Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Wave Lab Part 2

After watching some cool videos on YouTube, I decided it would be fun to make patterns with sound waves. These patterns are caused by the same kind of waves, and wave interference, that we saw with our pseudo-ripple tank experiment. Again, our setup was crude: we took a recycled container and set it over a tiny set of speakers and an mp3 player loaded with video game soundtracks. Then we sprinkled some salt on a plate and put it on top. We also tried sprinkling salt directly on the metal top, and then tried it with some water.

We didn't always get fancy patterns, but we did see some nice movement. Watch!

In the videos on YouTube done with real lab equipment, you can see cool Chladni patterns.

Here's an explanation from Teacher's Domain:

When an object vibrates at one of its natural frequencies (a rate of vibration at which it naturally tends to move), standing wave patterns are formed within the object. These patterns are the result of wave interference, which occurs at the meeting of two waves traveling within the same medium in different directions. The resulting disturbance within the material at the point where the waves meet is the net effect of the two waves. At certain points in the material, the waves cancel each other out through destructive interference and there is no net disturbance. These points are called nodes, or nodal points. Around the nodes, the waves constructively interfere; the points with the greatest disturbance are called antinodes, or anti-nodal points.
And here's an explanation of their origin and use from Robert Krampf:
These patterns are called Chladni patterns, named after Ernest Florens Friedrich Chladni of Saxony, who has been called the father of acoustics. He sprinkled sand onto metal plates and studied the way that they vibrated.

Besides being fun to play with, these patterns are useful. These patterns are used in designing musical instruments. If a part is attached to a place where the instrument vibrates, the sound will be dampened. By attaching parts at nodes, the instrument makes a full, rich sound. These patterns make the difference between an average instrument and a quality one.

Here are the rest of our videos: