A Japanese laboratory claims to have recreated the voices of the Mona Lisa and Leonardo da Vinci using "methods employed in criminal investigations", Physorg.com reports.
It's all pretty simple: the Japan Acoustic Lab "analyzed the skeletal structures of the historical figures' faces" and extrapolated the dulcite tones from there. Lab supremo Matsumi Suzuki explains on the MS Japan website (in Japanese, natch): "We believe we were able to create the voices that are very close to the real voices. Perhaps it was really how they really sounded."
Hmmm. Here's how former police engineer Suzuki created the audio Mona Lisa. First up, he estimated her height at 168cm (5' 6"), giving her "a relatively low tone for a woman". He admits: "We cannot tell exactly how tall she was. So we analyzed the length of her right middle finger" as well as factoring in the average height of Italian women. Ms Lisa also get a nasal tone "because of her relatively large nose".
As for Leo, Suzuki reckoned he was around 60 when he painted the Mona Lisa, so he used the famous self portrait of the bearded artist as a basis for his calculations. However, Suzuki admits: "Because the beard covers his jaws in his portrait, we could not tell his exact skeletal features. We assumed that he had a heavy-jowled face, giving him a nice, bass tone."
Enough. We should note at this point that Suzuki has in the past "collaborated with Japanese toy maker Takara Co. to create the smash-hit Bowlingual, which is said to interpret dog language" which in 2002 secured him a 2002 Ig Nobel Prize for "promoting peace and harmony between the species". ®
Actually, this is not quite as daft as it sounds. We recall a project some time back which sought to recreate the voices of Roman plasterers by analysing the ridges caused by their banter in wet plaster as they dragged their floats across the surface. The idea caused quite a bit of excitement in the academic community, although the only full sentence ever deciphered was from a villa in East Londinium, comprising a muffled: "Lucius, bring me another bucket of muck sharpish you fu*king muppet..."