The Swoosh is a Lie

99% Invisible Podcast

From the delightful 99% Invisible podcast, I learned today that many televised sporting events use pre-recorded audio samples to fake a sense of realism. When you watch at least some sports on television, particularly those that cover large areas, the swoosh of a cross-country skier, the splash of a rower’s paddle, or the thundering stampede of horse racing, may be coming from a sound designer’s sampler rather than the atheletes you’re seeing on screen.

Like most episodes of 99% Invisible, this Sound of Sport episode is only 5 minutes long, well produced, and fascinating. Since learning about 99% Invisible from the also-delightful RadioLab podcast, I’ve almost caught up on all 44 (so far) episodes. Highly recommended.

While we’re enjoying podcasts, the Planet Money podcast somehow manages to make the world of economics interesting to those of us who are completely uninterested in economics.


Map of Nuclear Explosions

This animated map of nuclear explosions from 1945 to 1998 is remarkable to watch. Note how France and England both have extensive tests, but none on their own mainland. Watch through to the end to see an overlay of all explosions. Since this animation was compiled, North Korea has conducted two nuclear explosions.

According to an article from Scientific American about the idea of using a nuclear explosion to seal the Gulf of Mexico leak, the Soviet Union regularly used nuclear explosions for domestic projects:

The Soviet program, known as Nuclear Explosions for the National Economy, was launched in 1958. The project saw 124 nuclear explosions for such tasks as digging canals and reservoirs, creating underground storage caverns for natural gas and toxic waste, exploiting oil and gas deposits and sealing gas leaks. It was finally mothballed by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989.


Things I Didn’t Know: Liberal Arts

Why is a “Liberal Arts degree” is called “Liberal”. I had wondered if and how it might be related to political liberalism. It turns out, it’s not.

According to the Wikipedia, the Liberal Arts are so called because:

In classical antiquity, the liberal arts denoted the education proper to a free man (Latin: liberus, “free”), unlike the education proper to a slave.

I did not know that.