How to do Cymatics Experiment

how cymatics work and what is cymatics in physics and what's the meaning of cymatics and how to cymatics experiment and how to make cymatics experiment
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Dr.MattWood,United States,Teacher
Published Date:25-07-2017
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1 Problems of Cymatics Whenever we look in Nature, animate or inanimate, we see widespread evidence of periodic systems. These systems show a continuously repeated change from one set of conditions to another, opposite set. This repetition of polar phases occurs alike in systematized and patterned elements and in processes and series of events. A few physiological examples may be men- tioned in brief. The great systems of circulation and respiration are virtually controlled by such natural periods or rhythms. Inspiration and expiration of the lungs, systole and diastole of the heart are only these basic rhythmic processes writ large. In the nervous system the impulses occur serially and may therefore be described as frequencies. Much the same applies to the active muscle system which is actually in a state of constant vibration. The more closely one examines these functions, the more evident do these recur- rent sequences become. Events then, do not take place in a continuous sequence, in a straight line, but are in a continual state of constant vibra- tion, oscillation, undulation and pulsation. This also holds true for system- atized structures. On the largest and smallest scale, we find serial elements, repetitive patterns — and the number of fiber stromata, space lattices, and reticulations is legion. If we turn our eyes to the great natural domains, period- icity expands to include the ocean itself. The whole vegetable kingdom, for instance, is a gigantic example of recurrent elements, an endless formation of tissues on a macroscopic, microscopic and election microscopic scale. Indeed, there is something of a periodic nature in the very concept of a tissue. Again, periodic rhythms are a dominant feature of the animal kingdom. The metamer- ism of the various phyla is a case in point. It is the operation of this law that gives many worms, arthropods and vertebrates their special characteristics. 17 From one specific point in the development of the germ onwards, the prin- ciple of organization is repeated on a grand scale in the segments. Every system is affected: skeletal, muscular, nervous, vascular, renal system, etc. But this principle is most clearly seen in the cellular character of organisms. Organs are not homogeneous masses, but tissues of the utmost delicacy which go on developing and repeating themselves indefinitely. Linked up with this is the sequence of generations, invariably a regular sequence of alternat- ing polar-like phases. Even conditions inside the cell — the processes of cell division and the mechanics of the gene systems — are subject to this prin- ciple of oscillation. However natural these things may seem, they are. in fact, not. It must be realized that this periodicity represents an aspect of the world, and at first its mysteriousness always inspires a feeling of the greatest aston- ishment. In organisms, of course, we then find pure oscillatory phenomena rising to a higher plane in the formation of sound; and language itself appears on a still higher plane within this same field. If an inventory were to be drawn up of periodic phenomena in the realm of the organic, it would have to include the whole scope of morphology and physiology, biology and histology. But we must not forget the inorganic world. In this field we shall merely mention some typical examples recalling known facts, with particular reference to physics. Here we encounter vibrations in a pure form, more specifically in waves. In the vast spectrum extending from gamma radiation, through the ultraviolet and visible light to infrared (heat rays), to electric waves (microwaves and radio waves), we have a field which may be termed periodic in the purest sense of the word. Then there are waves in the various states of matter, acoustic vibrations, ultrasound and hypersonics. Again, the lattice structures of matter in the crystalline state are also periodic. Periodic structure is a salient principle in say. the space lattices of mineralogy. What insights into vibration and periodicity have been gained in the vast range extending from the cosmic systems (rotations, pulsations, turbulences, circulations, plasma oscillations, periodicity of many kinds in both constituent elements and the whole) down to the world of atomic or even nuclear physics (shell model of nucleus; nucleon structure: organization of meson clouds) Here again, the idea of periodicity is all-embracing. The few examples we have given here will serve as sign- posts. But to reveal the systematic, universal character of periodic phe- nomenology a great deal would, of course, have to be added: structural chem- istry, colloidal chemistry, phenomena of mechanical tension such as appear in the isochromatic and isoclinic fringes of