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Nov 5, 2021

Yes, you can see sounds — it’s called cymatics

Posted by in category: futurism

If the alcohol percentage in the glass allows it, let us look at what happens inside the glass. A slight, constant rubbing of the rim can cause a pretty big storm. Droplets detach from the smooth surface of the drink and rhythmically bob up and down, while the troubled waves bounce off the see-through sides. The whole show creates dynamic forms and shapes that depend on the frequency of the sound, which is sensitive to the smallest caress of the fingertip. Stories about rubbing genie lamps only gained academic interest in the 1970s. The field of research that studies the shape of sound waves became known as However, sound waves and the effect they have on matter had become an object of fascination long before that.

When glasses were clinking at the Philadelphia Convention in 1,787 to celebrate the signing of the Constitution, 6,505 kilometres away in the town of Lipsk amateurs of various scientific curiosities were avidly reading Entdeckungen über die Theorie des Klanges (Discoveries in the Theory of Sound), written by Ernst Chladni, a lawyer, geologist, inventor, designer and acoustician. This exemplary son of a law professor graduated in the same field of study as his father, on Dad’s orders. Nevertheless, the heir dreamed of a different future. He waited for his father to pass on, then abandoned paragraphs in favour of his fantasies – sound experiments – without remorse. Admittedly, it was too late to go for the career of a musician, but the young man’s proclivity for performing slowly became more and more apparent. Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni was sucked into a whirlwind of soundwaves for good. He toured all over Europe, amazing his audiences (and Napoleon himself) with various sound shows and instruments of his own making. His signature moves must have inspired the jealousy of local illusionists. Chladni proved that sound can be seen, and developed his own technique of visualizing vibrations on a metal plate. He produced images that were never dreamed of, even in philosophy.

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