Mystery solved: Trees make sounds when they fall

Now we know. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, it does make a sound. So reports Wisconsin stream ecologist Martin Melchior, whose research is published this month in the Annals of Improbable Research.

I used directional microphones, professional electronic audio recording equipment, personal observation, and some very inexpensive young assistants, to monitor the accumulation of large woody debris in old-growth forests of northern Wisconsin from June 1999 through July 2001.

I hired an impoverished undergraduate student to collect nearly 20,000 hours of audio/video tape in scenic areas in the Chequamegon and Nicolet National Forests. Video footage was collected with a Hitachi Z900 video camera and audio data was collected using a Shure SM58 microphone and three Shure DM 25 directional microphones with parabolic collector dishes. Recordings were made on a Tascam 850 8-track digital recorder and Yamaha 16-channel mixing board.

I made this impoverished undergraduate watch all of the tapes and make a record of every instance in which large woody debris fell to the forest floor.

He found that it does. Here’s the entire issue. Good luck getting past the instructions on how to host a Roman orgy.

  • John P.

    Now if someone would get to work on that “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” thing we would have all of the mysteries solved.

  • Tyler

    I think Martin Melchoir missed the point.

    …and those poor undergrads.