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Rocket Scientist Makes Breakthrough In 3D Audio

Rocket Scientist Makes Breakthrough In 3D Audio (photo)

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Edgar Choueiri’s day job is engineering work on plasma rockets for spacecraft, something that was science fiction just 20 years ago. As Princeton University’s Director of Electric Propulsion and Plasma Dynamics Laboratory, he toils in a propulsion lab on engine technology destined for NASA (and the Russian space program), but after hours he’s been making breakthroughs in 3D audio — first inspired by wanting to hear Bach reproduced perfectly through speakers. He’s developed a way to truly render sound in three dimensions, samples of which you can hear below.

Best of all, Choueiri has achieved this through the use of a digital filter that can work on any stereo recording, played through any pair of speakers — even the ones on your computer. Though, you will obviously get better results with better speakers. Tinny speakers, are tinny speakers. Listening to the broadcast, I was mildly impressed by the bird and water sounds, but when they played “Money” by Pink Floyd, the depth was incredibly apparent. Music never sounded so alive on the eight year old computer speakers I was listening to it on.

Hear for yourself, listen to the full broadcast, “Adventures in 3D Sound,” on Studio 360:

[Head to about 5:30 for the water and birds, and 6:50 if you want to hear the Pink Floyd bit.]

So what, don’t we already have surround sound, you ask? Choueiri explains that surround sound just envelops you in sound with lots of hardware, it doesn’t attempt to “reconstruct a 3D audio image,” or true natural sound. His breakthrough is with software, using an algorithm that makes stereo playback so lifelike, it simulates actually being there — whether that’s a fly buzzing around your head in 360 degrees or the reproduction of a Bach symphony so real, you can point out the direction in the room where the viola player would be sitting. Next stop for this technology: Hollywood.

Check out the video “The Science Behind 3D Sound” on Studio 360 for an in depth look at the technology. And here’s a 3D Audio Demonstration featuring water lapping on a shore so real you may have to jump in it.

3D Audio Demonstration for Speakers (not headphones).

For best results, sit in front of your computer speakers so that your ears are equidistant from the left and right speakers. You may also want to fix yourself an umbrella drink. Note: Apple MacBooks suffer from an internal audio design flaw that may prevent you from experiencing the effect of Choueiri’s 3D Sound.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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