It’s a different kind of echo in the metro

Written by Staff Writer On a recent road trip, we were listening to the audio version of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s “Summer Celebration” concert, which we listened to together, listening to every note that…

It's a different kind of echo in the metro

Written by Staff Writer

On a recent road trip, we were listening to the audio version of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s “Summer Celebration” concert, which we listened to together, listening to every note that the orchestra played. We got to a particularly emotional moment of Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 (Klavier Lieder). It’s a classic kind of orchestral piece, which, despite its richness of tone, is a slightly difficult piece to hear because it requires the listener to be aware of sound coming from every corner of the room. It’s this intensity of sound that makes it such a compelling piece to listen to with the right setting and attention.

If you find it difficult to bring out the full depth of tone in the symphony, there’s one auditory cue that you’re always guaranteed: hearing the echoes in the deep spaces of your headphones.

For decades, it was this echo that led us to believe that the metro service in our city was operating, and that airplanes were taking off and landing. Metro transportation, we thought, was anonymous noise.

Then, in 2016, we heard another part of the symphony that exposed us to other frequencies. The noisy cylinder that had been sitting in our radio room for decades began to crackle and crackle, and sparkle, in our web browser. It had been transmitting the vivid colors of the earth’s atmosphere.

Those clicks, we realized, were the distant echoes of an electromagnetic wave that had been generated by an isotope of carbon in our air. The COVID-19 isotope is one of several produced when hydrogen is heated to high temperatures. It occurs in the same places where the highest concentrations of carbon dioxide and methane are found in the atmosphere, and this is where the first traces of COVID-19 were found in the environment — in both the atmosphere and in our air. The evaporation of carbon from the atmosphere releases COVID-19 and reacts with other chemicals in the atmosphere, releasing electrons into the cell phones of plants.

This particular trace occurred in Russia in the 1950s, and it was associated with elevated levels of methane. Last year, scientists announced that they had identified a whole suite of highly special carbon isotopes that formed part of the Metro service and the oft-repeated sounds of airplanes.

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