Noise is a widely recognized problem and health concern in the modern world. Given the importance of managing ise levels and developing suitable 'soundscapes' in contexts such as industry, schools, or public spaces, this is an area of active research for acousticians. But ise, in the sense of dissonance, can also be used positively; composers have employed it from Baroque music to Rock feedback; medicine harnesses it to shatter kidney stones and treat cancer; and even the military uses it in (real and rumoured) weapons. Mike Goldsmith looks back at the long history of the battle between people and ise - a battle that has changed our lives and moulded our societies. He investigates how increasing ise levels relate to human progress, from the clatter of wheels on cobbles to the sound of heavy machinery; he explains how our scientific understanding of sound and hearing has developed; and he looks at ise in nature, including the remarkable ways in which some animals, such as shrimps, use ise as a weapon or to catch prey. He concludes by turning to the future, discussing the ise sources which are likely to dominate it and the ways in which new science and new ideas may change the way our future will sound.
Mike Goldsmith has a PhD in astrophysics from Keele University, awarded for research into variable supergiant stars and cosmic dust formation. From 1987 until 2007 he worked in the Acoustics Group at the UK's National Physical Laboratory and was Head of the group for many years. His work there included research into automatic speech recognition, human speech patterns, environmental noise, and novel microphones. He continues to work with NPL on a freelance basis and has recently lead a three-year project to develop a new type of environmental noise mapping system. He has published over 40 scientific papers and technical reports, and since 1999, he has written over 30 science books for readers from babies to adults. Two of his books have been short-listed for the Aventis prize (now the Royal Society prize) for science books.