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At the age of eleven, Peter D'Amato ordered a Venus flytrap from Famous Monsters magazine; thus began a lifetime of cultivating carnivorous plants. His small apartment became an urban jungle, so he moved to Sebastopol, California, the home of California Carnivores, where he grows and sells hundreds of other-worldly plants whose traps range from those small enough to capture protozoa to those big enough to contain a rodent. Peter D'Amato of California Carnivores describes how a pitcher plant gets insects drunk and then devours them. He also cuts open a plant to find the insects trapped within and to show "what ravenous, gluttonous pigs these plants can be." Peter D'Amato of California Carnivores gives us a guided tour of the Venus Flytrap, one of the world's best-known carnivorous plants. Sonoma Valley farmer Bob Cannard doesn't fight nature: he collaborates with it. The result is bountiful fields of healthy, beautiful plants, some of which end up in the kitchen at Alice Waters' Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, California. Here Bob speaks eloquently about appreciating and respecting nature. As he says, "it's simple...it's all right there before you." Bob Cannard, a Sonoma Valley farmer explains how compost is generated, both by nature and by human gardeners. Cannard creates a special compost 'tea' to use on his bountiful crops Mike Wiltberger, magnetospheric physicist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, narrates this artist’s rendering of a coronal mass ejecting from the sun and then impacting the earth’s magnetic field. Animation produced by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. On the occasion of Hubble's 15th birthday we unveil two spectacular mosaic images from the telescope, discuss the amazing accomplishments of Hubble during the past 15 years, and look at some of the images from space. Celebrate the spring equinox at the Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá, in the state of Yucatan, Mexico. The alignment of the sun on this day creates the appearance of a shadow, in the form of a serpent, that descends the main staircase of the great pyramid. The Live@Exploratorium crew is there to capture the snake on film and to speak with local archaeologists, archeoastronomers, and solar scientists about this amazing phenomenon. If you’ve ever gone to hear an orchestra play, you know that the performance begins only after a session of tuning. An oft-repeated story tells of a visiting foreigner attending a concert in Paris. Afterwards, when asked which part of the performance he liked best, he replied, “The beginning, just before the man with the stick came in.”
Tuning means adjusting the pitch of an instrument. The pitch of a sound depends on its frequency, the number of vibrations per second that produce the sound. For example, plucking a cello string might cause it to vibrate back and forth 200 times each second. You hear that sound as a low pitch of 200 cycles per second, or 200 hertz.
An orchestra tunes itself to a very particular frequency, usually 440 hertz, a note known as A 440. The note is played by the oboist, and the rest of the orchestra tunes their instruments to match it. The oboe leads the tuning because of all the instruments, it is least affected by humidity or other weather conditions. Music is more than meets the ears directly. Just as no sound exists in a vacuum, every space sculpts the sound within it. Like a site-specific equalizer, reflections, absorption, and resonances combine to give each venue a unique acoustic stamp.
A subway tunnel is “live” space, rich with reverberations that trap and reflect sound in a well of hard tile. True to their name, “dead” spaces do nothing: The only sound heard is what travels directly from instrument to ear. An open field is the ultimate dead space.
As you follow this wandering riff, listen to the changes wrought by environment. Distance is also a factor here—the sound you hear is recorded from the camera’s vantage. Which spaces sound live? Which sound dead? Do the acoustic changes affect the feeling of the music?
Saxophonist Michael Pearce plays with the Highwater Blues Band in the San Francisco Bay Area.