The sound of air pollution: PhD student Gabriel Isaacman creates soundscapes from smog

September 11, 2012

Written by Aaraon Reuben and Gabriel Isaacman for The Atlantic


Oakland's Caldecott Tunnel (allaboutgeorge/Flickr)


In the flat lands of California's Central Valley, oil pumps obscured by waving lines of fuel-richened air dip and rise on the horizon. Two hundred miles to the north and west, aging eighteen-wheelers pound through an urban bypass tunnel, staining the walls black with diesel fumes. Farther to the north, High Sierra pines scent the mountain air with notes of cinnamon and nutmeg, sending blue wisps of haze trailing gently upward.

Air is not the same everywhere. Across the extremes of the human environment, in both urban areas and wild, powerful natural and human forces combine to create intricate mixtures of chemicals that compose the air we breathe, seek for pleasure, or avoid. And now that air is made audible.

Read the rest of the article


The Sounds of Air Pollution:

The Caldecott Tunnel, Oakland, CA

Bakersfield, California

Pasadena, California

The High Sierras


Aaron Reuben is a freelance journalist and researcher at the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy. He is co-founder of Armchair / Shotgun, a Brooklyn-based literary-arts journal, and is the former editor in chief of SAGE Magazine. Gabriel Isaacman is a doctoral student at the University of California, Berkeley, in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy, and Management. He was formerly an educator at the Exploratorium, a museum of science, art, and human perception in San Francisco, California.

Originally published in The Atlantic