photoelasticity, and all the families of associated trajectories, to name only a few examples. Also of interest here is the problem of matter waves (L. de Broglie). Diffraction patterns have in fact been produced by material particles (atoms and molecules) in experi- ments. Thus these particles also display a wave-like behavior This law of 18 periodicity is particularly evident in the fault systems of geographical forma- tions, which affect immense areas of rock. Solar physics is another field in which oscillatory and wave processes are prominent. Our mental picture of the sun can accommodate serial structures, actual acoustic waves, plasma oscillations, turbulences, tendencies to recur- rence of many kinds, periodic dynamics, etc. Moreover, many of the systems we have mentioned are polyperiodic in character. The rhythms and vibrations interpenetrate. But in every case periodicity is constitutive of their nature; without periodicity they would not exist at all. Each of the fields we have mentioned would of course require a mono- graph of its own if it were to be properly described from the point of view of periodicity. The brief examples given here, in which reference is made to known facts, are only intended to give some idea of the inventory which, as suggested above, might be drawn upon the basis of periodicity. Hence it might be said without hesitation that the systems available to our experience are essentially periodic and that phenomena appear to be periodic throughout. However different the objects concerned, however different their causes and functional mechanisms, they have in common rhythmicity, oscillation and seri- ality. Nonetheless it must be realized that this conclusion does not take us to the real heart of these rhythms and wave processes. Indeed, it is only the discovery of the ubiquitous character of waves in the world that confronts us with the precise question: How actually do these vibrations function in a par- ticular environment. a particular medium, a particular material? Even if we know whether we are dealing with hormonal influences, neural impulses, or mechanical or chemical factors, the actual problem still remains: What is really happening in all these periodic phenomena? What actually takes place in the periodic field? Now in view of the extreme variety of things affected, the extreme vari- ety of systems coming into consideration, we have to seek out the rhythmic or serial where it is most characteristic, study it carefully, and observe its intrin- sic character. Considering, then, that the repetitive alternation of opposed phases is common to ail these phenomena, can we in this way obtain a de- scription of periodicity which will reveal a basic phenomenon and afford a clear picture of its most fundamental nature? One example, which stands for many, will bring the problems involved into sharper focus. Let us consider the striated muscle in action. When the skeletal muscle is fully contracted, it displays what is known as tetantzation. It is then seemingly in a state of continuous contraction. Closer examination and measurement, however, reveal an entirely different picture. It has been shown that in tetanization there are in the muscle, oscillations which can be demonstrated mechani- cally, optically and acoustically; they correspond to the frequencies of the impulses transmitted to the muscle. The "muscle sound" audible when the 19 muscle is contracted is due, therefore, to the rhythm or frequency of the "minia- ture contractions at maximum tetanus" (Reichel 1960). Whatever happens, then, in the active muscle takes place in these rhythms. Let us consider exactly what this means. The numerous and vastly complex processes in the active muscle are all subsumed in this periodicity. It is in this vibratory field that all the bioelec- tric, chemical, mechanical, energetic, thermal, structural, kinetic and dynamic processes take their course. What are the effects of this oscillatory process in all these sectors? What are the kinetic effects of vibration on liquid systems? How do chemical reactions take place when they are enacted in media whose processes are without exception periodic in character? These are questions which follow directly upon actual observation. As we said above, the example of muscles in action must stand for many others However this organic sys- tem involves structures of the greatest intricacy; their very complexity forbids simple discussion. And yet they are a clear invitation to explore their peculiar nature, their dynamics and kinetics, their structure and texture as revealed in their periodicity. It is these problems which are the focus of our research. What we are concerned to do then, is not to formulate hypotheses about backgrounds and final causes, but rather to press on step by step with our exploration into this field and to find methods of giving tangible expression to this phenomenology Observation must begin, however, with relatively simple processes; many variations must be made in experimental conditions; and the object itself must be allowed to point the way from