December 3, 2021

I, Science

The science magazine of Imperial College

Have you ever wondered what your voice might sound like on another planet? A team of scientists working at the University of Southampton have used mathematical and physical tools taking into account atmospheres, pressure and fluid dynamics to produce the natural sounds of other worlds, including thunder, human voices, whirlwinds, probe splashdowns and waterfalls.

The team was led by Professor Tim Leighton, who explains the difference in pitch between two of the different versions of human voice recorded below. “On Venus, the pitch of your voice would become much deeper…because the planet’s dense atmosphere means that the vocal cords vibrate more slowly through this ‘gassy soup’. However, the speed of sound in the atmosphere on Venus is much faster than it is on Earth, and this tricks the way our brain interprets the size of a speaker. When we hear a voice from Venus, we think the speaker is small, but with a deep bass voice. On Venus, humans sound like bass Smurfs.”

Below are different versions of a human voice, simulated to account for differences between the planets. The differences may initially seem small, but a second listen to the Earth-bound human voice reveals greater changes than initially heard. Feel free to leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.

Voice on Earth

Voice on Mars

Voice on Saturn’s moon Titan

Voice on Venus

The researchers also simulated what thunder might sound like on Mars and Venus – producing sounds more akin to an electrical storm than the traditional sounds we might expect here on Earth.

Thunder on Mars

Thunder on Venus

These sounds will be added to the ‘Flight Through the Universe’ shows at the Astrium Planetarium at INTECH near Winchester, and are thought to be a world first. Show dates are 4, 5, 11 and 13 April.

Many thanks to the research team and the University of Southampton’s media centre for sharing the above audio clips with us.

Image: Wikimedia Commons