© Credit: Claire Antel
A spectrogram of whistlers recorded in Dunedin, New Zealand.
The Earth sings every day, with an electric chorus. With the right tuning, radios can eavesdrop on this sizzling symphony of crackles, pops and whistles - the melody of millions of lightning bolts. A listener in New Zealand can even hear a volcano in Alaska erupt, a new study reports.
unleash intense bursts of visible light and very-low-frequency (VLF) radio waves, among other kinds of energy. With a VLF receiver, anyone can listen to the constant chatter of Earth's lightning, estimated at 8 million strikes every day. (Not every lightning bolt becomes a whistler.)
A worldwide listening network is tuned to one particular lightning sound, called whistlers. These eerie electronic signals supposedly got their name from soldiers, who compared the sound to falling grenades. Modern ears might liken whistlers to a video game's "pew-pew-pew" soundtrack. [Listen to the Volcanic Whistling
Whistlers are pulses of VLF radio energy that have traveled into space, leaping from one side of Earth to the other along the planet's magnetic field lines. Scientists monitor whistlers because the beautiful noise tells them about the planet's protective bubble of charged particles, called the plasmasphere. Whistlers on Venus and Jupiter suggest lightning also crackles on other planets.
Now, however, researchers have also linked a flurry of whistlers detected in Dunedin, New Zealand, to processes deep inside the Earth. For the first time
, scientists have connected whistlers to volcanic lightning
, according to a study published July 2 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters
"I think it's really cool," said Jacob Bortnik, a researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was not involved in the study. "We're establishing a new connection between deep Earth and space."
For "good, up-to-the-minute knowledge of what's going on in space" [and earth] the team should read Pierre Lescaudron and Laura Knight-Jadczyk's new book
, which offers plenty of explanations from the winning Electric Universe model. By demystifying phenomena such as how lightning, earthquakes and meteors generate electrophonic sounds, through disruptions of the geomagnetic field and the emissions of VLF, these and many other not commonly acknowledged interactions of our plasma rich universe are objectively explained.