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The Complex Call of the Carolina Chickadee


Over 60 years ago when I was an Engineering student at the University of CT
I was part of an experiment to determine just which part of the human voice spectrum communicated information.
It was obvious, even then, that while the voice spectrum was many kilocycles wide,
the information transfer was at teletype speeds - typically under 100 words per minute.
The brain processed a simpler signal generated in the structure of the ear.
my Job along with other volunteers (at 50 cent per hour) was to listen to artificial speech written by hand.

Your article brought memories of this experiment back to me. One of the principal experimenters could almost miraculously speak to us with a calligraphy pen on a strip of paper processed by the frequency synthesizer. Not only was he easily understood, he could speak to us in accents from new england to the deep south. The spectrograms in this article on bird speech looks very much like what was processed by the machine we listened to.

If they keep at it -- someday these experimenters may be able to talk to the birds in their own language.

Roland Boucher
Irvine Ca
posted by Roland Boucher
August 23, 2012 @ 12:06 PM


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