Cell Sounds – Death
Music; Ambience: 86 degree yeast cell song
JM: It’s widely thought that with death comes silence. Well – no! I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Coming up – the sound of death. UCLA’s Dr. Jim Gimzewski recently discovered that the motion within yeast cells produces a sound you can listen to, if it’s highly amplified. Now, after performing various tests on these living cells-raising their temperature to see if the pitch of their “voices” changed-Gimzewski decided it was time for more extreme measures.
JG: “The last experiment we did was we killed the cell. Sounds cruel? But we killed it in a very specific way. So we treated it with a drug, which essentially switches off the fuel that drives the cell. And when we did that, indeed, the sound stopped. And it was replaced by another type of sound, a hissing sound, which is not a sound relating to life. It’s the sound of death, if you like.”
JM: “What you hear now is the sound of death.”
JG: “So when switch off the energy source for the cell, what we actually hear is there is no silence in nature at this level. At this level, there is always a sound. And it is essentially, the sound of the world we live in; it is just the motion of molecules. The vibrations are random; it’s just molecules bouncing around.”
JM: No human cells were harmed in the creation of this radio program. But, by analyzing the sound of a dying yeast cell, Gimzewski is working towards an understanding of cellular sound that he hopes could translate to the cells of the human body. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.