This lecture will be about the science of acoustics, the study of sound, in relation to urban environments such as cities.
As an acoustic engineer myself, I think this is an area where we're likely to see great changes.
In the past, researching urban soundscapes was simple.
We measured levels of sound in decibels, so I used to take my sound meter and I measured the noise somewhere,
and then I might ask a sample of people to say at what level the sound became annoying.
With data like this, acoustic engineers have been able to build up what we call noise maps, maps of the sound environment.
But actually these aren't a lot of use.
What they do show is that the highest noise levels are generally on roads - well, that's not really very surprising.
But there's quite a lot going on that these maps don't show, because they can't capture the complex way that sound varies over time.
So they ignore important issues such as the noise someone might hear from the open windows or gardens of their neighbours,
and this sort of noise can be quite significant in summer.
We don't have any databases on this sort of information.
As well as that, these records of sound levels take no account of the fact that people vary in their perceptions of noise
so someone like me with years of working in acoustics might be very different from you in that regard.
But anyway, even though these noise maps are fairly crude,
they've been useful in providing information and raising awareness that noise matters,
we need to deal with it and so it's a political matter.
And that's important - we need rules and regulations because noise can cause all sorts of problems.
Those of you who are city-dwellers know that things go on 24 hours a day, so city-dwellers often suffer from interrupted sleep.
It's also known that noise can lead to a rise in levels of stress,
due to physical changes in the body affecting the composition of the blood.
And there are other problems as well, for instance if schoolchildren don't have a quiet place to study, their work will suffer.
Now one problem with decibel measurement is that it doesn't differentiate between different types of noise.
Some types of sounds that most people would probably think of as nice and relaxing might well score quite highly in decibel levels
think of the sound made by a fountain in a town square, for example.
That's not necessarily something that we'd want to control or reduce.
So maybe researchers should consider these sorts of sounds in urban design.
This is going to be tricky because just measuring decibel levels isn't going to help us here.
Instead, many researchers are using social science techniques,
studying people's emotional response to sound by using questionnaires and so on.