Whenever I’m cooped up on an airplane on my way to a business meeting, tradeshow or presentation, I take the opportunity to flip through some of my favourite magazines and catch up on the latest technology and scientific discoveries. Last year, I read an article in Wired magazine about the Khan Academy, an online educational site that offers an amazing array of short instructional videos on a range of topics. I checked it out when I got home and was immediately hooked.
Recently, the Khan Academy hired Vi Hart, a formerly independent blogger on the subjects of math and music. Vi calls herself a ‘mathemusician’ and presents the most compelling videos on mathematical subjects.
Whether you think of yourself as a 'math person' or not, it’s difficult to not be engaged by Vi’s presentations, which explore some truly fascinating questions. Her delivery is densely compact, but clever and entertaining.
So why am I writing about her work on my blog, which focuses on all things acoustic? Well, one of her videos happens to cover the subject of how our ears hear and perceive sound.
This video is just under 13 minutes and delves into frequency, notes, chords and more. The first three minutes present a visual, accessible and entertaining explanation of how the ear picks up and interprets the sounds around us. It’s well worth the time it takes to watch it. You’ll be rewarded with an understanding of the magic of sound, hearing and music. But consider yourself warned – you may need one or two cups of coffee first to ramp up to Vi’s speed!
Once you’re done watching Vi’s video, you’ll probably feel compelled to look at more. They have nothing to do with acoustics or sound masking, but are some of the best presentations of mathematical subjects I’ve ever seen. Her three-part series on spirals and Fibonacci is fantastic.
Brew a fresh pot of coffee and enjoy!