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Darragh McManus on radio: Get ready to hear the T-Rex roar back into life

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Schoolchildren look at a lifelike animatronics display of a dinosaur at the dinosaur-themed Zoo-rassic Park in Singapore. ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty

Schoolchildren look at a lifelike animatronics display of a dinosaur at the dinosaur-themed Zoo-rassic Park in Singapore. ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty

Schoolchildren look at a lifelike animatronics display of a dinosaur at the dinosaur-themed Zoo-rassic Park in Singapore. ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty

The Earth is 4.6 billion years old. Life has existed for something like three billion of those. People — as in us and our homo sapiens ancestors — have been around roughly 200,000 years.

And for almost all that time, as heard on Seriously… (BBC Radio 4, podcast), sound was “a fleeting, unrepeatable live show”. Until the last century or so, there was no way of recording it: everything was heard once, or not at all.

Nowadays, of course, we have all manner of clever gizmos and doodads for not only capturing sound, but creating it — or recreating it. In this documentary, The Lost Sounds Orchestra, anthropologist Mary-Ann Ochota explored how some clever people are resurrecting this “lost world” of sounds.

Be they musicians, scientists and historians, they are reconstructing a T-Rex roar by studying fossils of early birds, bringing 1920s New York to life by combining audio and video archive and, perhaps most intriguingly, using something called “data sonification” to turn information into sound.

Computer modelling renders vibrations in the Earth’s atmosphere, or within volcanoes as something we can hear. It’s reminiscent of a JG Ballard story about “singing” sculptures, which capture the wind in certain ways to produce spectral wailing noises: eerie yet kind of beautiful at the same time.

Writer and psychologist Adam Grant spoke a lot of sense to Tom Dunne, filling in on Moncrieff (Newstalk, Mon-Fri 2pm). The American was discussing his book, Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, which partly addresses a major problem of our time: the increasing balkanisation of opinion, especially in politics.

Among other solid suggestions for, well, making the world a slightly better place, he made this insightful observation: “You can rarely force someone to change their mind — what you can do is help them to find their own reasons for changing.”

Having said that, he also pointed out that, if the metaphorical shop which is another person’s mind is completely closed, “you might as well knock on a different door”.

Cormac Ó hEadhra couldn’t entirely suppress a chuckle as he reported (Drivetime, Radio 1, Mon-Fri 4.30pm) how new research from a Turkish clinic found that cheesy 1980s pop songs “are the most likely music to reduce anxiety and improve your mood”.

Wham!, Queen, Duran Duran, Katrina and the Waves etc — much better for the mind and soul than an endless diet of doom-mongering news or, indeed, those painfully earnest Hozier-type dirges.

DJ Simon Maher commented: “I wasn’t surprised. Eighties music is great for cheering yourself up. So often it’s not just the song, it’s the memory you associated with it.”

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