VSL:SCIENCE // Meet the hottest composer around

The sun is a gigantic nuclear-fusion power plant, smashing atoms together with maximum force and generating 85 percent of the energy that reaches our planet. The solar flares it gives off are awesome to behold, like lava eruptions, and the solar winds are equally impressive. Astrophysicists are now able to record them both with frightening precision. But until recently, the images were missing one, essential element: a soundtrack.

No longer. In collaboration with scientists at the NASA Space Science lab at UC Berkeley, the British artists Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt have turned the sun’s “hot spots” into soundwavesand stitched them into a ten-minute video that wouldn’t look out of place at a college film festival. The images are startling, and the soundtrack — which brings especially large air-conditioning units to mind — is grand and oceanic. It’s as if Brian Eno abandoned his collaboration with earthbound luminaries and turned his attentions upward.

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VSL:SCIENCE // Meet the hottest composer around