Tag Archives: Physics

Singing flames


As early as the 18th century physicists were experimenting with tones produced by the effect  of flames on nearby glass tubes, and in 1873 the physicist Georges Frédéric Eugène Kastner developed a keyboard pyrophone.

More recently, singing flames have been featured in mixed media works by artists such as Andreas Oldörp, whose Singende Flammen (1988) was installed in a preexisting tunnel beneath Hamburg’s Hans-Albers-Platz. Composers who have used singing flames in their work include Alvin Lucier.

This according to “Singende Flammen: Andreas Oldörps Arbeiten zwischen Experiment und Installation” by Volker Straebel (Neue Zeitschrift für Musik CLX/2 [März-April 1999] pp. 45–47).

Above, Kastner’s pyrophone; below, two views of singing flames in Sydney’s Darling Harbour in 2011.

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Filed under Acoustics, Curiosities, Instruments, Science

Music of the spheres

A black hole situated in the center of a galaxy amid a group of thousands of galaxies collectively called the Perseus Cluster (shown above) emits waves in a frequency equivalent to a B♭ 57 octaves below middle C, or one million, billion times lower than the lowest sound audible to the human ear. The Perseus black hole’s sound waves have a frequency of 10 million years.

This information, from an article published online by NASA, resonates with the philosophical concept often associated with Pythagoras and Johannes Kepler of Musica universalis or music of the spheres.

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Filed under Curiosities, Science