frustrated, but patient, well-mannered bank customer who does not want attention drawn to the fact that she is an émigré” when she spoke Portuguese. Whether that’s due to the different context in which she learned French and Portuguese, an inherent difference between the two languages, or some combination, researchers have yet to figure out.
Image via Shutterstock
posted in: the plank, culture, language, bilingualism, linguistics
[Repost] Rutherford: «El traductor es un traedor de tesoros de otras tierras» (por M. F. Antuña)
Rutherford: «El traductor es un traedor de tesoros de otras tierras»
El hispanista británico rompe con los estereotipos de la traducción en su discurso de investidura como honoris causa24.04.14 – 00:11 – M. F. ANTUÑA | OVIEDO.Cfr. original: http://bit.ly/1ro8wFR
Traducir es un arte. El suyo, el del hispanista británico John Rutherford que ayer confesó que aprendió a escribir en inglés gracias a las castellanas palabras que Leopoldo Alas ‘Clarín’ dejó escritas en ‘La Regenta’, que reinvidicó el papel de la traducción más allá de la mera transcripción de palabras para elevarla a la categoría de aventura apasionante y creación mayúscula. Lo hizo ante una auditorio académico que fue testigo de cómo el filófogo que puso palabras inglesas a ‘La Regenta’ y ‘El Quijote’ recibía el birrete, el libro de la ciencia y la sabiduría, el anillo y los guantes blancos que le convierten en doctor honoris causa por la Universidad de Oviedo.
La protocolaria ceremonia celebrada en el edificio histórico de la Universidad fue una loa a la literatura en el Día del Libro, pero, por encima de todo, se convirtió en un alegato en favor de quienes son capaces de darle forma a las palabras de otro en un idioma diferente. Y de eso Rutherford, que ahora anda embarcado en ponerle lustre british a los sonetos de Garcilaso, Góngora y Quevedo, sabe mucho. Buceó el inglés en sus inicios en la traducción y sus complejas formas de la mano de ‘Clarín’ y quiso romper con la «visión estereotipada de nuestro arte». No basta con conocer ambas lenguas. No es suficiente con sustituir palabras. «No hay investigación más minuciosa y exhaustiva que la que el traductor concienzudo realiza del texto que traduce, y también de su propio idioma, en busca de las palabras adecuadas», señaló el nuevo honoris causa, para quien «en cierto sentido es más fácil componer una pieza literaria original que traducirla, porque el primer autor goza de plena libertad».
En su camino por el oficio que ha ejercicido junto con el de la docencia en la Universidad de Oxford, quiso Rutherford hacer un hermoso juego de palabras para desmentir el tópico de que «el traductor es traídor». «Es más bien un traedor, un traedor de tesoros de otras tierras». Es -y así lo aseveró Rutherford- un coautor que no debe conformarse con hacer una versión inferior a la primera. «Debe aspirar a ser no un escritorzuelo que fabrique reproducciones sino el coautor de una de las mejores novelas del mundo», subrayó.
Ese ha sido y sigue siendo el afán de este profesor británico muy vinculado personalmente con España, que domina además del castellano el gallego, idioma en el que ha escrito una novela. A él, a su carrera, sus logros y su «bonhomía» se refirió Agustín Coletes Blanco, que asumió el papel padrino y redactó su laudatio. También el catedrático de la Universidad de Oviedo del Departamento de Filología Anglogermánica y Francesa le dio a la traducción literaria el carácter de «ciencia y arte» por el que clamó Rutherford, quien escuchó un buen número de elogios hacia su trabajo como docente y su «arrojo académico» a la hora de traducir ‘La Regenta’ y ‘El Quijote’, «las dos novelas más importantes jamás escritas en la lengua española», lo que convierte su trabajo «en una hazaña propia delas edades mitológicas».
Hubo muchas palabras con sabor a la literatura clásica en la Universidad, pero hubo también que cumplir con el protocolo que exige una ceremonia en la que el coro universitario se encargó de poner voz a ‘Veni, Creator Spiritus’ y el ‘Gaudeamus Igitur’ que cerró el acto tras el discurso del rector, Vicente Gotor. A través de sus palabras estuvo en Oviedo presente Gabriel García Márquez, pues puso en las lúcidas mentes de los traductores la responsabilizad de universalizar y extender el realismo mágico que hoy está huérfano. Puso en su ingenio «esa magia de romper las barreras del idioma» como Rutherford hizo con dos clásicos de las letras españolas.
