Hear the sound of the oldest and largest living thing in the world
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Pando, the “forest of a single tree”, is the largest living organism in the world and had its sound captured by hydrophones
In the mountains of Utah, in the western United States, there is a huge grove of swaying poplars (trees with small leaves and thick whitish stems, known as Aspen, that sway in the wind). It turns out that, in fact, that world of 47,000 trunks called Pando, which extends over almost 430 km, is a single tree – the largest and oldest living being in the world.
Now, a project has managed to capture an acoustic portrait of this impressive organism, the “forest of a single tree” that sustains an entire ecosystem on which 68 species of plants and animals have depended for about 80,000 years.
Entitled “Under the tree: the sounds of a trembling giant”, the research was presented this Wednesday (10) at the 184th Meeting of the Acoustic Society of America, in Chicago, USA.
“Pando challenges our basic understanding of the world,” said journalist and sound artist Jeff Rice, one of the study’s authors. “The idea that this giant forest is a single organism challenges our concept of the individual. Its vastness humiliates our sense of space.”
Sound can measure the health of the world’s oldest living being
After shooting Pando’s sheets for The New York Times Magazine’s ” Listen to the World” insert in 2018, Rice returned to the location in July 2022 as resident artist for the non-profit group “Amigos do Pando”, founded by the photographer. Lance Oditt in 2019.
“The sounds are beautiful and interesting, but from a practical point of view, they can be used to document the health of an environment”, said the artist. “They are a record of local biodiversity and provide a baseline that can be measured against environmental changes.”
Rice was particularly captivated by the sound of vibrations passing through the tree during a gale. Using hydrophones, he managed to record the sound of Pando’s root system, which can reach up to 28 meters deep, according to some reports. Oditt has identified several potential recording sites below the surface.
“Hydrophones don’t just need water to work,” Rice said. “They can also pick up vibrations from surfaces like roots, and when I put my headphones on I was instantly blown away. Something was going on.”
According to Source Techaiguide him, it is still not conclusive that the sound ( which you can hear here ) is really from the roots of Pando. But a variety of experiments support the idea.
phone from cans
The work was able to show that vibrations can pass from “tree” to “tree” (or from branch to branch) through the ground.
When they lightly tapped a branch 300 feet away, the hydrophone registered with a low thud. Rice likens it to the classic tin can telephone. “It’s similar to two Tshirts cans connected by a string,” he said. “Except that there are 47,000 cans connected by a huge root system”.
A similar phenomenon occurred during a thunderstorm. As the leaves moved more strongly with the wind, the signal recorded by the hydrophone also increased.
“The findings are tempting. Although it started out as art, we see enormous potential for use in science. Wind, converted to vibration (sound) and traveling through the root system, could also reveal the inner workings of Pando’s vast hidden hydraulic system in a non-destructive way,” said Oditt.
The artist revealed that the organization Amigos do Pando plans to use the collected data as a basis for further studies on water movement, how branch arrays are related to each other, insect colonies and root depth, about which little is currently known. .
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