Phantom Signals: Erroneous Perception Observed During The Audification Of Radio Astronomy Data
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This paper describes the work in progress of an investigation into utilizing audification techniques upon radio astronomy data, generated by the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). The proposed system involves subjects listening to the data presented as background noise. The initial tests established that subjects are able to detect the presence of simulated signals when presented with white noise; however it was observed that there were significant reports of signals that were not present in the test files. Subjects regularly reported perceiving these “phantom signals”. Further experimentation confirmed that phantoms were reported when listeners were presented with pure white noise and were asked to identify signals with this data. Exposing subjects to examples of potential signals prior to the test has a heavy influence on the prevalence and sonic characteristics of the illusory signals reported.