one set of experiments to another. It must be stressed that it is not a question of demonstrating the periodic and the rhythmic as such, or eliciting it from the complexities of its worid according to the criteria of wave theory. The contrary is the case. It must be detected in its own world, its own environment, so that its specific effects are discovered and its multi- farious operations recognized. Only by "getting inside" the phenomena through empirical and systematic research can we gradually elicit systems in such a way that mental constructs can be created which will throw a light on the ulti- mate realities. For it must be stated quite categorically that we have to proceed on strictly empirical and phenomenological lines and that all interpretative or analogical thinking will be out of place. If a name is required for this field of research it might be called cymatics (to kyma, the wave; ta kymatika, matters pertaining to waves, wave matters). This underlines that we are not dealing with vibratory phenomena in the narrow sense, but rather with the effects of vibrations. Our documentation is primarily concerned with the experimental demonstration of phenomena in the acoustic and lower ultrasonic range. Examples will also be interposed showing periodic phenomena occurring without an actual vibratory field in order to afford a view of the general field of periodicity or, in other words, of cymatics in the broader sense. 20 2 Experimental Method In attempting to observe the phenomena of vibration, one repeatedly feels a spontaneous urge to make the processes visible and to provide ocular evi- dence of their nature. For it is obvious that, by virtue of the abundance, clarity, and conscious nature of the information communicated by the eye, our mode of observation must be visual. However great the power of the ear to stir the emotions, however wide-ranging the information it receives, particularly through language, the sense of hearing cannot attain that clarity of conscious- ness which is native to that of sight. Who can reproduce a symphony after only one hearing, or even recall all its themes? But how many are there who, after looking at a picture, can in principle describe its main elements. It is not surprising then, that workers in experimental acoustics should have striven to make its phenomena visible during important periods of the development of the science. Special mention might be made of E. F. P. Chladni (1756-1827) who discovered the sonorous figures named after him while he was investi- gating Lichtenberg figures. With a violin bow he stroked metal plates sprinkled with powder and was thus able to make the vibration processes visible. The vibratory movement caused the powder to move from the antinodes to the nodal lines, and Chladni was thus enabled to lay down the experimental prin- ciples of acoustics (e.g. die Akustik, 1802). Work on this basis was not easy and, more particularly, the conditions of the experiment did not allow a suffi- cient range of observation since they could not be freely varied while the experiment was in progress. Thus the first necessity was to elaborate meth- ods enabling the conditions of the experiment to be accurately fixed while still allowing free variation within these limits. One such method, which utilizes the piezoelectric effect, deserves special mention. Many crystals are distorted 21 by electric impulses, and conversely they produce electric potentials when they are distorted. If a series of elec- tric impulses is applied to the crystal lattice, the resulting distortions have the character of real vibrations. We will not go further here, into the complexi- ties of vibrating crystal space lattices. Suffice it to say that these vibrating crystals afford a whole range of experi- mental possibilities. First of all, the number of impulses can be precisely determined with the generator exciting them. Thus we can always know the frequency (number of vibrations per second) and also the strength of the impulse (excursion or amplitude of the vibrating body). Moreover the pre- cise site of stimulation can be known in every case. Most important of all, however, is the fact that the experi- ment is not limited in time. The fre- quency and the amplitude can both be altered during the experiment. Hence it is possible not only to pro- duce vibration patterns and investi- gate the laws to which they continu- ously conform, but also, and more especially, to make a close study of the transitions as one figure gives way to another. The experiment can be discontinued at any stage and each phase observed. Figs. 1-6 show 1-6 The illustrations show a simple sonorous figure taking shape under the action ot crystal oscillators (piezoelectric effect). Steel plate 31x31 cm. Thickness 0.5 mm. Frequency 7560 cps. The material strewn on the plate is sand which has been calcined to purify it. 22 7-11 In figures 7 and 11 a single tone (800 cps in Fig. 7,865 cps in Fig. 11) has produced its own sonorous figure on a hexagonal steel plate. Figure 9 shows the result when both tones are sounded at the same time and at equal strength. Figures 6 and 10 show the intermediate stages. 