SOUND - Extensions Story
Waves in a Stream
It's the first day of a three day weekend. I decided to go for a walk. The
ground is covered with snow, but it's not very deep. While walking, I make
this amazingly loud crunching sound as I break through the crust on the
snow. When I stop, the world is completely silent like that space I imagine
between the stars.
The sun is moving between cloud and sky as I move between
forest and meadow. The result is a shifting shadow play of change and contrasts.
Light and dark in motion, a fitting backdrop for my thoughts. Gwen's mood
has shifted. She has been reading about medical research on her disease.
Doctors are beginning to understand its physical and biochemical cause and
are hopeful that a cure can be found in the near future. As Gwen's vision
loss will be slow, she is hopeful that a cure will be found before too much
irreparable damage is done. I'm pleased to see Gwen talking more, and she
actually smiled yesterday. I try to be positive and upbeat, but inside,
I'm uncertain and concerned. Is this just false optimism masking her hurt
and delaying acceptance of her condition? How is Gwen going to react in
the future if a cure isn't found? It's hard to know what is best. Yesterday,
we finished the core project of our sound unit, I feel more confused than
ever. I was sure that loudness was the perfect range finder. In fact, there
are several problems with this idea. As you move away from a sound source,
it quickly gets difficult to hear the change in loudness as you move further
away. Under the right conditions, even more startling things can happen.
A sound can actually get louder as you move away from the
source, or quieter as you move towards it. In addition, sound navigators
face a problem which has always plagued astronomers. It would seem like
a simple matter to judge the distance of a star by its brightness. Bright
stars are close. Faint stars are distant. However, it's not so simple. When
you see a bright star, is it a distant supergiant or a nearby dwarf? In
the same way, how do you interpret a soft sound when you don't have any
information about the source except the sound?
Is it quiet and nearby or loud and distant? I'm baffled.
How do visually-impaired people use sound to get around? Gradually, the
sound of my own breathing came to my attention. I was huffing and puffing
and starting to sweat.
Lost in my thoughts, I had climbed the saddle at the head
of our valley. Before me was the next valley. I turned around. I could see
the radio telescope, my home, Gwen's home, and the other buildings in the
distance. I decided to head back. My thoughts changed direction along with
me. I started thinking about the coming week. On Tuesday, we will start
small group research projects in the area of sound. We have more freedom
to follow our own interests. I am really looking forward to this. While
I feel a little frustrated in my search for knowledge about Gwen's future,
I really like the topic of sound. I especially like the idea of sound waves.
There are waves in the little stream beside the trail, in the clouds above,
and in the trees as the wind starts to blow. I keep finding waves all around
me. I've seen these things before, but I didn't recognize the common pattern,
a pattern that extends to also take in sound and even light. What a wonderful,
To be continued...
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