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    Main » 2014 » January » 29 » Cymatics at the Smithsonian
    10:18 PM
    Cymatics at the Smithsonian
    In 2012 we were asked by Deborah Stokes, curator for education at the Smithsonian, if it would be possible to image some 'songs of stars' for their African Cosmos Stellar Arts exhibition which was planned to run through to December 9th 2012. We were delighted to have been asked. Their exhibition, which was a great success with adults and young people was an important milestone for the CymaScope and it will help the instrument gain acceptance as a useful scientific tool.

    The atomic processes within the atomic furnace of stars create sounds as a result of the high-energy collisions between atomic particles. These sounds cause the starlight to vary minutely, tiny modulations that can be detected by sensitive instrumentation, then demodulated, recreating the original sounds in the laboratory. Analysis of the star sounds can help asteroseismologists gain a better understanding of the atomic processes with a given star.

    The star sounds were processed by the following scientists:

    Star: RR Lyrae
    Dr Elisabeth Guggenberger,
    University of Vienna, Austria
    Star: Chi Hydrae
    Dr Conny Aerts and team, University of Leuven, Belgium.
    Sound file created by: European Southern Observatory.

    Star: PG1159+035
    Michael Breger,
    Department of Astronomy, University of Texas, USA.

    Star: Sun
    Dr Guenter Houdek and Dr Douglas Gough,
    University of Vienna, Austria.

    The star sound files were fed into a CymaScope, which makes the periodicities in the sounds visible by imprinting them on the surface of ultra pure water, thus transcribing the sound periodicities to periodic wavelets, effectively rendering the sounds visible. The CymaScope imagery was captured on-camera and sent to James Stuart Reid who provided colorization and titles. The completed videos were then sent to the Smithsonian where Michael Briggs used them to create the "Star Station," a booth where visitors experienced the star-sounds-made-visible, the first time such an exhibit has been achieved. Visitor reaction to the Star Station was very positive and children, in particular, loved it. Inspiring children to explore the field of cymatics is an important part of our ethos.

    The Smithsonian web site article is here:

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