Charlie Mydlarz is working on a fascinating PhD thesis at the University of Salford near Manchester, England. He’s studying how everyday sounds make us feel.
Did you know that our human desire to be around other people draws us to the sounds of “hustle and bustle?” Or that insistent and annoying noise can raise blood pressure and cause chronic anxiety? By measuring sound environments around the world, Charlie’s research can help urban planners make informed decisions, let home buyers find peaceful locations, and affect the thinking of other professional and social groups.
As part of his research, Charlie and other scientists at the university’s Audio and Acoustic Engineering Research Centre are building a sound map of the world, and they are asking for your help. Sound Around You is a citizen science project that makes it easy for you to use your mobile phone (or any digital recording device) to record and upload 10- to 15-second clips from any “soundscape”–or sound environment–you choose. Simply upload the clips to Charlie’s virtual map along with a few words to explain why you chose to record a particular soundscape, and Charlie and his team will analyze the data and share their findings sometime this winter. In the meantime, you can listen to the sounds of the world, from a busy road in Hong Kong (eventful, not tranquil) to an accordion player in Cognac, France (pleasant, not at all negative).
I asked Charlie if Sci4Cits could help target any regions in particular. “It would be brilliant to get some recordings from the the West Coast and southern regions of the U.S.,” he said. “And Africa and the Middle East are other blanks on the map I’d like to fill!” He also added this tip: “The hardest part is remembering where you were when you made the recording, so it’s usually worth writing down the rough location when you record the ‘scapes.”
Charlie and hundreds of other researchers whose citizen science projects are featured in the Sci4Cits Project Finder eagerly await your participation.
If you’re a veteran citizen scientist who has worked primarily in one field (birds, for example), challenge yourself this summer by trying another area of research (like Charlie’s sound project). Then, share your crossover experience on your member blog. Not only will your fellow citizen scientists enjoy reading about your adventures, but your feedback can help inform researchers and scholars as they create new opportunities for citizen scientists.