Check out this video showcasing the updated coding we've added to the Premium version of our Halo Light System: https://lnkd.in/g9epQWTD.
With sequencing abilities, animations, transitions, an array flasher, and a custom-engineered software color organ this device is sure to be the most unique RGB LED controller seen in the worlds of cymatics and light painting.
Visit our site to learn more about this device: https://www.resonantdevices.com/halo-light-system.html!
Did you know that a frequency can produce any shape you want? That’s right, there is no specific shape or geometry inherently associated with any specific frequency. We can make a given frequency show up as any shape you want, within certain physical limits - all we would need to do is choose the right diameter for the dish, and the right viscosity and surface tension for the fluid and that input frequency will produce the desired standing wave geometry.
I imagine we all have experienced this fundamental truth in resonance with our voices in empty rooms. In a room void of wall adornments one can sound out various tones through an octave. With careful attention, one can find a tone or several tones that seem to echo longer in the room, or even amplify in volume as you sing the note. These special tones are frequencies that resonate with the geometry of the room and the air filling the space. If you were to change the air in the room to pure helium, the tones you try will behave differently. If you change the dimensions of the room, you will find different tones that resonate with the space. This is the same concept in liquid cymatics. Just because a certain tone resonates well in a specific room doesn’t mean that the tone itself is magical - it just means that the tone is “magical” specific to that room and the air filling that space. It could be that a more humid day with a greater barometric pressure changes the properties of the air in the space and thus changes the resonant frequencies for the space.
Thus, if you want resonance in liquid cymatics, you must choose the right space filled with the right medium. This is the basis of sonic resonance engineering in the application of liquid cymatics. The takeaway from all of this is understanding that when we see a liquid cymatics image (called a hydroglyph), we are viewing the result of how a certain frequency behaves in a given space; it is the specific geometric relationship between the input frequency and the fluid in the dish used.
This brings me to the 432Hz craze, where folks claim that the cymatics of 432Hz looks “prettier” than 440Hz. However, what’s missing in that study is any acknowledgment of the cup diameter and fluid used; nor is there any acknowledgement of this basic fact that if they had changed the cup diameter or fluid properties they could have made 440Hz look “pretty” and 432Hz look distorted. In a sense, it is a lie. We can make *any* frequency look pretty while some other frequency nearby will show up distorted (440Hz is close enough to 432Hz to look like it but be distorted). In this sense there is nothing special about tuning our music to A432 versus A440. That is, until you investigate the dimensions of the human form and the viscosities and surface tension of our blood.
Perhaps only then will we find some “magic” in the frequencies of A432 tuning, where the tones resonate better with the specific cavities and fluids of the human form. Until that study is performed, it cannot be said that 432Hz has any inherent magic in it, even based on the mathematical beauty found in the ratios of the tuning.
Thanks for reading! I hope this sheds some more light on the phenomenon of liquid cymatics and the hydroglyphs we are producing and sharing with you all! Shown here is 15.6Hz in two separate spaces filled with the same fluid, one cup was 2 inches in diameter and the other was 2.875 inches in diameter. I have different color arrays shining down on each, but we can clearly see that one is a 3-fold geometry and the other is a 4-fold geometry. Thus, we clearly cannot say “This is what 15.6Hz looks like!”, since we can make 15.6Hz look like any shape we want.
Isotropic and Orthotropic Materials
Some words you may not have heard of before but are definitely important in understanding cymatic phenomena are isotropic and orthotropic, and these terms relate to both liquid cymatics and Chladni plate cymatics.
Isotropic materials “flex” or bend the same manner in all directions. An elastic balloon is isotropic - its material flexes the same way no matter the direction of applied force. A wooden 2x4, however, is orthotropic - it flexes differently in its three perpendicular directions. Flex a 2x4 along its face lengthwise and it can easily bend and bow and eventually snap. Wood easily bends when you flex it in the direction of the grain. Now lay the 2x4 flat and try to flex it to make a circle end to end. Nope! This is why headers above windows and doors are made with the 2x4s facing out from the wall rather than facing up or down in the wall. The wood is much stronger if the applied forces are in the direction perpendicular to (against) the grain.
Tonoscopes made from elastic rubber or latex are like drumheads and are examples of isotropic circular membranes. When a voice or other sound passes through the tonoscope, the elastic membrane flexes in various directions. But, because it is isotropic, the tensions and forces in the flexing are equal throughout the membrane except at the edge where the membrane is clamped like a drum.
Chladni plates are isotropic elastic materials that bend and flex the same in all directions but are not clamped at the edge. They are, however, designed to be larger than the decay length of the vibrations and thus should always produce modes of vibration without slinging too much sand off the plate.
