PhysicsWorld -Red Lips

  1. tell us what the image is (hopefully there is a caption or explanation in the magazine)

physicsworldThis is the January 2015 cover of “Physics World” magazine. issue looks at the challenges of synthesizing artificial human voices, explores the little-known Jesuits who boosted astronomy in China in the 17th century and, has two exclusive interviews with Fabiola Gianotti, who takes over from Rolf-Dieter Heuer as director-general of the CERN particle-physics lab early next year, and with Mark Levinson, the former physicist who directed the film Particle Fever about what particle physicists get up to. The cover itself is of red lips “talking” and red words that say “Synthesizing speech”.

  1. tell us your own thoughts.

My first reaction to this image is to stare at the extremely contrasted red lips. They instantly bring me back to the memories of older films and movies. Back in the mid 1900’s women were not sexualized as much as they are today, even though they were still seen as “sex symbols” in media. But the ads were of ladies dressed extremely fancy and most often wearing bright red lipstick. Especially in the old war movies I have seen the “hot girlfriend” wearing the bright red lipstick. Once I read the words on the cover, “Synthesizing speech”, then the cover starts to make sense. I start to think about the GPS devices, talking to you as you drive. And the multiple different choices of automated voices. The most popular voices are those of a “soft spoken woman” or an “elegant women”. Now I see that the red lips are still being used as a “sexual symbol” but denoting the voice as being the elegant spoken automated voice.

  1. tell us the reaction from the stranger.

I see two colors, Red and Grey. You can only make out the teeth because of how bright and vibrant the lips are. I do not see how this cover has anything to do with speech. The mouth is just stuck open and there is not much of a color scheme. Also the lips are real lips, but the page says “synthesizing Speech”. When I asked him how it was making him feel, he said “I really don’t know. Mostly just confused as what they were thinking when they made this cover.”

  1. tell us about the stranger (male? female? approximate age? major? or anything else you find interesting about the person)

-Alan Welch, male, undergraduate Chemical Engineer, 22 years old. Met in the Computer lab, showed him the image on the computer so he could see the colors, printed out the image for the picture that’s why it is black and white.

  1. how did your reaction differ or was it similar to the stranger?

Comparing the two opinions on this image, I see two major differences. One, Alan must not have seen the older war movies I have seen growing up. Two, he also did not make the connection between GPS and synthesized voices, so I must assume he hasn’t heard those voices. Or possibly just was so confused/focused on the odd image and trying to figure that out that he never really tried to look deeper into the meeting. Myself on the other

  1. post the photo img_1012
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One thought on “PhysicsWorld -Red Lips

  1. I think it is very interesting that the cover would involve red women’s lips to represent the connection to synthesized speech like a GPS voice. I think that I am more similar to Alan’s reaction than I was to yours though! I think that the idea of synthesized speech is a very interesting physics topic and is an article that would be interesting to read! However, I do not think that the visual of the lips represent a strong connection between the two topics. If I were to think about synthesized voices, my mind would go more towards a more technological image and not the realistic lips that are shown.

    I will be honest, I would not have known that synthesized speech was talking about the voices as heard on GPS or Siri had you not said it in your post. I actually had no clue what it was trying to say on the cover when I first looked at the image alone. Because I could not understand and Alan could not as well, I do not believe that the magazine did a very good job trying to easily display the information to the reader.

    In general, technology that has improved so drastically in science that has allowed for the voice programs to sound so real and to have so much room for what they can say is astounding. however, I believe that a better visual representation of this success and progress could be portrayed on the front cover.

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