Extra Credit - Sound and Science - Esteban Torres

Extra Credit Blog – Sound and Science Symposium - Esteban Torres

Cymatics: Bringing Matter To Life With Sound by Dr. Hans Jenny


            On Thursday March 5, 2009, I attended the movie screening of Bringing Matter to Life with Sound.  The film seemed to be a fairly old and low budget video recording, less focused on entertaining an audience and more focused on the subject matter at hand.  The film showed several different substances and the way in which these reacted to sound vibrations.  It would have been more interesting to observe these phenomena in real life, because the film version of it was actually incredibly dull.  I was surprised to see so many people inside this room, on a beautiful Thursday afternoon, watching the vibrations of particles on a screen. 

            Some of the things they showed for example were the vibration of particles of iron when exposed to sound waves.  They almost seemed as if they were dancing.  As the vibrations increased in frequency, creating a crescendo, the pulsations would be faster and more violent.  We would observe this sort of behavior with all of the different materials, how when the vibration frequencies increased, so would the reaction of the particles increase. 

            However, for the most part, particles reacted very differently from each other.  Lycopodium for example would have this sort of volcanic-like eruption.  Material would flow outwards from the center and then circle back in from the outside.  Another substance would do the exact opposite.  The material would flow from the outside and in towards the center.  

          violin2  I really did not enjoy this movie screening.  It was incredibly boring and painful to watch.  The fascinating part is how there are some people who are fascinated by this sort of thing.  It just goes to show how our different interests drive us towards different pursuits, and also how important and wonderful it is that we actually have such diverse interests.  If we all had similar interests, all of the great things we have accomplished would be impossible.  For example, think of a Hollywood film.  There is so much involved in the making of a film.  From all the technology behind all the equipment: sound, visual, effects, software, hardware.  And then the artistic parts of the film such as writing, acting, directing, music.  Everything is interconnected.  The skill of the violinists doing the score would be impossible without the science of sound and acoustics that made such an instrument possible.  And without the passion for music, such an instrument would have never been dreamed of. 

            I veered from the topic of particles vibrating to sound waves, but going to this symposium did make me realize that although I might be looking at this video saying: this is completely useless, the science performed in this video might have a huge impact on my own personal interests in some way or another.  Similar to our talk of the two cultures, I think it is imperative for us to understand that we need each other and we need this diversity of interests and intellectual pursuits to do the great things that humans are capable of doing.  

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