Monthly Archives: October 2014

Taylor Swift’s White Noise

Taylor Swift accidentally released 8 seconds of white noise to iTunes, and it went to No. 1 in Canada.  Mike Rugnetta offers his take on this, as well as a helpful explanation of what white noise actually is.  Baseball and cooking metaphors are used.

Sound as a Weapon

Mike Rugnetta and Atlas Obscura‘s Dylan Thuras have a fascinating discussion on the use of sound in war and at what point sound becomes a weapon.  Among the topics covered:

  • World War I “sound mirrors” (giant concrete parabolas that ineffectively tracked incoming planes)
  • Project Disperse
  • The Mosquito
  • “Tunnel chicken”
  • LRAD
  • So-called “less than lethal” technology
  • Humankind’s unintentional sound war on the animal population

PD Episode Image via

Whisper Quiet

Do you have a favorite sound?  Mike Rugnetta has a few:

  • A Snapple bottle opening
  • An orchestra tuning, with a couple instruments clearly off-key
  • A breaking incandescent light bulb

In this episode, Mike explores the phenomenon of ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.  Or, as some call it, a “head orgasm,” brought on by certain sounds, like whispering.  There are even YouTube channels dedicated to triggering these responses.  How does this all circle back to American telephone advertising from the 1970s and U.S. telecom infrastructure?  Mike explains.

PLAY ALONG AT HOME: What’s your favorite sound?  Record it, hashtag it #favoritesnd, and post it on Instagram.