Cymatics Research - Astrophysics
Wherever sound and matter interact there is always a tendency toward structure and form, and this cymatic principle applies across all scales, even to the birth of the Universe. According to theory, the most potent force, following the BIG BANG, was sound.
Asteroseismologists study the sonic signatures of stars, not as sound per se, but as tiny modulations in the starlight, caused by high-energy collisions within the star’s atomic furnace. The collisions create sonic oscillations within the sphere of the star. The star’s twinkling modulations can be collected by telescope, then sonified (made audible by a computer program) and injected into the CymaScope instrument to make the sonic signature of the star visible. As you will read in the following article, following a short discussion of the spiritual tradition of sound as a creative principle of all that is, and the scientific perspective concerning the theory of how sound structured the early Universe, a short section describes John Stuart Reid’s hypothesis concerning how the giant hexagon on Saturn’s north pole was formed by sound. The last section focuses on our 2012 Star Sound exhibition at the Smithsonian Institute, in which we made visible, in video mode, the sonic signatures or “songs” of several stars, including the Sun.
The Spiritual Tradition of Sound as the Creative Principle
The poetic words of St John’s Gospel are a well-known example of a spiritual tradition in which the Word of God created all that is, quoted from the New Living Translation, John 1:1-5 :1
“1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” ¹
St John’s Gospel is not an isolated case from ancient history in which a divine source is identified as the creative principle of the Universe. In the Vedic Brahmanism tradition of northern India (circa 1500 BCE) the theme is strikingly similar to St John’s Gospel:
“In the beginning was Brahman, with whom was Vak [the word] and the word is Brahman …by that Vak [word]…he created all things whatsoever.” ²
Another example is that of the Greek ‘Logos’ a term that is interchangeable with ