According To Science, Rock n' Roll Really Is Noise Pollution

July 16, 2018

AC/DC made the hypothesis that "Rock and Roll Ain't Noise Pollution." But based on a biological study by Mississippi State University assistant professor Brandon Barton, his finding seem to differ.

Taking AC/DC's statement to heart, Barton wanted to see if science could back it up. The experiment involved taking Asian lady beetles (aka Ladybugs) and placing them in environments with soybeans infested with aphids, which are common prey for the beetles. Various kinds of sounds and music were then played into each of the environments and the researchers would measure the soybeans' biomass and the number of aphids remaining.

On top of playing AC/DC's "Back In Black," some of the other environments had songs by hard rock bands like Lynyrd Skynrd, Metallica, and Guns N' Roses, while others were treated to country music like Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Tomball Glasser, British folk band Warble Fly, and common urban sounds like jackhammers and airplanes.

Unfortunately for AC/DC, Barton's findings were in direct opposition to their song's official statement. The enviroments that were exposed to hard rock music included many more aphids remaining versus the environments that were not. “In the one with the AC/DC blasting, the predators didn’t control the aphids, and I think we ended up with something like 180 aphids per plant on average,” Barton said of the experiment. “That many aphids on one plant is enough to actually hurt the plant, so we saw a reduction in the plant biomass. The AC/DC indirectly reduced soybean production.”

Barton believes that the loud music must have served as the sounds of a predator or other external factor that prevented the ladybugs from hunting. "But it could also be that the music just makes it harder to catch an aphid,” adds Barton.

Once the volume was turned down, the ladybugs' hunting habits returned to normal.

Barton concluded that, “I don’t think anybody’s actually concerned about rock and roll affecting soybeans,” Barton said. “The idea is the proof of concept that noise pollution can affect soybeans. We used rock and roll, but it could be the noises from cities encroaching into agricultural landscapes, highways, tractors.”

“When you perturb or change one thing in the system, one species is affected, every other species can potentially be affected.”

Perhaps the ladybugs would have better luck listening to the Beatles, Scorpions, Papa Roach or some Alien Ant Farm instead.