Listen to the sound of the Big Bang in hi-fi

A professor of physics has remastered in high fidelity the sound of the universe being born.

Spiral Galaxy NGC
(Credit: European Southern Observatory)

A professor of physics has remastered in high fidelity the sound of the universe being born.

An estimated 13.798 ± 0.037 billion years have passed since the birth of the universe, and any sound produced by the event has long died away. Scientists believe, however, that the expansion of the universe produced massive waves of sound that echoed through plasma and hydrogen, shaping the cosmic background radiation so that some areas remained hotter and others remained colder.

Data collected by WMAP compared to Planck's data.(Credit: ESA/NASA)

As NASA's probes collect information on that cosmic background radiation (cosmic microwave background, or CMB), one Professor of Physics has been using the data to reform and record the sound of the Big Bang. Professor Emeritus John Cramer of the University of Washington, Seattle, has been working on the sound for about 10 years — since the first CMB data collected by NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) became available.

In 2003, Professor Cramer entered the wavelength changes between the different temperature zones into a program called Wolfram Mathematica to convert them into sound, creating a 100-second sound file that condensed the noise that the universe made from about 380,000 years after the Big Bang to about 760,000 years.

Then CMB data came in from The European Space Agency's (ESA) Planck satellite.

"I have decided to do the same thing with the new data from the ESA's Planck Mission analysis of the CMB, which analyses the temperature variations of the cosmic microwave background into angular frequency components or multipoles," Professor Cramer said on his website. "The new frequency spectrum goes to much higher frequencies than did the WMAP analysis, and therefore offers a more 'high-fidelity' rendition of the Sound of the Big Bang."

The work was harder this time around since Planck's data was more impenetrable than WMAP's, meaning Professor Cramer had to manually convert each data point from a graph — but the resultant sound file, mapping the universe's first 760,000, is suitably impressive.

Professor Cramer also created the sound file at varying lengths, from 20 seconds to 500 seconds, available for download on his website; you can listen to his recommended length, 100 seconds, in the YouTube video below. It sounds a little like the Slow Down.