Matin Durrani - Science Journalist

Spotify playlist - Furry Logic: Sound

Posted by Matin Durrani on 4 October 2016

Tags: , ,

I've now created the next Spotify playlist featuring animals covered in my and Liz Kalaugher's new popular-science book Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life, published by Bloomsbury. This playlist's all about the animals covered in our chapter on sound.

You can listen to the playlist here. For the record, here's a list of what's included:

* The Peacock by Nice Little Penguins -- a lovely little song by this Danish folksy outfit. Perfect accompaniment to reading about these birds in Furry Logic, which give off sound we can't hear. Known as "infrasound", it lies below the minimum frequency of human hearing but turns out it's essential for the males to woo female peahens.

* Bat Out of Hell by Meatloaf - this song needs no introduction but I've learned from writing Furry Logic that bats aren't the hellish creatures we might think. Instead, the way they echolocate using ultrasound is clever beyond belief, especially when it comes to one species of bat tracking down moths.

* Rattlesnakes by Llloyd Cole and the Commotions. I've cheated a little by including this classic 1980s track beloved of students in black trenchcoats trying to look intellectual by quoting Simone de Beauvoir (no I'm not talking about me). I say cheated because the chapter does cover snakes, but it's about Saharan sand vipers rather than rattlesnakes. Sadly no-one seems to have written a song that's on Spotify about Saharan sand vipers, which have a clever way of detecting the subtle sound waves that travel under the surface of song as a mouse or other prey scurries by.

* Elusive Youth by Elephant from their 2011 album Elusive Youth. I searched high and low on Spotify for decent elephant songs and almost gave up until I came across this track from this London duo. The song's not about elephants but I like it. In Furry Logic, we look at how elephants can detect underground waves with their feet to find out where fellow elephants are.

* Les Agrafes by Monsieur Lobster from their album Miscellanea. Never heard of this lot, but this song opens with a snatch of a strange noise that's possibly almost as odd as the sound made by the California spiny lobster. It rubs its body parts against its body - a bit like a violinist - to create a sound that is vital for self-defence. As we find out in the book, sound is a vital resource deep underwater, where light doesn't penetrate and so is nowhere near as useful as above ground.