23 a sonorous figure forming under the piezoelectric effect of a crystal oscillator It is a steel plate (size 31x31 cm, thickness 0.5 mm), upon which calcined quartz sand has been sprinkled. The oscillator is fixed to the underside. Fig. 1 shows the situation before the exciting impulse. In Fig. 2 the impulse has started and gradually the vibrational patterns of the plate are rendered visible. In Fig. 6 the sonorous figure has formed. It must be realized that in Figs. 2-6 the whole process is also audible. The exciting note can be heard continuously through- out the various stages (frequency 7560 cps). It would be really true to say that one can hear what one sees and see what one hears. Some experiments will now be described in order to show what this method is capable of achieving. It is of course possible to attach more than one crystal oscillator to the same body and observe the effect. Fig. 7 shows a sonorous figure (frequency 800 cps) and Fig. 11 a second figure (frequency 865 cps). Each is individually excited. In Fig. 9, however, they are simultaneously excited, i.e. both notes can be heard. The figure shows the resultants of the two vibrations. From here it is only a step to making beats (interferences) visible. They have al- ready been demonstrated by using a plate with irregularities in its material (Zenneck). If the characteristic tones of this material were proportional to the beat, the loops could be seen to change regularly in diameter. By using crys- tal oscillators a great variety of interference conditions can be selected. If two notes are produced with frequencies giving rise to beats, the whole Chladni figure pulsates or moves to-and-fro. Again, the phases can be changed in the course of the experiment. The stages arising between the actual sonorous figures are of particular interest- Currents appear. The sand is moved around as if it were fluid. Nev- ertheless the organization of the vibrational fields persists in as much as these currents of sand move in the same or opposite directions. Fig. 12 shows such a process; the arrows indicate the direction in which the current is moving. Fig. 24 also shows this experiment and it is seen in greater detail in Fig. 25. Naturally the sand simply serves as an indicator. The actual events in vibrat- ing plates and diaphragms are of extraordinary complexity In the fields, for instance, areas appear which the indicator reveals to be in rotation. The pow- der congregates in small circular areas which continue to rotate regularly as long as the note is sounded. This rotational effect is not merely adventitious, but appears systematically throughout the vibrational field. Fig. 13 shows a plate with a number of rotating areas in which the direction of rotation of each area is contrary to that of its neighbors. The arrows show the direction of rota- tion. The circulation continues steadily and its course can be followed by mark- ing with colored grains. Phases can also be demonstrated in which both cur- rents and rotation are present The following phenomenon is then observed: a small round heap which must be imagined to rotate has sand flowing towards it 24 12 The arrows indicate the direction of flow of the streams of particles. The material is lyco- podium. Plate 25x33 cm. Thickness 0.5 mm. Frequency 8500 cps. This picture shows a detail. 13 Numerous rotational effects. The small round areas are in constant rotation. The ar- rows indicate the direction of rotation. Steel plate 31x31 cm. Frequency 12,460 cps. The material is quartz sand. 25 from two sides; the sand joins the heap, however, at opposite points on its circumference and is absorbed into it. Fig. 26 shows this happening. We thus have circular heaps which are joined together by bridges of flowing sand, or put another way, each circu- 14 A steel plate deliberately cut in an irregular shape. Maximum diameter 23 cm. Thickness lar heap has two flowing arms which 0.5 mm. Frequency 4100 cps. The material is move towards it, turn, and flow into it. quartz sand. These rotary effects can also be seen in "quite ordinary" Chladni figures. They point the way to still further in- vestigations into the real vibratory pro- cesses in these bodies. At the same time they are a reminder that we should watch for such processes in vibrational fields. Indeed these cur- rents, centers of rotation, revolving heaps with influent streams and con- necting flows must actually be ex- pected, and the material occupying 15 A symmetrical plate with complicated subdivisions. Distance across at widest part the field will indicate the vibrational 30 cm. Length 18 cm. Frequency 21.400 cps. pattern prevailing there. There can be Excitation is from the top downwards. no doubt about the occurrence of these formations. It is obvious that all these processes (interference, flows, rotation) could be more appropriately documented by cin- ematography; photographs can only stimulate the mind into grasping these processes imaginatively. Editor's note: Dr. Jenny did make several