Tuvo Gotor también un recuerdo para el fallecido Eloy Benito Ruano en su intervención, que precedió a una visita a la exposición instalada hasta mañana en la Biblioteca Central Universitaria y que lleva por título ‘Rutherford entre el Quijote y La Regenta’, que pone focos sobre antiguas ediciones de ambas obras. La Universidad conserva el fondo más rico en ediciones antiguas de ‘El Quijote’ y algunas de ellas se muestran ya junto a la primera publicación de ‘La Regenta’ y otras más recientes. Por supuesto, también se exhibe la primera versión publicada en inglés de la obra de Clarín en 1984.
[Repost] Why Distractions Are Actually Good (by Ilya Pozin)
[Repost] El talón de Aquiles del traductor: dudas recurrentes (por Merche – traducirco)
DOMINGO, 20 DE ABRIL DE 2014
Cfr. original: http://www.traducirco.com/2014/04/el-talon-de-aquiles-del-traductor-dudas.html por Merche – traducirco.com
El talón de Aquiles del traductor:
|¿De dónde viene aquello de “el talón de Aquiles”?|
Ya hace un tiempo escribí una entrada sobre errores comunes y su solución según la Comisión Europea y precisamente hace unos días me encontré con otro documento (esta vez de la Fundéu) que también me guardaréde referencia para otro tipo de dudas que, al menos a mí, se me presentan cada cierto tiempo.
Cuando uno se pasa el día redactando en castellano le surgen miles de dudas imposibles de imaginar previamente, ya que en muchas ocasiones se trata de usos tan concretos que solo se pueden solucionar preguntándolos de manera individual. Sin embargo, en muchos otros casos son precisamente las expresiones más habituales las que nos hacen dudar y nos sorprendemos buscando una y otra vez la respuesta a la misma cuestión, incluso cuando ya pensábamos que lo teníamos claro.
En esta (breve) entrada compartiré una serie de expresiones o términos que me suelen hacer dudar a menudo y otras que he querido incluir porque veo que se traducen mal frecuentemente. Aunque la lista es relativamente breve, como podéis imaginar estos son solo algunos ejemplos y me propongo seguir ampliando la lista en el futuro. Además, os animo a plasmar aquellas expresiones que siempre acabáis teniendo que volver a buscar. Con ello conseguiríamos, por un lado, conocer dónde “flaquean” (entendiendo por “flaquear” conocer los conceptos que se nos resisten una y otra vez) otros traductores, aprender de sus dudas y tomar esta entrada como una compilación de preguntas frecuentes de compañeros del sector. Así pues, ¡espero vuestros comentarios!
Aquí van algunas de mis dudas recurrentes.
- “According to” se traduce por “de acuerdo con”, no “de acuerdo a”: “Cuando la locución introduce un sustantivo de persona y significa ‘con arreglo o conforme a lo que dice u opina esa persona’, el uso culto solo admite de acuerdo con”.
- “Result in” se traduce por “dar como resultado” (no “resultar en”) y tiene sinónimos como “ocasionar”, “conllevar”, “implicar”, etc.
- “En base a“ no es correcto; sí lo es “con base en”, “basándonos en”, “según”, etc.
- Traducir “any” por “cualquier(a)” en ocasiones es un anglicismo. Y cuidado, a veces se traduce por “todo”.
- En general, “eficiente” se aplica a personas; “eficaz”, a cosas (aunque también a personas). Nótese lo que dice la Fundéu al respecto, con especial mención a nuestro gremio: “El uso de eficaz-eficacia y eficiente-eficiencia es motivo de muchas discusiones, sobre todo entre los traductores, ya que los términos efficacy, efficiency y effectiveness no siempre son traducibles directamente por eficacia, eficiencia y efectividad. Sobre el empleo de estos términos en traducción médica, le recomendamos la entrada ‘effectiveness’ (pág. 313) del Diccionario crítico de dudas inglés-español de medicina (2.ª ed.), de Fernando Navarro (Madrid: McGraw-Hill, 2005)”. El Norte de Castilla también dedicó una reflexión llamado “efectivo, eficiente, eficaz”.
