Why you should listen
When Wanda Diaz Merced lost her sight in her early 20s, her dreams of studying stars in the visually oriented scientific world suffered a major setback -- until she discovered “sonification,” a way to turn huge data sets into audible sound using pitch, duration and other properties. Merced realized that she could use her ears to detect patterns in stellar radio data, and could uncover connections obscured by graphs and visual representation.
While working at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Merced’s sonifications inspired musician and researcher Gerhard Sonnert to create X-Ray Hydra, an album of oddly jazzy music based on her audio representations.
What others say
“For most people, the study of astrophysics means poring over calculations, charts, texts and graphics. But Wanda Diaz-Merced [and her collaborators] have pioneered a different approach. Its underlying motif is simple: Space produces music.” — Smithsonian, May 31, 2013