Newswise — Perfect pitch, dolphin communication, and noise in the community and in nature are just some of the intriguing topics that will be presented at the 164th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA).

The meeting will take place October 22-26, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo., at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown Hotel. The ASA offers complimentary press registration to bona fide working journalists; see details below. Journalists also may remotely access meeting information with ASA’s World Wide Press Room, which will go live one week before the meeting.

More than 1,300 papers will be delivered at this premier international meeting of scientific, environmental, and biological acoustics. Preliminary meeting highlights follow.


Dolphins Use ‘Packets’ of Broadband Clicks:For long-range echolocation, dolphins may emit a burst, or “packet,” of several clicks. Researchers explore the conditions that prompt dolphins to use this “broadband” style of communication.

Perfect Pitch and a Clue to Its Genesis:Perfect pitch is very rare in North America and Europe, and its genesis is unclear. New findings suggest that there is a genetic component of perfect pitch.

Reducing the Sting in Baseball Bats:For many, the “crack” of a baseball bat heralds the start of spring and evokes the excitement of the sport. For the batter, however, a poorly hit ball can produce a significant stinging sensation. Various vibration damping applications to ease that sting will be examined.

Musical and Lexical Tones by Musicians and Non-musicians:This study explores musical and linguistic pitch perception and what they tell us about the relationship between music and speech.

Proximity to Airports and Climate Region Affect Indoor Noise Levels:Current aircraft noise guidelines are based primarily on outdoor sound levels. Interior noise levels are also important and may be correlated with construction materials typically used in different climates.


Space Acoustics: Sound Waves in Planetary Exploration:Saturn’s moon Titan is the only moon in our entire solar system with a dense atmosphere and hydrocarbon seas. The proposed Titan Mare Explorer (TiME) mission would use an acoustic depth-sounder to learn more about this intriguing body and what lies hidden beneath its surface.

Training Adult Learners of English to Hear the Sounds of English:One of the greatest challenges to learning a second language is acquiring the ability to distinguish individual words. A new system may help learners develop near-native performance in recognizing English speech sounds.

Jurassic Acoustics:Global temperatures affect the pH of seawater, which in turn changes the ocean’s ability to absorb sounds. Based on that premise, Earth’s oceans today likely absorb sounds in much the same way they would have 300 million years ago. Global warming, with its accompanying change in pH, may cause sound absorption to decrease to a level similar to when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth 100 million years ago.

Sound Propagation through Flames: Disorientation is a major cause of firefighter death and injury. A proposed acoustic navigation system would use sonar to penetrate the obscured environment of a fire, helping rescuers navigate in these treacherous conditions.

Transducer May Permanently Monitor Pipelines for Corrosion:Guided Wave Testing of pipelines helps identify potential areas of corrosion. After initial testing, permanently attached transducers would allow for improved and continuous monitoring of pipeline corrosion.


Is the Ocean Getting Louder?:Ocean noise is a concern because it may mask biologically significant sounds. A new study speculates that ocean noise may have decreased due to industrial whaling and fishing, but that the characteristics of a noise source may have more bearing than the ambient noise levels.

Ultrasound Offers Comparison between Normal and Cancerous Prostate Cells:Ultrasound plays an important role in helping diagnose prostate cancer. By better characterizing normal and cancerous prostate cells, and not the actual tumor, a new study enhances the potential of ultrasound as a diagnostic tool.

Running and the Impact of a Runner’s Footstep on the Inner Sole of the Shoe:Research reveals new understanding of the biomechanics of human footsteps and the subsequent wave energy that is transferred into the ground or track surface.

Thermoacoustic Device for Nuclear Fuel Monitoring:The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster demonstrated the need for self-powered sensors that could monitor the status of fuel rods. One possible solution is the use of a thermoacoustic standing wave engine that could be incorporated into a fuel rod. The engine’s resonance frequency would correlate to the fuel rod’s temperature.


The Nature and Perception of Human Musical Rhythms:Computer-generated beat patterns are “too perfect,” and listeners perceive the lack of a human touch. Built-in humanizing units, which are essentially random number generators, produce only simple fluctuations. New research explores the long-range fluctuations of human musical performances.

Earthquakes and Infrasound:Earthquakes can generate complex seismic and low-frequency acoustical waves. Researchers have modeled the generation of infrasound from seismic events, giving more insights into the dynamics of earthquakes.

The Evolution of Musical Instruments:Natural selection also drives the evolution of musical instruments, and that process continues today.

Speaker Sex Comes after the Vowel: Men and women say the same vowel with very different voices. Knowing if the speaker is a male or a female can facilitate vowel recognition, but new research suggests that – at very short stimulus durations – speaker sex has little impact upon vowel recognition.


Effects of Short Noise Bursts on Human Performance and Perception:Noise is distracting, even short noise bursts. Human subjects exposed to noise lasting just a fraction of a second were tested to see if these brief bursts had any impact on their ability to perform arithmetic tasks.

Effect of Parkinson’s Disease on Speech:Parkinson’s disease leads to tremors and difficulty with movement and coordination. It also affects precision in articulating words. Researchers have measured this effect and compared it to non-Parkinson’s speakers.


The Kansas City Marriott Downtown Hotel is located at 200 West 12th Street, Kansas City, Missouri, 64105. The hotel main numbers are: 816-421-6800; fax: 816-855-4418.

USEFUL LINKSMain meeting website: Abstract Database: site:

WORLD WIDE PRESS ROOMIn the coming weeks, ASA's World Wide Press Room ( will be updated with additional tips on dozens of newsworthy stories and with lay-language papers, which are 300-1200 word summaries of presentations written by scientists for a general audience and accompanied by photos, audio, and video.

PRESS REGISTRATIONASA will grant free registration to credentialed full-time journalists and professional freelance journalists working on assignment for major news outlets. If you are a reporter and would like to attend, contact Charles E. Blue ([email protected], 301-209-3091), who can also help with setting up interviews and obtaining images, sound clips, or background information.

****************************This news release was prepared for the Acoustical Society of America (ASA) by the American Institute of Physics (AIP).

ABOUT THE ACOUSTICAL SOCIETY OF AMERICAThe Acoustical Society of America (ASA) is the premier international scientific society in acoustics devoted to the science and technology of sound. Its 7,000 members worldwide represent a broad spectrum of the study of acoustics. ASA publications include The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (the world's leading journal on acoustics), Acoustics Today magazine, ECHOES newsletter, books, and standards on acoustics. The Society also holds two major scientific meetings each year. For more information about ASA, visit our website at

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164th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America