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Saturday, 01 November 2014

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Cumbrian scientist invents machine to talk to dolphins

A Cumbrian scientist believes that we may soon be able to speak to dolphins – with his new invention which translates their clicking into words.

John Reid photo
John Reid with his Cymascope at his workshops near Keswick

Acoustics engineer John Stuart Reid, of St John’s-in-the-Vale, near Keswick, believes his Cymascope represents a “significant breakthrough” in the study of dolphin communication.

Mr Reid said: “Until now the complexity of a dolphin’s speech has been virtually impossible to translate. The Cymascope can pinpoint the structure of sound and simplify this into a basic pattern of speech.”

Mr Reid has been working on the invention for over a year and believes that an understanding of the dolphin language can be built up within the next two years.

He has been working in conjunction with Florida-based dolphin researcher Jack Kassewitz in an attempt to convert the sounds of dolphins into pictures.

“We will begin by translating the basic verbs and nouns” he explained.“We can then aim to translate the sounds into conversation.

“No other device has given us a visual impression of sound.

“The Cymascope can be used in many different fields as it gives you an image of the sound being made – like a fingerprint”.

Past research into dolphin communication has been extensive but relatively limited in its results. Some experts believe that the Cymascope only represents a contribution to the research already done, rather than a valuable extension of it.

However, Mr Reid is aware of the many problems that have faced researchers in the past.

Mr Reid said: “The brain of a dolphin is the same size of that of a human but a dolphin’s auditory processing is a lot bigger than a humans.

“While a human can only hear sounds of around 20,000 Hertz, a dolphin is capable of hearing up to 200,000 Hertz.

“Most researchers have used spectrographs to try and decipher the sounds but the Cymascope will allow us to decipher the meanings in the speech patterns for the first time,” he added.

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