films of his experiments, highlights of which are now available on video. See color insert at the back of this book. 26 16 Guitar excited by a tone of 520 cps. The With these selected methods the sand shows the nodal lines of the mode of vibration of complicated bodies can vibration. also be rendered visible. The vibrations of structures whose mode of vibration cannot be calculated at all, or only approximately, can in this way be made accessible to experience. Fig. 14 rep- resents a sonorous figure on a steel plate of arbitrary shape. The condi- tions revealed on the variously formed lobes can be studied. Fig. 15 also reproduces a complicated fig- ure. It is precisely in figures of this kind that symmetrical relationships 17 The vibrational pattern of a brass plale. between the various parts can be Oscillatory processes In complicated solids found. It might be mentioned in pass- can be rendered visible by means of crystal ing that in such structures as these oscillators. Frequency 10.400 cps. The ma- both planar and axial symmetry enter terial is lycopodium powder. Diameter of the plate 20 cm, depth 3 cm, thickness 0.3 mm. as factors. In Fig. 16 we see a guitar energized by sound (520 cps). The indicator substance reveals the real wave events in the wooden body. If the material contains irregularities, say cracks in the wood, there are cor- responding changes in the pattern of oscillation. Vibrational behavior in forms whose modes of vibration can- not be calculated can also be rendered visible in this way. In Fig. 17, a brass plate has been made to vibrate by sound and its pattern of vibration can be clearly discerned. An interesting observation may be made at this point. The masses affected by a tone are, of course, naturally forced into the form corre- sponding to the vibrational effect. While the tone impulse persists, liq- uids and viscous masses will remain in their place if the diaphragm is tilted. or even held vertically. If the vibration 27 is discontinued, the masses slip down under the force of gravity. If the resumption of the tone is not delayed too long, the masses return to their 18 The circular shape has been created out position, i.e. they climb up again. In a of a paste-like mass by a tone. The vibration sense it would be legitimate to speak holds the paste in its field even when the dia- of an antigravitation effect. In Fig. 18 phragm is held obliquely or vertically. If the the vibrating diaphragm is arranged tone were discontinued in figure 18, the paste would flow downwards. obliquely; the mass will not slip down so long as the tone is present. Even the ringing of a bell can be rendered visible. Fig. 19 shows the vibrational pattern that appears. In order to take investigations into the vibration of complicated bodies a step further a photoelastic technique was developed. The stroboscope, which is an instrument for rendering 19 The mode of vibration of even such a com- visible the phases of rapid periodic plicated (non-calculable) form as a bell can motion, is used as the source of light. be rendered visible. Frequency 13.000 cps. The stroboscopic light is polarized and Diameter of the mouth of bell 15 cm, height penetrates the transparent model 11 cm, thickness 0.3 mm. Lycopodium pow- der was used. which is made to vibrate. The analyzer enables the vibrational process to be observed as a photoelastic phenom- enon. This technique makes feasible the study of even such complicated forms as musical instruments (e.g. the violin) in a state of vibration, at feast within the limitations imposed by the use of a model. If a liquid is used as an indicator instead of sand, an entirely different picture is obtained. The nodal lines disappear and the antinodes appear as wave fields. Fig. 20 is a sonorous figure. In Fig. 21 we have the same plate, excited at the same frequency, but covered by a sheet of liquid. The same pattern can be recognized in both pictures. In Fig. 20 the antinodes 28 are empty, but the nodal lines are shown in sand. In Fig, 21 the fields of movement are rendered visible by the wave lattices; there is nothing to be seen where the nodal lines are. The most varied forms of wave trains are to be seen in lattice areas. The move- ments at the margins of the fields are striking. If lycopodium powder (spores of the club moss) are strewn on the surface, violent movements can sometimes be seen. A turbulent zone consisting of unstable wave phenom- ena often forms there. Thus in the one case (Fig. 21) the moving elements are shown; in the other (Fig. 20) those 20 Sonorous figure on a circular plate. Diam- eter 16 cm, frequency 1060 cps. The nodal parts which exhibit no movement are lines are made visible by sand. shown. Thus the actuating is, as it were, opposed to the actuated, the creating to the created. This draws attention to the fact that the patterns taking shape must be understood in terms of their environment, that pat- terns in general are, as it were, an expression of the movement and en- ergizing process. One might speak of a creans/creatum relationship. Thus there are many conditions