When we think about a way to represent sound in a visual form, most of us probably picture those volume-dependent sine waves. But this is not what this man has sound pictures: John Stuart patented something called a CymaScope. And Mr Stu uses it to help us learn more about how animals like dolphins communicate among each others.

The CymaScope contains a thin film of water, a sort of membrane. Sound, even at frequencies humans can’t hear,is directed at the water. In turn, the water vibrates in response, and a camera records the vibration. The end result is a spherical image of sound patterns.

Working with Jack Kassewitz, a dolphin researcher in Florida, they made recordings of dolphins in specific situations: for instance, what he knows to be distress calls from a variety of individual animals. Those calls have been imaged with the help of the CymaScope.

It might sound like too far-fetched, but the two men believe these sound images will provide a library of what one might call dolphin words. Which could in the future let us communicate with them with their own vocabulary.
I wonder what they will tell us…Maybe the ones in captivity will say: “thank you for the fish but now, it is time for us to go”.