An Algorithm That Synthesizes the Soothing Gurgles of Virtual Water

Harmonic modeling of fluids creates liquid you actually want to get in your computer

The world certainly isn't simple, and trying to express real-world dynamics in the form of an equation has long been a challenge. Realistic computer-simulated sound has been particularly tough to get right, and some of the hardest dynamics to recreate have been the movements and sound of water.

Scientists at Cornell have now announced a system that can look at a 3-D motion rendering of water--waves, drops, anything--and algorithmically create the dribbles, gurgles and plops it would be sounding, were it in fact real.

I'll let the researchers describe the technology themselves. I think you'll understand why I'm leaving it to them:

"Sound radiation from harmonic fluid vibrations is modeled using a time-varying linear superposition of bubble oscillators. We weight each oscillator by its bubble-to-ear acoustic transfer function, which is modeled as a discrete Green's function of the Helmholtz equation. To solve potentially millions of 3D Helmholtz problems, we propose a fast dual-domain multipole boundary-integral solver, with cost linear in the complexity of the fluid domain's boundary."

In as many words: hyper-complex software that on its own re-creates an element of the natural world. Look for realistic-sounding synthetic liquids coming to a Michael Bay special effects scene or fly-fishing simulator near you, soon.