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This Ain’t No Disco

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David Byrne is behind a public sound art project set to open this summer in New York’s Battery Maritime Building, an old waterfront structure. Keyboards, to be played by passers-by, will blow air through exposed pipes, creating deep flute-like sounds, trigger vibrations in steel girders so that they hum, and strike metal columns to ring with gong-like sounds. “It sounds really simple, but it’s kind of a lot of fun,” said Byrne, who started the Talking Heads. “It’s more than fun — it’s awe-inspiring.” Read the rest of this entry »

Whale Fins Inspire Quieter, More Efficient Fans and Wind Turbines

Science, Wind turbines 2 Comments »


Humpback whales are the inspiration for a new approach to blade design being used in fans and tested for wind turbines. The bumps along the edge of the whales’ long fins had long been considered an anatomical anomaly, but a biology professor in Pennsylvania has shown that they channel water across the surface of the fin in ways that create more maneuverability and power. Dr. Frank Fish has formed WhalePower to develop new industrial designs based on this discovery; the results are a sharp break from previous attempts to make fan and turbine blade edges as smooth as possible. Read the rest of this entry »

Towns Seek Setbacks for Wind Turbines to Protect Residents from Noise, Companies Concerned

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Across the eastern and central United States and Canada, small towns are writing ordinances to govern wind farm development, grappling with uncertainty about reasonable buffer zones to assure that residents will not be disturbed by turbine noise. In recent months, stories about several specific wind farms that have caused noise complaints have circulated more widely, raising local concerns elsewhere about the common practice of using 1000- to 1500-foot setbacks (with Mars Hill in Maine and Allegheny Ridge in Pennsylvania being the most commonly cited). The research and testimony of two doctors, one in New York and one in Italy, and several acoustics consultants, all of whom advocate for much larger buffers between large turbines and residences, are beginning to influence local towns to adopt more stringent ordinances, which energy companies say will severely limit their abilty to find suitable sites for wind farms. Read the rest of this entry »

Seismic Surveys at Forefront of Offshore Alaska Development Resistance

Effects of Noise on Wildlife, News, Seismic Surveys Comments Off on Seismic Surveys at Forefront of Offshore Alaska Development Resistance

 A surge in lease sales along Alaska’s west and north coasts has spurred predictable resistance from locals and environmental groups. While the effect of any possible oil spills in harsh waters is certainly a major focus of concerns being voiced, the impacts of the first phase of oil and gas exploration have moved to the forefront of discussions. The oil industry is gearing up to explore a record number of offshore lease areas in the next few years, and this summer, up to five seismic survey vessels are scheduled to be off the Alaskan coast, firing airguns 2-4 times per minute and listening for the echoes Read the rest of this entry »

Pennsylvania Couple Sues to Stop Noise from Wind Farm

Human impacts, News 1 Comment »

 Todd and Jill Stull of Portage, Pennsylvania have sued the operators of the Allegheny Ridge Wind Farm, alleging that the turbines near their homes create noise in excess of local regulatory limits. Attorney Bradley Tupi, representing the Stulls, alleges in the lawsuit that Gamesa Energy misrepresented to local officials the noise levels from the turbines to get approvals for construction of the wind farm. “They assured the officials in the township in question that the turbines would be quiet. Read the rest of this entry »