- “En relación con” y “con relación a” son correctas, “en relación a”, no. (Esta es de las que acabo buscando más habitualmente)
- “Estado” se escribe con mayúscula solo si se refiere al conjunto de órganos de un país.
- “Eventually” se traduce por “finalmente”, “a la larga”, “con el tiempo”, etc., no por “eventualmente”.
- Finés es el idioma; finlandés, el gentilicio.
- Malayo es el idioma; malasio, el gentilicio.
- Gran Bretaña está formada por Inglaterra, Escocia y el País de Gales; el Reino Unido, por Gran Bretaña e Irlanda del Norte.
- “Impredecible” es lo que no se puede predecir; “imprevisible”, lo que no se puede prever.
- “Influir” e “influenciar” son sinónimos en sentido, pero se construyen de forma distinta.
- Infringir una ley e infligir daño, no “inflingir”.
- “Junto a” expresa cercanía física; “junto con”, la idea de colaboración.
- Las dudas no se levantan; se suscitan, se siembran, se despiertan, surgen…
- “Memorial” en inglés se traduce por “monumento”.
Como decía, estos son solo algunas de mis dudas recurrentes. Ahora, ¡me encantaría leer las vuestras!
[Repost] How to keep an English conversation going (by Clare from english-at-home)
How to keep an English conversation going
It can be difficult to keep a conversation going. Even if you understand what the other person is saying, you can feel “blocked” or “frozen” when it’s your turn to speak. The words or phrases you need don’t often come quickly enough to mind.
The more opportunities you can get to use and speak English, the easier it is to find the right words when you need them. Take every chance you get to use your English! See How to practise your English for lots of ideas to find speaking opportunities.
Sounding fluent and confident in a few words
Here are some useful ways to keep the conversation going. The “secret” is that you don’t actually need many words to do this!
1. Show interest in the other speaker
You don’t need to say much. Often just one word is needed to show you are interested and listening. Try “Really?” (with a rising intonation), “Right” or “Sure”. You could even show you are listening with a non-word such as “Mmm” or Uh-huh”.
“I hate watching rubbish on the TV.”
2. Use a short phrase to show your feelings
For example, “How awful”, “Oh no!”, “You’re joking”, “What a pity” etc.
“My neighbour had a car accident yesterday.”
“Yes, but thankfully he wasn’t hurt.”
3. Ask a short question
You can use an auxiliary verb to make a short question which will encourage the other speaker to keep talking:
“We tried out the new Chinese restaurant last night.”
“I’m going to Barbados next week on holiday.”
“Are you? Lucky you!”
“It’s snowing again.”
4. Repeat what the other person said
Do this especially if the other person has said something surprising.
“He won £200 on the lottery.”
“I’m going to Barbados next week.”
Other ways to avoid silence
Here are some more tips to help you say something – even if you haven’t understood the other person or there’s nothing else to say.
If you don’t understand
“Sorry, I don’t understand.”
“Sorry, could you repeat that?”
“Sorry? I didn’t get that.”
If you don’t know the word
“I can’t find the word I’m looking for…”
“I’m not sure that this is the right word, but…”
“What I want to say is…”
If you can’t find the word immediately
You don’t want to be completely silent, but you need time to find the words.
You can even make some “noises”
Agreeing with the other person
You want to show that you agree, but you don’t have anything else to say.
Changing the subject
Everyone in the conversation has given an opinion, and now you want to talk about something else.
“Well, as I was saying…”
“So, back to …”
“So, we were saying …”
Sometimes we say things that other people don’t understand, or we give the wrong impression. Here are some expressions you can use to say something again.
“What I meant to say was…”
“Let me rephrase that…”
“Let me put this another way…”
“Perhaps I’m not making myself clear…”
Go back to the beginning
If you’re explaining something, and you realise that the other person doesn’t understand, you can use the following phrases:
“If we go back to the beginning…”
“The basic idea is…”
“One way of looking at it is…”
“Another way of looking at it is…”
For more help with English conversations and speaking, see Better English speaking skills.
