You’re probably best known as “Dr. John Lilly, the dolphin man.” What is the aim of your current dolphin research?
At Marine World, we’re working with computers to develop a human/dolphin code, analogous to the Morse code used in telegraphy. The project is called JANUS — for Joint Analog Numerical Understanding System. Like the Roman god Janus, it has two “faces” — a dolphin side and a human side.
A human/dolphin language must contend with the fact that dolphins communicate at frequencies ten times above the human range. While our speech falls between three hundred and three thousand hertz, or cycles per second. dolphins talk to one another underwater at frequencies from three thousand to thirty thousand hertz. If you go into a pool with a dolphin and he starts whistling, you’ll hear what sounds like very high-pitched squeaks. So the problem is to bring their frequency down into our sound window and ours up into theirs.
We’re using a computer system to transmit sounds underwater to the dolphins. A computer is electrical energy oscillating at particular frequencies, which can vary. and we use a transducer to convert the electrical waveforms into acoustical energy. You could translate the waveforms into any kind of sound you like: human speech, dolphin-like clicks, whatever.
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