The Amateur Scientist; January 1996; Scientific American Magazine; by Carlson; 2 Page(s)
Evolution is the greatest composer --just stand on a lonely beach, and you'll hear. From the wind and waves, from the voices of gulls, nature conducts a symphony grander and more pleasing than any played in a concert hall. And the concert does not end at the seashore. Over all the earth's surface there may be 10 million unique sounds produced by birds, amphibians, mammals and insects. Yet despite their pull on our psyche, only about 1 percent of these natural rhapsodies has been properly recorded and archived. Far fewer have been systematically studied. With a little care, you can capture sounds never before recorded and study their patterns.
You might even be able to contribute them to a growing national registry. The Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology holds the world's largest collection of nature's voices. The archive contains songs from more than half of all bird species, not to mention insect chirps, amphibian croaks and mammal bleats. Contributing to this library of course demands high-performance devices, which can run into the thousands of dollars. Fortunately, discoveries can come more cheaply. With the help of some special software, you can do original research with a modest recording system.