This recording is a product of a glissando of sound waves that the team sent through a carefully controlled gas of elementary particles known as fermions. The pitches that can be heard are the particular frequencies at which the gas resonates like a plucked string.
The researchers analyzed thousands of sound waves traveling through this gas, to measure its “sound diffusion,” or how quickly sound dissipates in the gas, which is related directly to a material’s viscosity, or internal friction.
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