What It's Like To Sing On Another Planet
Popular Science|Winter 2019
What It's Like To Sing On Another Planet
Acousticians sometimes speculate about how conversations might carry on alien worlds. Of course, you’d have no time to chat if you stood in the open air on Mars: Your blood would boil you to death in seconds. But what about those final screams?

No matter where you are, your voice is a product of how swiftly pressure waves move through your larynx and the frequency at which your vocal cords vibrate. But when shouted into different gases of varying densities, the same noises take on new forms. Here’s how a few extraterrestrial atmospheres could change your tune.


Human vocal cords quiver at frequencies adapted to a Goldilocks atmosphere— not especially dense or light. Our air’s plentiful nitrogen and scant carbon-dioxide molecules don’t absorb many vibrations, so sound also happens to carry well.


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Winter 2019