An incredible thought provoking talk today by Dr. Wanda Diaz-Merced on the ‘Sonification for the exploration of 1D Astrophysics Data.’ First, it was impressive to see the tools that have been developed to help visual impaired people to analyze data sets. As someone who enjoys programming, it seems like it would be a fascinating challenge and widely applicable. It looks like the xSonify package from Goddard was used for her research and from her description of it, it looks to have an impressive number of features allowing different data sets to be turned into audio representation.
Second, it also thought provoking to be faced with the reality that our understanding of the Universe is based on how we perceive it. It was quite interesting to hear her quote a study that found that people with dyslexia are more efficient at detecting differences at the edges of different data sets. In her own research, audio plus multiple visual indicators made it much easier to detect patterns in weak signals. How else might perception be limiting our understanding of the Universe? This goes both in what data we chose to look at and how we make that data available.