You may be like me, and so vuvuzelas may be a new discovery for you. As those of you who have not been stranded in a cave for the past few days will know, vuvuzelas are horns commonly used in South Africa to make a lot of noise at sporting events. As of 2006, Wikipedia gave the following short definition:
‘An air horn, approximately 1 metre in length, made from plastic and commonly seen at South African soccer matches. The name is said to originate from the Zulu for “making noise” although this is disputed. (Others say the name originates from the fact it makes a “vuvu” sound when blown or comes from the township slang related to the word for “shower”).’
OK, but if you look at the Wikipedia entry today you’ll find a rather longer definition and lots of commentary. In fact, these (usually plastic) instruments can create a rather unpleasant, monotonous sound, and because absolutely everyone in South Africa has them and blows into them constantly they create a very loud buzzing noise throughout matches, including the current matches in the World Cup. People have been complaining about them, including people who want to watch World Cup matches on the television.
Well, I’m glad that DCU’s translational research ethos (i.e. research that will benefit the community) is alive and well. My colleague Sean Marlow, from the Faculty of Engineering and Computing, has done some quick work and come up with a way in which the broadcasters can significantly reduce the noise of the vuvuzelas. He has passed on his research findings to RTE, and we now hope that the results will quickly become, er, inaudible.
Who says we don’t have a smart economy?