UK-based acoustics engineer John Reid has been working on a machine for a decade that may be able to translate dolphin talk in much the same way that we decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics. Called the Cymascope, the device analyzes the noises the mammals make and shapes them into a map of reproducible sound patterns, termed CymaGlyphs.
"Until now the complexity of a dolphin's speech has been virtually impossible to translate," Reid told the News & Star. "The Cymascope can pinpoint the structure of sound and simplify this into a basic pattern of speech."
His Cymascope uses a basin of water monitored by a video camera, and a few other odds and ends, including sand, brass plates and a violin bow. "What we're going to do is excite the water by introducing the whale song, then look at what happens on the TV monitor," Reid said, speaking to The Sun. "What you see is the image of the sound."
So, is he just doing this because he couldn't get enough of Darwin from Sea Quest DSV or Jones from Johnny Mnemonic? "Our ultimate aim," Reid said, "is to speak to dolphins with a basic vocabulary of dolphin sounds and to understand their responses."