Sophie is joined in the theatre by chirping crickets, hissing cockroaches and groaning deer to reveal the very different ways that animals have adapted their bodies to send audible messages that are vital to their species. She also explores how and why the human voice evolved to become the most versatile sound producer in the natural world. She demonstrates what sound actually is and how it travels. Unpacking the power behind sound, she uses it to shatter glass and reveal how the human body can resonate in a way that amplifies our voices to send our messages further. She also explores how different species use very different frequencies to communicate and why humans can only hear a fraction of these animal messages. Finally, she investigates why we all have unique vocal prints, and how computers are learning to recognise these.
1/3 • Royal Institution Christmas Lectures: The Language of Life • 2017 • Nature
On 12th September 2015, a 30-ton humpback whale breached and landed on Tom Mustill and his friend Charlotte Kinloch as they paddled a sea kayak in Monterey Bay, California. Incredibly, both survived the incident, but the near-death experience haunted documentary maker Tom and left him wondering if the whale was deliberately trying to hurt them. To find the answer, Tom returned to California in 2018 to investigate. Tom meets those who have survived similar hair-raising encounters and the experts who know the whales best. What he discovers raises far bigger questions, not just about what happened that day but also about our relationship with whales and their future alongside us.