Marconi believed, late on in life, that no sound ever dies completely. He dreamt of building a device strong enough to pick up the actual words of Jesus at the ‘Sermon on the Mount’.

Viva Voce

PERFECTING SOUND FOREVER: An Aural History of Recorded Music. Greg Milner. x + 416 pp. Faber and Faber, 2009. $35.

The story goes that, late in his life, Guglielmo Marconi had an epiphany. The godfather of radio technology decided that no sound ever dies. It just decays beyond the point that we can detect it with our ears. Any sound was forever recoverable, he believed, with the right device. His dream was to build one powerful enough to pick up Christ’s Sermon on the Mount.

Thus begins Perfecting Sound Forever, Greg Milner’s cultural and technological history of the sound-recording industry. As far as I know, the original-cast album of the Sermon on the Mount has not yet been released on CD, but plenty of acoustic waves emitted in … Continue Reading (7 minute read)

8 thoughts on “Marconi believed, late on in life, that no sound ever dies completely. He dreamt of building a device strong enough to pick up the actual words of Jesus at the ‘Sermon on the Mount’.”

  1. ViskerRatio

    The reason this doesn’t work is due to something called “noisy channel coding theory”, which demonstrates – under certain assumptions – that there is a limit to the information content of a signal in any environment with noise (the path from the millennia-old Sermon on the Mount and a modern listener certainly qualifies).

    However, the mathematical basis for this wasn’t demonstrate until decades after Marconi dreamed.

  2. rb6k

    Imagine if he was right and suddenly every thing you’ve ever said can be heard by an app on your phone just by going back to the place you said it and turning the volume and frequency to the right place.

    All those times I told my wife I didn’t hear her and she claims I responded/agreed at the time would become very interesting. One of us is wrong! (It’s probably me!)

  3. blewsyboy

    I just watched Devs from FX, I can’t say anything so as not to spoil it, but watch it.

  4. Wingnut150

    Marconi plays the mamba

    Listen to the radio…

  5. starchild527

    I read Macaroni and was confused.

  6. luckdragonbelle

    And that was the start of The Listening Monks. All Haill Terey Pratchett xz

  7. jevring

    Sometimes you have to mix in a little crazy with your genius

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