Stay Inspired #008

At Quantum we believe it’s our role to inspire you, by doing this we create emotion and motivate people to take action. We thought it would be good to share some of the things that inspire us.

After coming across a series of experiments by Nigel Stanford, I’d like to do something a bit different in this post and focus on one subject, but one with boundless possibilities, especially to those of us in the industry of creating sensually immersive experiences: Cymatics, the science of visualizing audio frequencies.

Typically, a flat surface, diaphragm or membrane is vibrated, and regions of maximum and minimum displacement are made visible in a thin coating of sand, liquid or can be displayed in a digital form. This creates different patterns depending on the geometry of the plate and the driving frequency.

The most common experiment is a metal plate covered in sand and attached to a speaker – this is called a Chladni Plate. Different audio frequencies resonate the plate and this bounces the sand around on the surface creating beautifully random and symmetrical patterns.

Another stunning creation from Nigel is the Ferro Fluid, it contains nanoparticles of iron in an oil which makes it magnetic. This creates this really alien-like liquid which when activated with electromagnets forms geometrical liquid shapes. In the experiment, they linked these to a keyboard with specific notes which meant that the liquid could perform on demand.

We all know that everything is more exciting when it’s on fire and the Ruben’s Tube is no different! It looks like a graphic equaliser made of small flames. Propane is fed into the tube which has one end blocked off and the other end has a piece of latex over it. When tones are played that match the resonant frequency of the tube, it forms high and low pressure zones of gas and this affects the height of the flame.

Due to the speed at which some of the frequencies vibrate, a lot of Cymatics are invisible to the naked eye, simply because they vibrate too fast so something called a CymaScope is used.

The CymaScope uses a high definition camera to monitor the effect of an individual sound’s particular vibrations on purified water. Due to the high surface tension of the water, the harmonics of a particular sound create a unique imprint – and just like snowflakes, no two sounds are alike.