This Week in Sound: “Acoustically Stressed”

A lightly annotated clipping service

These sound-studies highlights of the week are lightly adapted from the June 20, 2022, issue of the free weekly email newsletter This Week in Sound (

As always, if you find sonic news of interest, please share it with me, and (except with the most widespread of news items) I’ll credit you should I mention it here.

“Moths are going to inspire the next generation of sound-absorbing materials. … Remarkably, they found that the wings absorbed as much as 87% of incoming sound energy when mounted on top of a solid surface, while also absorbing a wide range of frequencies (broadband) coming from many different angles (omnidirectional).” ➔

Barcelona is taking action on noise pollution: “If the limits are exceeded during two consecutive weekends, the area will be confirmed as acoustically stressed. … In that case the district will have to present an action plan that can be worked on with neighbours, restaurants and others to try to mitigate the damage that is being done.” ➔

“A 20-year-old woman who was born with a small and misshapen right ear has received a 3-D printed ear implant made from her own cells.” The technology is remarkable: “The new ear, transplanted in March, will continue to regenerate cartilage tissue.” (The disorder is called microtia. It’s “a rare birth defect that causes the auricle, or external part of the ear, to be small and malformed.”) ➔ (Thanks, Mike Rhode — sorry I’m just getting around to this one)

Clive Thompson rants against the car alarm, which he describes as “the distilled essence of car-ownership,” and describes the difficulty he had getting a car dealer to remove his. Two bits of his data appear in this week’s Sound Ledger. (I found this via the Twitter account of Deb Chachra, who suggested: “disconnecting your car alarm should be required before you can get a residential street parking permit in urban areas.”) ➔

“We’ve all been on a call where someone has poor room acoustics making it hard to hear them, or seen two people try to talk at the same time creating an awkward ‘no, you go ahead’ moment. Microsoft’s new AI-powered voice quality improvements should improve or even eliminate these day-to-day annoyances.” ➔

Air taxis may be actually coming. The air doesn’t require the eminent domain that freeways can, but there are other sorts of impacts. “While a single air taxi may be relatively quiet, what happens when there is a constant stream of them coming in and out of a landing spot? Should there be nighttime restrictions on flights? Will this just be a means for the ultra-wealthy to buzz over poor neighborhoods to Dodger Stadium or Arena?” ➔

I’d missed this dication news when sorting through the recent Apple announcements: “Today we’re excited to introduce an all-new dictation experience that lets you fluidly move between voice and touch.” There is even “emoji dictation.” ➔

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