Binaural Beats Experimentation

For the last few days, I’ve been running a few tests on myself as part of an effort to cure my chronic insomnia. For the last few months or so, the insomnia has gotten quite bad to the point that I’ve spent a day or two without any sleep at all and spent the day immediately afterward in what seemed like perpetual aggravation. I’m not sure of the efficacy of binaural beats as there are many conflicting sources all over the place so I started off doing some tests on myself to see if they work.


I tried testing a couple of headphones first. My trusty JVC HA-RX300 which I’ve had for years and take everywhere and a new set, a Sennheiser HD280 Pro.

I have a tiny head (contrary to what I’ve been told repeatedly) and the HD280 felt a tad too big, but it produced the best range of sound so far. The RX300 seemed to struggle with the lower frequencies and I often had to increase the volume to the point distortions began to appear.

In my search for binaural tracks, I came across a vast swath of very shrill and harsh samples that I felt were the wrong fit for me. Plus some of them gave me a pretty severe headache after a couple of minutes of listening. Some even gave me a nauseous feeling and that’s definitely a sleep killer. I figured I’d write myself (and anyone else listening) a little disclaimer before going about this.

When listening, please ensure the volume starts low as high levels may cause permanent damage to your hearing. Use a pair of good quality headphones (circumaural, noise-cancelling preferred) which can reproduce frequency responses between at least 25Hz – 10,000Hz and that are light and fit comfortably.

Do not engage in intensive exercises immediately following a listening session.

If any dizziness, light-headed sensation or nauseous feeling were to occur, stop listening immediately, take a sip of cool water and lay down.

This track is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat any illness or physiological or psychological condition.

Now I just needed to create those tracks.

Binaural selection

Rather than creating one track and hoping for the best, I tried creating a selection starting with the lowest frequency I’m comfortable with. According to Wikipedia, the human hearing range starts at 20Hz so I decided to create a base frequency binaural track at 30Hz (to accommodate us mere mortals before catering to the superhuman).

The 30Hz track was OK at first, but that too became uncomfortable at the 5 minute mark. I think maybe the volume was a bit too high for me at the time, but it soon felt like someone was squeezing my head. I then went on to 50Hz, 70Hz, 90Hz and finally 110Hz. The 110Hz turned out to be more comfortable than the rest, but your experience may differ. Considering I haven’t figured out the correct volume yet and the HD280 hasn’t been “broken in” (audiophiles and detractors, please hold your flaming) I’ll need to experiment more.

I wanted to create a pure tonal track of at least 2 hours to start off. I felt 2 hours was the upper limit in duration to preserve my hearing and sanity. Your experience may vary considerably depending on the volume, the headset, the ambiance of your listening room, the amount of fluids you’ve had etc… Try to start slowly if you intend to follow along in these experiments with me.

I intend to try out non traditional approaches to this whole binaural thing and may go with alternating (left to right sweep) white noise to approach the mythical 1/2Hz Goldilocks Zone of “sensory resonance” if that has any benefit at all. Who knows, this kind of experimentation may become a new hobby. I’ll keep adding to this playlist as the experimentation goes on.

Our solar team sets a hot and steamy world record

Originally posted on News @ CSIRO:

The run of sunny weather we’ve had in south-eastern Australia over the last few weeks has been breaking quite a few records – and not just on the weather charts.

A team of solar thermal engineers and scientists at our Energy Centre in Newcastle have used the ample sunlight flooding their solar fields to create what’s called ‘supercritical’ steam – an ultra-hot, ultra-pressurised steam that’s used to drive the world’s most advanced power plant turbines – at the highest levels of temperature and pressure EVER recorded with solar power.


The heliostat array, as viewed from Solar Tower 2.

They used heat from the sun, reflected off a field of heliostats (or mirrors) and concentrated onto a central receiver point to create the steam at these supercritical levels. The achievement is being described in the same terms as breaking the sound barrier, so impressive are its possible implications for solar thermal…

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What Does a Neural Network Actually Do?

Originally posted on Some Thoughts on a Mysterious Universe:

There has been a lot of renewed interest lately in neural networks (NNs) due to their popularity as a model for deep learning architectures (there are non-NN based deep learning approaches based on sum-products networks and support vector machines with deep kernels, among others). Perhaps due to their loose analogy with biological brains, the behavior of neural networks has acquired an almost mystical status. This is compounded by the fact that theoretical analysis of multilayer perceptrons (one of the most common architectures) remains very limited, although the situation is gradually improving. To gain an intuitive understanding of what a learning algorithm does, I usually like to think about its representational power, as this provides insight into what can, if not necessarily what does, happen inside the algorithm to solve a given problem. I will do this here for the case of multilayer perceptrons. By the end…

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Kleinhaus: Cabin progress

Just a heads up that I’m still not dead and the cabin designs are progressing well, albeit a tiny bit slowly, since the last time I posted an actual design update. I’ve since named this whole cabin project “Kleinhaus” (German for “Small house” — I thought it was pretty clever). I moved away from fancy pure-Photoshop footwork to basic drawing and then scanning followed by a Photoshop cleanup. I found this to be a tad easier and I’ve had lots of helpful suggestions from folks since I started this journey. Many thanks to all of you.

2 Sheets done (hopefully)

The following are sheets 3 and 4 of the overall blueprint which detail the foundation. I’m still working on the elevation views and floor plan and the overall shape of the cabin has changed a bit to accommodate some much needed design overhauls. Gone are the weird 21-24-21 joist spacing of the first layout. This time, it’s all 24″ on center joists for simplicity and my own sanity. I did away with starting from estimates and then moving on to measuring and instead started with concrete measurements first. I found that this makes more sense since it’s harder to skew corners or screw up the lengths on paper. That doesn’t mean these are free of errors and you should go ahead and start with these measurements without double-checking!

These are only 1200 x 1623 full size, but the actual image I’m working with is 5620 x 7600 pixels (18.73 x 25.33 inches at 300 pixels/inch) which is a tad too large to post here. I’m going to make the full size blueprints available as a PDF or something as soon as I finish and correct any errors.

As always, these are provided as-is. Always check the measurements first, follow local building codes, there be dragons etc… etc…

Kleinhaus 16x16 Cabin: Sheet 3

Kleinhaus 16×16 Cabin: Sheet 3

Kleinhaus 16x16 Cabin: Sheet 4

Kleinhaus 16×16 Cabin: Sheet 4