LIFE AND DEATH
by NABIL IQBAL with soundtrack by JONATHAN ULIEL SALDANHA
This is an INTERACTIVE GAME that lets you make a BLACK HOLE and watch it die. In the first half, you have one minute to feed it. CLICK ANYWHERE on the screen to create a particle which might fall in, and listen to the chirps of the gravitational waves that are produced. In the second half, WATCH the black hole evaporate and LISTEN TO DEEP SPACE FOR 5 MINUTES. In the process everything that fell in eventually emerges, heavily scrambled. The final color pattern is unique to the black hole you made.
ATTENTION: Play this game on your computer or
tablet and keep the SOUND ON!
NABIL IQBAL is a theoretical physicist based at Durham University in the UK. He is interested in understanding quantum physics (i.e. things that wiggle), gravity (i.e. things that fall), and string theory (i.e. things that do both).
JONATHAN ULIEL SALDANHA is a musician, visual artist, scenic and sound designer. He investigates the intersections between pre-language, alterity, sci-fi, sound as a vector for contagion, and the tension between the synthetic and landscape.
DO YOU WANT TO LEARN ABOUT THE PHYSICS AND THE SOUNDSCAPE OF THIS EXPERIENCE?
This game is a stylized representation of the dynamics of an actual black hole.
/ The first half illustrates how massive objects interact with a black hole and orbit it. The rules governing this motion are approximations to the actual dynamics of massive objects in a gravitational field. In particular, notice how particles generically spiral inwards towards the black hole; this happens because their collective energy is radiated out in the form of gravitational waves, which we have chosen to depict with sounds. We have tried to model quasi-realistically how the frequency and amplitude of these waves changes with time, while keeping the game fun to play and listen to.
/ Such dramatic processes — in which black holes collide, and one eats another — happen in real life in deep space. The resulting ripples in the fabric of spacetime can be detected on Earth using gravitational wave detectors. The characteristic “chirp” — arising from the rapidly increasing frequency of the gravitational radiation as the two bodies collide — can clearly be heard in actual gravitational waveforms, and is the inspiration for the name of Plataforma UMA’s project “THE BIRTH OF A BLACK HOLE SOUNDS LIKE A BIRD'S CHIRP”.
/ The second half of the game reflects what happens to a black hole if it is left alone. It will then radiate out all of its contents, in a process called Hawking radiation. In real life this happens excruciatingly slowly, and has never been experimentally detected. This process is thought to utterly scramble all of the information which enters, which we have chosen to depict with the mixed-up colors of the particles that fly out. It is thought that the final pattern of Hawking radiation — in our game, the circle of colors surrounding the space where the black hole once was — retains a memory of everything that entered, though it is encoded in a very convoluted and garbled form. The details of this scrambling remain unclear, and much active research in theoretical physics is devoted to understanding this process.
/ The sound piece CYGNUS-X1 was constructed from the manipulation of electromagnetic noise coming from the Cygnus x-1 black hole, recorded in 2006 at Dwingelow Radio Antenna (CAMRAS), Netherlands.
/ A mechanical ear listens to radio sources coming from the cosmos electromagnetic spectrum ~ strong radio emanations arrive from the Cygnus constellation and its black hole ~ the signal feeding the antenna is translated into white noise ~ the signal deteriorates through its electric mechanical body ~ listening to the machine that hears ~ The noise was progressively filtered and resonated through a series of objects, a sequence of sonic translations between flexible membranes and inner cavities.
/ Translation materials:
∞ > electricity > metal > ceramics > wood > skin > goat skull > human skull > electricity > ∞
All sounds recorded and manipulated by Jonathan Uliel Saldanha.
Mastered by Frederic Alstadt
Thanks to Regina de Miguel and the project Nouvelle Vague Science Fiction.