The Loh Down On Science

Ocean Speak

How to speak ocean.

I can speak backwards. "Straw-cab keeps knack I."

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science,

And how to speak Ocean.

Sound waves get bent out of shape as they travel through liquid water. With distance, meaningful signals become distorted unrecognizable noise, making underwater acoustic communication impossible.

Until now.

Researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography found they could clear up distorted signals using a "time-reversal" technique:

First, they record the sounds from a particular source. Then they send the sounds back to that source through the ocean, but in reverse sequence. That is, with the latest-arriving sounds sent first--say, "pop luck-airk pans"

On the return trip, the ocean undoes its own distortion, transforming "pop luck-airk pans" into "snap crackle pop." At the original position.

Once two underwater craft establish contact, they could communicate using Reverse Speak tailored to their oceanic environment. The technique could also improve SONAR, and our understanding of marine life.

Lending a whole new twist to a sequel of "Das Boot." Which the Ocean would transform from "Das Boot" into "Toob Sad." Weird. And that toob WAS sad. Weird.


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