The modes of vibration (that is, the ways a material resonates) are well-studied for fixed-edge membranes like drumheads and tonoscopes. If we know the tensile strength of the material, and the mass-density of the material, we can confidently calculate and predict not only whether a frequency will resonate with the membrane but also predict what shape it will induce. Similarly, the modes of vibration are well-studied for free-edge materials like brass plates, and we can also predict mode shapes with Chladni plate cymatics.
Liquid cymatics, however, is an entirely new creature in the world of physics, and represents another class of isotropic phenomena. The surface of the fluid is “held together” by surface tension, much like the tension applied to a rubber membrane when it is stretched across a frame, and is another example of an isotropic material. Though, unlike the rubber membrane, the liquid has no clamped edge. Sure, it experiences adhesion to the inside of its container, but with a hydrophobic liner we can induce a near-100% free edge like the Chladni plates. However, unlike the Chladni plates, the surface of the liquid experiences a boundary that reflects the energy back to the center of the fluid.
The research on the phenomenon of vibrational modes of liquid held in a circular container is fairly extensive, going back to the mid-80’s; however, one fact remains - after all of the searching and mathematical physics applied to this phenomenon, it is still a mystery to predict what will happen with a given frequency in a dish full of fluid with known properties. Perhaps instead of attempting to model the *entire* physics of the fluid in the dish, we should somehow focus more on the membrane at the surface. Sure, the viscosity and density of the fluid still matter, but the surface is where all of the geometry happens, so that is where we are focusing our research - to study the vibrational modes of an isotropic membrane held in a circular container with a near-100% free edge.
It was about a year ago when I began to get bored with my selfie ring light and its stock settings and colors. Right around then I learned about programmable LEDs called neopixel LEDs and in a business meeting my business partner, Erik Larson, said “It would be really cool if we had some way to program every single individual in the light ring with a custom color.”
Within three weeks I had a very basic working prototype that controlled not one ring of the neopixel LEDs but three! With ring selection buttons, dials for the red/green/blue components of each LED, and a dial for the dimmer I had created the first functional model of what later became the Halo Light System!
With the help of my partners in Resonant Devices, we finally arrived at a prototype of something we call the Halo Light System Basic. With this device, a user can “paint” an array of three rings of LEDs for a total of 104 programmable LEDs. Using the on-board storage, the user can store up to SIX custom arrays (or color schemes on the 3-ring light source). These remain stored even after powering down the device. Ready for use in future experiments, these stored arrays can be altered and re-saved either in the same storage spot or as a new array.
The LCD screen on the controller allows the user to see what RGB codes they are using for the colors. These codes appear on the screen as values between 0 and 255 for each of the red, green and blue components of each LED. For instance, to achieve yellow, we slide the red and green sliders to 255, and turn the blue slider down to 0. Using the Pixel Selector knob, the user can then paint this color around the chosen ring, or they can opt to choose which LEDs get that color specifically. The LCD screen also displays the Mode the user is in, the selected color array, and the dimmer value (between 0-100).
We have *many* plans for our Halo Light System, including DJ/VJ projection, children’s toys (think of the Lite Brite), and general lighting for entertainment. I am actively coding the next version of this device, called the Halo Premium. The premium version will have with it the capability of designing custom sequences of your stored arrays, each element lasting for a chosen length of time, running automatically or under manual control. A user will have the option of choosing transitions to occur between sequence elements, such as “Fade”, “Flash”, “Ripple”, “Spin”, and “Spiral”. Further, the user will be able to choose animations for each sequence element, causing the sequence elements to animate while displaying. Options for animations will include “Spin”, “Flash”, and “Ripple” with user-defined BPM rates for each animation to be easily tied to an audio input.
Folks, the ideas have spread so far with this invention that ultimately we’ll have three models offering increased features beyond what’s been written here. Stay tuned, this is quite a year of releasing these one-of-a-kind inventions! Follow us on our website: https://www.resonantdevices.com/products.html
Indeed, the shape of the cup used in a liquid cymatics experiment determines the resulting standing wave. If we use a triangular cup the standing wave possibilities are limited by the specific triangular boundary; thus, various geometries are more likely to appear, and other geometries are filtered due to the lack of resonance. For example, it is very unlikely to achieve a square-like standing wave in a triangular cup, since the boundary conditions of the fluid's elastic membrane at the surface limit the way the mechanical oscillations interact with the system.
This is why we mostly use circular cups in our experiments. The circle is the ultimate polygon, offering all possible geometries of standing waves for the specific fluid/cup combo.
Here is an example of a dodecahedral (12-sided) cup engineered by our own Erik Larson! Notice how the overal geometry of the standing wave is three-fold ,but because the cup has a defined 12-sided geometry, the edges of the triangular geometry are "shaved", resulting in this unusual 12-sided standing wave with a predominantly three-fold geometry.
