The Blind Astrophysicist


Friday, May 06, 2011

Astrophysicist Wanda Diaz Astrophysicist Wanda Diaz (Courtesy of Wanda Diaz)

Astronomers used to believe in something called “the music of the spheres” — they thought that planets and stars created harmonies as they traveled through the skies. These days, astronomy is mostly a matter of visual data expressed in charts and graphs. That won’t work for Wanda Diaz, an astrophysicist from Puerto Rico. She’s blind, and working on new ways to measure and represent what’s going on in outer space. Her technique may help those of us who can see, as well. Produced by Ari Epstein.

Bonus Track: Astronomical Music

Listen to a short excerpt of astronomical data converted into synthesized music.


Wanda uses a graph marked with Braille tags on a pegboard to plot the intensity of light versus frequency for a spiral galaxy. She can figure out the mass of the galaxy by calculating the area under the curve.
(Courtesy of Wanda Diaz)

    Music Playlist
  • Incidental Music
    Artist: Wanda Diaz
    Label: Produced using the Xsonify software


Ari Epstein

Comments [7]

Miguel Alonso from san juan puerto rico

Estoy tratando de localizarte wanda ya no estoy trabajando en el perpetuo socorro es el meteorologo miguel alonso aue tenia a cargo un grupo de estudiantes de esc superior de geofisica y radiosstronomia tengo unos proyectos de investigacion y wuisoera tener ti opinion me alegre mucho saber de ti por medio de un companero que le afisiona la astronomia saludos y Dios te bendiga siempre
Miguel Alonso
Mi telefono es el 7875652851
Y mi email es

Mar. 02 2014 09:08 PM
Alex from DC

Yes ! I want to listen of Wanda's work too ! It sounds so amazing !

Jan. 10 2014 06:25 PM

Very cool! I recently worked on something similar to audify a time-series of supernovae:

May. 23 2011 11:15 PM
Carrie Mae Rose from NYC

Thank you! Has Wanda or your team heard of the artist duo Semiconductor? They created a soundtrack to NASA photos in 2006 that highlights the hidden forces at play upon the solar surface, by directly translating areas of intensity within the image brightness into layers of audio manipulation and radio frequencies. Video here:

May. 13 2011 12:38 AM

Hi Carrie Mae,

Ari Epstein, who produced the story, passed along some "data music" created by Wanda. It's just a short excerpt, but we posted it as a bonus track for you to listen to.

May. 11 2011 02:54 PM
Carrie Mae Rose from NYC

Fascinating interview!! I loved it. I want to learn more about the software and where I can listen to more 'Music From the Spheres' of the NASA data translated to music...

May. 08 2011 12:49 PM
sandra diax

Wanda is the definition of determination and intelligence. Im proud of her.

May. 07 2011 04:24 PM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.