The Science of Cymatics
In the beginning there was… the “word” (sound)… light… “nothing”… or, perhaps, “everything”?
This is a relatively long post about the Science of Cymatics, one that I’m particularly excited about and believe that it’s really worth your time. Cymatics constantly holds new advancements in research and science which provides for extremely interesting learning, leading to many new and innovative solutions we need in “Modern Times”.
Hardly did I find a subject this much intriguing to write about — perhaps as it’s quintessential for any aspiring Polymath to study, given that it touches so many different fields, including archeology, architecture, health & medicine, art & music, quantum physics and even the core behavior of the elements themselves. I hope you’ll be inspired, so let’s get started!
Have you heard of the father of acoustics, Ernst Chladni?
More than two centuries ago, his pioneering research on vibrating plates led to some amazing scientific breakthroughs, many which still push our boundaries and inspire further discoveries in the field of cymatics today.
“Chladni's law” relates the frequency of modes of vibration for flat surfaces with a fixed center as a function of the numbers m of diametric (linear) nodes and n of radial (circular) nodes. In the equation
C and p are coefficients which depend on the properties of the plate which are linked to the principles of vibration and sound.
Chladni invented a technique to show vibrational patterns on a rigid surface, now known as so-called “Chladni plates”. First published in 1787 in his book Entdeckungen über die Theorie des Klanges ("Discoveries in the Theory of Sound"), he had repeated the pioneering experiments of Robert Hooke who ran a violin bow along the edge of a plate sprinkled with a fine dust of flour or sand.
The plates were bowed until they reached resonance and the vibration caused the particles to move and concentrate along the nodal lines where the surface is still, essentially shaping sound in a visually structured form:
“The book of nature which we have to read is written by the finger of God.”
— Michael Faraday
Similar patterns to those which can be seen on Chladni Plates are also found by assembling microscale materials on Faraday’s non linear standing waves:
Faraday is important for the evolution of cymatics as he realized the visual appearance not only on plates, but on liquids enclosed by a vibrating receptacle.
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This is relevant as when the vibration frequency exceeds a critical value, the flat hydrostatic surface becomes unstable. Faraday waves also explain the 'fountain' phenomenon on a singing bowl:
It’s rather peculiar that the Faraday wave is analogous to the de Broglie wave in its wavelength of the De Broglie–Bohm theory in the field of quantum mechanics and that the Chladni figures are related to the solutions of the Schrödinger equation for one-electron atoms (and that the mathematics describing them were used by Schrödinger to arrive at the understanding of electron orbitals):
One could argue that this field alone holds huge potential for the future unification of the theory of everything, something the Mereon Matrix is trying to achieve with the help of cymatics.
“If I were in school today and didn’t know what to study, I’d probably make cymatics one of my top choices, given all the research and the immense opportunities in all the arts and sciences it touches.” — Toby Ruckert
"If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration." — Nikola Tesla
Cymatics is yet to be discovered for its potential in materializing music — not just through sound, but by essentially touching on all elements that surround us.
Nigel Stanford has done a fantastic presentation “Science vs. Music” which is thought provoking and worth watching:
“Music is liquid architecture; architecture is frozen music” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“Cymatics” — The Study of Wave Phenomena
His books “Cymatics 1” and “Cymatics 2” are rare gems to come by and if there is a chance to own them, I would jump at it.
Jenny took Chladi’s work to the next level and studied the effects of sound vibrations on fluids, powders and liquid paste. His final conclusion was that different forms of matter shaped by sound vibrations
"are not an unregulated chaos; it is a dynamic but ordered pattern."
You can find more interviews with Hans Jenny on the Internet Archive.
"Architecture is geometry made visible in the same sense that music is number made audible." — Claude F. Bragdon