The cup's geometry matters!
Birefringence is probably a word you have never heard of before, yet have probably seen the effects of many times. In fact, if you have ever seen a yellow stream of color in my cymatics images spread into red and green colors (as seen in the upper right region of the image here) then you have definitely seen the effects of birefringence.
Simply put, birefringence is an optical property of a material that causes light passing through it to split into two separate beams, a phenomenon known as double refraction. We all know standard refraction when we place a straw in a cup of water, or view colors from a prism; double refraction is the same process, just occurring twice before the light beam exits the material.
A common birefringent material is actually ice. Sometimes when the conditions are just right ice will form thin sheets that when held up to the sun will display beautiful rainbow patterns in the ice. This is birefringence. Sometimes clear molded plastics attain birefringent properties due to the changes in stresses in the plastic as it cools.
The reason this phenomenon is happening in my cymatics experiments is because I use a fluid that has a surfactant in it (a surfactant is a substance like dish soap that reduces the surface tension of a fluid, making it more “slippery”). Because of the up and down undulations in certain regions of the fluid’s surface, and because a surfactant adsorbs (spreads) at the fluid’s surface, the surfactant builds up thicker in some regions than others. The light from the LEDs then passes through these thicker regions of the surfactant and undergoes double refraction.
Thanks for reading, and happy learning !
This image was created by multiple frequencies (18.2Hz and 24.6Hz) oscillating a cup of blood mimicking fluid with diameter 2.5 inches.
E3 Moog Cymatics by Erik Larson of Resonant Devices
This video is wild and is perhaps the most incredible instrument-to-cymatics video ever recorded.
In this video you can see the amazing work recorded by our CEO Erik Larson from a few years ago, playing an E3 (162Hz) note on a Moog Synthesizer, bending it up to an F3 (174Hz) and down to a D#3 (155Hz) then back up to the E.
Be sure to put your settings on max, this is a 4K video! The audio is direct from the transducer below the cymatics cup.
It is incredible to watch how slight changes to the frequency input alter the hydroglyph formation. It is also wild to see just how stable the formation is with the E3 note. This is all happening in a small cup with a diameter of about 2.5cm, filled about 75% of the way with a water and black food coloring solution.
On Viscosity and Surface Tension
Viscosity is defined to be the property of resistance to flow in any material with fluid properties. Thus, fluids with higher viscosity have a higher resistance to flow and are said to be more viscous than other fluids with lower viscosities. Experimenting with cymatics is a careful dance of viscosity, in one limited aspect. A fluid that is too viscous will not jostle enough to cause interference with itself to create the beautiful standing wave geometries we love in liquid cymatics. However, on the other hand, a fluid that is not viscous enough will be blown out of the pan and will require incredibly small amplitudes and thus may not allow enough energy to create any disturbance in the fluid.
Another aspect that plays a crucial role in creating incredible liquid cymatics geometries is surface tension. Surface tension of a fluid can be thought of as the tendency for a fluid to create a “film”, so to speak, at the boundary layer between the fluid and another surface. Surface tension is also the reason why the surface of water in a cup rises as the water nears the edge of the cup, and is also the reason why you can pour water in a cup to the point of creating a small dome of water at the top (the surface tension is keeping the water from spilling over the edge). Thus, fluids with low surface tension will be quite “sloshy” in cymatics, whereas fluids with too much surface tension will not encounter positive/negative wave interference as the fluid in the pan is oscillated by the speaker below.
It is interesting to note that as the frequency rises in a cymatics experiment, so too does the need for higher surface tension and viscosity. Thus, certain fluids are better for displaying cymatics at various frequencies than others. And, isn’t it interesting how, though water is the most common, there are many different kinds of fluids here in the world, each with its own viscosity and surface tension for the purpose it provides.
An intriguing synchronicity that occurred with my trial-and-error fluid concoctions is that I finally settled on a fluid that has a viscosity of 3.2cp and a surface tension of 58.5 mN/m. After calculating all of that with some home-made lab equipment, I did some research and found that this fluid I work with has the same viscosity and surface tension as our human blood. Isn’t that wild? The most abundant fluid in our bodies just happens to be the same fluid that generates all of these incredible forms and cymatics imagery we have been showing you for the last eight months or so.
For more information about the variables that determine a standing wave geometry in liquid cymatics, read Determinants of Faraday Wave-Patterns in Water Samples Oscillated Vertically at a Range of Frequencies from 50-200 Hz by Rupert and Merlin Sheldrake.
Thanks, and happy learning!
~ Casey Attebery