under which the mind might be said to be directed to the environment, to the 21 The same plate excited by the same fre- circumambient space, to the field from quency as in figure 20 but covered with a liq- which space lattices, networks, etc. uid. Now the areas of movement (antinodes) take their rise in the first place. In other are visualized directly as wave fields. words: observation of organized pat- terns and the milieu creating them raises questions as to the processes incidental and precedent to the forma- tion of such patterns. This nexus of problems is one that merits further investigation, e.g. in mineralogy col- loid chemistry, in periodic or rhythmic 29 precipitations, and in the field of chemical reactions in general. What happens before fibers, fibrils and crys- tals are separated out? Since such systems are shown to be periodically textured or patterned, periodic pro- cesses of a corresponding kind must be present in the preceding stages. But they always have to be verified in the concrete case. Vibrating materials naturally react quite unequivocally to heat conditions. Not only the crystal oscillators, but also the plates and diaphragms change their vibrational characteris- tics to a remarkable degree. They might truthfully be described as sen- sitive. The following experiment is representative of many. Fig. 22 is pro- duced by a tone with a frequency of 1580 cps. If the outermost edge of the steel plate is heated for a few seconds by a flame, the whole vibrational pat- tern changes at once, as is shown in Fig. 23. If the tone is continued during cooling, the original sonorous figure returns after a few moments (Fig. 22). Not only the effects of the vibration, but also the vibrating media themselves have highly specific characteristics. 22 Sonorous figure. Rale 24.5 x 32.5 cm, thickness 0.5 mm, frequency 1580 cps before the effect of heat. 23 The same experimental conditions as In figure 22 except that an extreme corner of the plate was touched by a flame tor a few sec- onds. Immediately the whole shape is distorted. Figure 22 reappears once the plate has cooled. 30 24 The sand figure is not a sonorous figure in the usual sense; the particles of sand are in a state of flow. Excitation is by crystal oscillators. Steel plate 25x33 cm, thickness 0.5 mm, frequency 10,700 cps. (Cf. figure 12.) 31 25 This again is a photograph of a "flowing figure", Lycopodium (spores of the club moss) is used to indicate the currents. Frequency 8500 cps. (Cf. also figure 12, detail) 26 Rotational effect. The round heaps of sand must be imagined in rotation. The sand is flow- ing in the two longitudinal areas; it is flowing towards the round shape and joining it at op- posite ends. This exceptionally interesting phenomenon is, of course, reproducible. It may be termed a rotational system with two bridge arms. Frequency 12,470 cps. 32 26 33 27-30 The four figures reveal approximately the same pattern but the number of elements grows as the pitch increases. In figures 27 to 30 the frequencies are 1690, 2500, 4820, 7800 cps, respectively. Steel plate 23x23 cm. Thickness 1mm. 34 3 Examples of Cymatic Phenomenology Some examples will now be given of vibrations rendered visible. What we actually witness here is the effect of vibration. The effects produced by vibra- tion in this or that material, in this or that medium — that is what is to be dem- onstrated. We are in fact present at the very site where the oscillating process takes its effect. First we shall simply pass under review a series of such phe- nomena. The classes of phenomena appearing, and the relationships existing between them will be revealed little by little by the things themselves. First we see some sonorous figures (Figs. 36-42). All these experiments were performed with crystal oscillators. This type of experiment enables the vibrational patterns to be produced in series and compared. It is notable in these serial experiments that the same formal pattern recurs at increasing frequencies, but that the number of constituent elements also increases at the higher frequencies. It is apparent from the series Figs. 36-42 that the figures at the higher frequencies display many more elements. In Figs. 27-30 we see a formal pattern of which similar versions are repeated as the frequency increases. In Figs. 27-30 the frequencies are 1690, 2500, 4820, and 7800 cps, respectively. Here again use was made of a steel plate (23x23 cm and 1 mm thick). The size of the plates can, of course, be varied at will. We have used plates ranging from the size of the ear drum (approx. 7x9 mm) to 70x70 cm. Also the material of the plate can be selected as desired (glass, copper, wood, steel, cardboard, earthenware, etc.). Apart from the rule that the number of elements increases with the frequency, a variety of other observations may be made of the sonorous figures (Figs. 36-42). Since the process can be stopped at any stage, the formation of nodal lines can be fol- lowed step by step. The observer can see how the particles are transported 35

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