I suspect that most of you have heard of the so-called “Mozart Effect”. That listening to classical music, and Mozart in particular, enhances brain function and can increase intelligence—even for the not-yet born. (link to the Wikipedia article) There are even special sound systems for a sort of elevator music experience for unborns (the link is not an endorsement).
And the “Moozart Effect” [sic] has been credited with higher production rates in dairy cows.
But it seems that maybe Mozart is good even for more basic life forms than human fetuses or cows. A recent article in The Guardian newspaper (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jun/02/sewage-mozart-germany) says that the director of a sewage plant here in Germany is playing Mozart operas to the sludge. I quote:
Anton Stucki, Swiss-born chief operator of the sewage centre in Treuenbrietzen, an hour south-west of Berlin, believes the chords and cadences of the compositions speed up the way the organisms work and lead to a quicker breakdown of biomass.
“We think the secret is in the vibrations of the music, which penetrate everything – including the water, the sewage and the cells. It creates a certain resonance that stimulates the microbes and helps them to work better. We’re still in the test phase, but I’ve already noticed that the sewage breakdown is more efficient,” he said.
He goes on to say that the preferred opera is The Magic Flute. So, Zauberflöte fans, it seems we’re in good company!