A chirping sound from the Indies short-tailed cricket is perfectly perceptible on the October 12, 2017 recording revealed by The Associated Press, as the “sonic tone” which corresponds to the wave that affected the health of some consular employees of the Embassy of the United States in Havana.
This conclusion is part of a work published on January 5, 2019 by Carl Zimmer, from The New York Times, which refers to the conclusions of the entomologists Alexander Stubbs of the University of California at Berkeley and Fernando Montealegre-Z of the University of Lincoln in England, who studied the sounds recording made by diplomats and published by The Associated Press.
With the same extreme care as pointed out in the original material printed on page A 6 of the New York newspaper, the determination of the explanation of sounds in the recording does not deny that the diplomats were not attacked.
It is important to point out that diplomatic officers may have been attacked with an unknown weapon in Havana, but the recording of a “sound attack” is “the sound of a very loud cricket”.
History of the recording
According to an AP publication dated October 12, 2017, the news agency obtained a sound recording perceived by some of the US embassy employees in Havana. They were part of a set of unexplained phenomena that were eventually considered deliberate attacks.
Journalists Josh Lederman and Michael wrote on that date that the sound samples taken in Cuba made the researchers initially suspect of a sonic weapon.
AP explained that ther recordings were sent for to the US Navy and to intelligence agencies for acoustic sound analysis. However, the recordings had not shed light on what was damaging the diplomats.
In November 2016 US diplomats in Cuba complained of persistent and acute sounds followed by a series of symptoms, including headaches, nausea and hearing loss.
Tests of nearly two dozen of them revealed signs of concussion or other brain injuries.
Speculation about the cause created the hypothesis of weapons that emit an explosive sound or microwave. In the midst of an international uproar, a recording of the sinister “droning” circulated widely in the media.
A phone call to Mr. Stubbs
The New York Times telephoned Alexander Stubbs, who belongs to to the Integrative Biology laboratory and to the Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at the University of California Berkeley.
The scientist said that“There’s plenty of debate in the medical community over what, if any, physical damage there is to these individuals,”. “All I can say fairly definitively is that the A.P.-released recording is of a cricket, and we think we know what species it is.”
According to a Carl Zimmer note, Mr. Stubbs presented the results of the analysis at the annual meeting of the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology
He and Dr. Montealegre-Z also posted an early version of their study online. They plan to submit the paper to a scientific journal in the next few days.
To search for a match, the researchers analyzed field recordings of North American insects stored in an online database at the University of Florida. They found a striking resemblance to one species in particular: the Indies short-tailed cricket.
Yet the cricket’s song differs from the Cuban recording in one important respect. The noises heard by the diplomats were erratic, while the insects make high-pitched, rapid-fire pulses.
Mr. Stubbs suspected that this mismatch might be an artifact of the recording itself. Diplomats made their recordings inside houses, while biologists have recorded the crickets in the wild.
With this information, Mr. Stubbs played the cricket recording in a house. As the calls bounced off the walls, they echoed in a pattern similar to the irregular pulses heard on the Cuban recording.
The song of the Indies short-tailed cricket “matches, in nuanced detail, the A.P. recording in duration, pulse repetition rate, power spectrum, pulse rate stability, and oscillations per pulse,” the scientists wrote in their analysis.
Experts on cricket songs said the analysis was well done.
“It all seems to make sense,” said Gerald Pollack of McGill University, who studies acoustic communication among insects. “It’s a pretty well supported hypothesis.”
Translated: by José Espinoza