Radio receiver science can be explained as follows:
The air carries sounds. With no interference on our part, sound oscillates, a set of waves moving up and down and around corners and occasionally through walls, intersecting and destroying and amplifying other waves as it goes. The waves are forever competing for the attention of an audience, albeit unknowingly; the overall effect is layers upon layers of white noise, gray noise and static. Only sometimes do they whisper in your ear or shout from across the quad.
Into the static, you poke a long, thin wire, the insulation peeled back with the sharp side of a pair of scissors; call it an antenna. When you do so, a current will begin to dance to the rhythms of the waves, back and forth as they crash continually through the metal, switching directions with each passing moment. The copper may glint, but the wire will not move.
We claim to speak the language of the electron with near fluency; you are, at this point, almost done. Pick an electric jive to tune to and pull the small sound at the corners until it stretches and swells and fills the space, amplifying it as you would your own voice through cupped hands.
Now, all you have to do to listen.
The Voice Issue is akin to a paper-and-ink receiver. The articles published here attempt to chronicle some part of the collective voice of a student body, and they do so with a self-awareness that no piece of electronic equipment could ever attain. When two things vibrate with corresponding frequencies, they amplify one another. The result is a louder sound than either object would make on its own. This is known as resonance; as in, to resonate.
The writers in the issue of Cipher treat voice as both object and subject, means of analysis and thing to be analyzed, phenomenon and record thereof. Among the signals to pick from: Catherine Sinow interviewing a professional animal conversationalist, page seven; Andrea More discussing Yidd-ishness and the Silicon Valley, page 10; Charlotte Allyn chronicling the abbreviated voice of a poet, page 17 and Sarah Hamilton mapping the topography of nuclear land, page 40.
There are more to be found, but you’ll have to fiddle with the dials yourself.
Olivia Chandrasekhar and the Cipher editors