Sound Sphere

OU programme explores the science of sound

In a two-part BBC series, broadcaster and physicist, Dr Helen Czerski, reveals what the physics of sound can tell us about the world and how it works.

Produced in partnership with the OU, and broadcast on BBC Four from Thursday 2 March 2017, 21:00, Sound Waves: The Symphony of Physics explores the extremes of the sonic spectrum and how sound has the potential to solve the great mysteries of the Universe.

Episode one explores what sound is, including a visit to “Big Ben”, and the science of singing with soprano, Lesley Garrett CBE. Dr Czerski climbs the summit of one of Europe’s most active volcanoes to detect sounds beyond the range of human hearing. Episode two focuses on the complicated way our ears translate sound waves – a physical vibration in the air – into electrical signals in the brain. Dr Czerski demonstrates sound waves bending around objects, which enables us to locate danger.

Academic consultant on the programme and Head of Engineering and Innovation at The Open University, Professor David Sharp, said:

The programme explores the sounds that we all experience in our day-to-day lives, as well as those that are more unusual. Audiences will embark on a journey of sound, taking in some extreme acoustic environments, from one of the quietest places on our planet, to one of the most reverberant spaces.

The first episode will be broadcast on BBC Four from Thursday 2 March 2017, 21:00.

For related courses and to learn more about the science of sound, visit our free online learning platform, OpenLearn:


Commissioned for The Open University by Dr Caroline Ogilvie

Nominated Academics:

Head of Engineering and Innovation, Professor David Sharp

Senior Lecturer in Engineering and Innovation, Dr Shahram Taherzadeh

Media Fellow:

Ian Johnston (STEM)

Broadcast Project Manager:

Amie Nimmo

Online Project Producer:

Freyja Taylor-Law