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Music Video Made Accurately Epic with Science Experiments

Science and art spring from the same flame.

The music video below is epic for more than the traditional reasons. Yes, Nigel Stanford‘s “Cymatics” is a throbbing cut of house electronica, but it’s also, oddly enough, one of the most scientifically accurate music videos I’ve ever seen. That’s probably because nearly every frame in “Cymatics” is showing off some kind of scientific demonstration. Check it out below:

Cymatics is the study of what happens when sound becomes visible, usually done by sending sound waves through a medium and examining the patterns that emerge. The first experiment in the video is a Chladni plate, which shows that different frequencies of sound produce different landscapes of vibration across a metal plate.

cymatics 1

The second experiment also shows how sound waves travel through a medium, this time using vodka, a petri dish, and low frequency sound. Standing waves form in the vodka as the sounds waves move through it.

cymatics 2

The next demonstration uses ferrofluid, which is a fluid embedded with some kind of magnetic material. In the video, electromagnets fire in sync with Stanford’s synthesizer, rapidly drawing fluid towards them and creating a unique ferro-fountain.

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After that comes a bit of camera magic. By placing a water hose over a speaker, Stanford is able to get the water in the hose vibrating at a certain frequency. By synching the camera’s shutter speed with that frequency (turned on when the bass drum hits), it can make water look as though it moves in cascading slow motion.

cymatics 3

Next Stanford features an old novelty desk toy from the 80s — a plasma globe. Invented by Nikola Tesla, the plasma globe works by exciting electrons in the gas inside the globe with electricity. Eventually enough current is applied to ionize the gas inside, and as other electrons join the party, plasma “filaments” form (they are attracted to your fingers because your body is a better conductor than glass).

cymatics 5

The next demonstration is of a Ruben’s Tube, which uses open flames to visualize standing sound waves in a tube. Where gas in the tube is gathered up there is more flame, and where it is pushed away there is less. This pushing and gathering represents the nodes and anti-nodes of the system (and if you’ve never seen a 2D Ruben’s Tube holy wow check this out).

cymatics 6

Lastly, Stanford dons a protective suit of chain mail and steps into the electrifying horizon of a Tesla coil (the charge flows more easily around him than through him).

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Whoever said science and art can’t mix?

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  1. Rosemary Carter says:

    What an excellent combination of diverse talents went into the cymatics video.  It was clearly lots of work, and is well executed.  Great work!