Christian Long

Evan Grant: Cymatics

In TED Talks on April 29, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Extra credit reflection by HERSH T.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Evan Grant:  Cymatics

Boom!

A metal plate with sand on it suddenly changes place with just the application of sound through it. What is going on? The magic of Cymatics is at work. When I hear a sound, if it a sound that is not exactly pleasant, than it literally feels as though it is grinding on my ears. And when I hear a pleasant sound, I can feel my ears relaxing. We also know that sound is literally waves of particles that produce the sound through vibrations. However, what happens when all of a sudden we place that sound on a substance that can change shape easily. Then we can see that sound actually causes a pattern to emerge.

Sound has a shape!

What is that shape? Well the incredible variety of sounds also allows for an incredible variety of shapes. The fantastic images that emerge are shapes that are not easily created by hand. And, on top of that, the shapes are so perfect that it is hard to imagine how sound does that. For example,

That amazing pattern emerges when nothing but sound is added. And it is nothing but sand on top. We would imagine that the sand would either fall off, or not be affected at all or something, but no! The sand actually takes a pattern which is an incredibly highly mathematic pattern. Of course, we knew all along that nature was complex, but this complexity astounds even the most hardened nature veteran. Of course, when we take something so complicated and begin to understand it, it will always raise more questions. The most prevalent one, posed by Mr. Grant, is that if we can see that sound has such a profound effect on matter at such a low level, than when the universe was created, did the sound level affect the way the universe was arranged?

And before the thought that this is just a curious little science that on the side one can study, let me give you a little history of the people who had been Cymatologists. First and foremost, welcome Mr. Leonardo Da Vinci, and of course if that isn’t enough there’s Galileo. So this science has a backing of not only interesting ideas, but some of the most prominent intellectuals of the human race have also been interested in Cymatics. Which means, although it doesn’t have to, that this is no just fun slightly childish field of science. Cymatics can hold unprecedented rewards if only we could delve into it.

Cymatics complicates according to the level of sound that is played around it. So for example, just vibrations would produce the pattern above. And certain sounds can allow the sand or water to imitate natural things such as snowflakes and starfish. But, when a segment of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony was played, the water looked like this,

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