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May 21st, 2009
Physics of Sound
The Equations of Sound
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Brian Greene: When we talk about vibration in physics, we have an interesting set of equations, mathematical equations that govern how a system vibrates. So if we have a string on a violin, we have an equation for how that string will vibrate. And that equation is one we can study mathematically and predict for a given string, what it will sound like based in the mathematics. And this set of equations, the equations for what we call simple harmonic motion are the most ubiquitous equations in all of physics. They’re the ones we deal all the time in a wealth of different systems, in cosmology we deal with them, in astrophysics we deal with them, in everyday settings we deal with them. Those equations are the bread and butter of physics.

  • Jetti Harris
    AUTHOR: God’s Song: Published: Liberty University Press: 2010.

    Brian: It is probably difficult for a musician to speak intelligently about equations. However, we DO understand the necessity for them and we know full well the effect of them in how our instruments are tuned and how the music we make on them is either successful or not.

    Harmonic motion does not only effect the world of physics—i. e., Galloping Gertie—the huge bridge debocle of several decades ago. It is the essence of music in its purest form. It even governs, in large part, the rhythmic motion of any given piece. In fact, I believe that our universe would collapse without the integral influence of harmonic motion—without being a scientist, I can easily see how this factor even controls the very motion of the galaxies. I would agree that these equations are also the bread and butter of our musical success or failure, even though we may not be able to identify them.

    Nothing would please me more than to have you answer some of my reflections. Jetti

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