[Repost] Internet Radio Provides Musical Space-Weather Reports from NASA’s LRO Mission (by Elizabeth Zubritsky)
Internet Radio Provides Musical Space-Weather Reports from NASA’s LRO Mission
The latest tool for checking space weather is an internet radio station fed by data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO.
The radio station essentially operates in real time, receiving measurements of how much radiation the spacecraft is experiencing and converting those into a constant stream of music. The radiation levels determine which instrument is featured, the musical key being used and the pitches played.
“Our minds love music, so this offers a pleasurable way to interface with the data,” said the leader of the music project, Marty Quinn of the University of New Hampshire, Durham. “It also provides accessibility for people with visual impairments.”
The radiation levels are determined by LRO’s Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation, or CRaTER. Equipped with six detectors, CRaTER monitors the energetic charged particles from galactic cosmic rays and solar events.
The instrument makes two kinds of crucial measurements. One type studies the interaction of radiation in space with a material that is like human tissue; this is helping scientists assess the effects that exposure would have on people and organisms. The other type looks at radiation hitting the moon and the products generated by that interaction, which provides a way to explore the composition of the regolith on the moon.
“CRaTER has discovered wide-ranging and fundamental aspects of such radiation,” said Nathan Schwadron, the principal investigator for CRaTER. “For example, we have discovered that tissue-equivalent plastics and other lightweight materials can provide even more effective protection than standard shielding, such as aluminum.”
Each detector on CRaTER reports the number of particles registered every second. These counts are relayed to CRaTER Live Radio, where software converts the numbers into pitches in a four-octave scale. Six pitches are played every second, one for each detector. Higher, tinkly pitches indicate less activity, whereas lower, somber-sounding pitches indicate more activity.
The software selects the primary instrument and a musical key based on recent activity. At the lowest radiation levels, the main instrument will be a piano, playing pitches from one of the major scales. But as the peak radiation level climbs, one of the minor scales will be selected instead, and the piano will be replaced by one of seven other instruments.
For example, when CRaTER picked up elevated radiation counts caused by the solar flare on Jan. 7, 2014, the primary instrument changed to a marimba, which is two instruments up from the piano. A steel drum or guitar instead of a marimba would mean the radiation level had ramped up more. A banjo would mean the peak had climbed to the top of the normal operating range.
If the counts climb beyond the top of the normal operating range – as might happen during a very big event – the software would switch into a second operating range. The piano would again represent the bottom of this range, and the banjo would represent the top. To indicate which range is current, a violin and a cello play sustained notes in the background. If those sustained notes are played at the highest pitches on the scale, the normal operating range is in effect; if those notes drop by even one pitch, the second range is being used.
The radio station is one of CRaTER’s official data products and is available online and through an app. The data feed from LRO is live, with one caveat. Whenever the spacecraft moves behind the moon, it cannot line up with data-collecting antennas on Earth, so there is a blackout period of about an hour. During that time, the station reuses the previous hour’s data. To indicate that the music is not live, the sound of the bongo drum in the background is changed, and the chiming of the triangle is muted.
The most familiar example of data sonification – conversion into sound – is a simple one: The Geiger counter produces a click every time it detects a radioactive particle.
In the past few decades, scientists in many fields have experimented with sonification, hoping to capitalize on humans’ ability to hear small changes instantly, even against a noisy background. Music has the added advantage of making it easy to process many changes at once through variations in pitch, rhythm, tempo, scale, loudness and instrumentation.
“Music makes it easy for people to take in the data, and it seems to be a natural fit for space missions,” said LRO’s project scientist, John Keller of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
Sonification has been used to present data from several NASA spacecraft, especially Voyagers 1 and 2 and Kepler. Quinn previously worked on sonification for other NASA missions, including Mars Odyssey, the Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory, the Advanced Composition Explorer and the Interstellar Boundary Explorer.
LRO is managed by NASA Goddard for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.
› NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
› CRaTER Live Radio and links to the app
Translators: beware of spelling mistakes during the Easter holiday!
复活 节 快乐！(fùhuó jié kuàilè)
Христос Воскресе ! (Xristos voskres)
المسيح قام ! (el maseeh qam)
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