I just had to link to this amazingly well written and fascinating New York Observer essay that seamlessly combines three subjects of enduring interest: synesthesia, black holes, and Emmylou Harris. (Hat tip: Powerline.)
My favorite part:
So I’m sitting at a table in a hotel lounge with Emmylou Harris. [ ] And she’s talking about synesthesia and black holes....She [ ] told me the story of a guy in one of her bands, Roy Huskey Jr., a bass player who told her that he had synesthesia: He saw musical notes as colors. And she remembered that he’d always say that, alone of all the notes, B flat was “very, very, very black,” really, really dark.“The funny thing is,” she then told me, “I was reading the paper a while ago, and I came upon a report that black holes are now reported to emit sounds. And that the sound emitted is … B flat!”It sounded too good to be true, but when I returned home and Googled the matter, it seemed to be quite true.Google “black hole” and “B flat” and you get 3,500 entries with evocative titles such as (and these are the top three on the Google stack):“Black hole sings the deepest B-flat”—MSNBC“Black Hole Strikes DeepestMusical Note Ever Heard”— space.com“Black hole hums B flat”—BBC News.A couple of qualifications: It’s not clear that all black holes emit the B-flat sound. (And the B flat, by the way, is the B flat 57 octaves below middle C). But there’s this one ginormous black hole in the Perseus cluster of galaxies, 250 light-years from here, that seems to have been humming B flat for 2.5 billion years!That’s one lonely, sad-sounding, one-note black hole.It conjures up the ultimate vision of universal cosmic sadness: a universe of black holes humming sadly to each other from behind their event horizons. Sadness built into the very structure of the cosmos, sorrow woven into the fabric of space-time.
The above link is valid as of today, but the story is sure to be archived after that. If I can find a permanent link, I'll add it in the comments section.
I love this story. I mean, didn't you just know that it's sorrow, not love, that's built into the deep structure of this sad old world?