Since we first wrote about the mysterious mechanical vibration that shakes us awake at night, we’ve tried endless fixes to no avail and at times, have despaired of finding a solution. But amidst this difficulty have come many unexpected gifts, in the form of strangers reaching out to help, and research leading to rich layers of information about sound, acoustics and materials, and seeing our own tenaciousness in the face of a problem.

The latest gift came as we were following more trails about how frequencies work, having learned the specific freqencies of our vexing vibrations. We stumbled on a trove of startlingly beautiful images of vibrations
made on a Chladni plate, first devised in 1787. Fine powders are sprinkled on a metal plate that is made to vibrate; they settle into unique patterns determined by their frequency.

http://isites.harvard.edu
http://isites.harvard.edu

Foster used a Chladni plate the like one above to make a stunning Flickr portfolio of designs that occur at various hertz…

Foster86/Flickr
Foster86/Flickr

….marvelous abstractions created by sound and vibration…

Foster86/Flickr
Foster86/Flickr

Some are mandala-like, some wondrous modernist geometries…

Foster86/Flickr
Foster86/Flickr

All provide a kind of comfort; we know that the irritating vibration is also a harmonic capable of great beauty.

View more images of various frequencies here and here.

Foster86/Flickr
Foster86/Flickr

 

One thought on “A Vexing Problem Yields Unexpected Gifts: Wondrous Images of Vibrations

  1. “Foster used a Chladni plate the like one above to make a stunning Flickr portfolio of designs that occur at various hertz…”

    You’re quite right! I used some hi-fi amp and my iPhone to generate the signals. It wasn’t that great a setup as the speaker under the plate kept blowing fuses!

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