What Did the Big Bang Sound Like?
The Big Bang, the current theory behind the universe's existence, kind of sounds like a spaceship descending alongside you and hovering overhead -- or maybe a protracted electronic whoopee cushion.
Physics professor John G. Cramer of the University of Washington in Seattle originally created an aural interpretation of the Big Bang a decade ago, according to the university. (The 2003 version sounds like a sound effect from '60s-era Star Trek.)
Armed with data from the European Space Agency's Planck mission, which currently maps relic radiation from the Big Bang, Cramer produced the latest audio rendition of our universe's infancy. The data's higher frequency spectrum gave Cramer a more accurate representation of the expanding universe, which he likens to the sound of a bass.
"The expanding universe 'stretches' the sound wavelengths and thereby lowers their frequencies," Cramer writes. "To account for this effect, the program shifts the waves downward in frequency to follow the expansion in the first 760 thousand years of the universe."
Hear the Big Bang rendering as 20-, 50-, 100-, 200-, or 500-second recordings on Cramer's UW site. Cramer recommends listening to the 100-second version.
Mackenzie Mount is an editorial intern at Sierra. She's cleaned toilets at Yellowstone National Park and studied sustainable cooking at The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts in Austin, Texas.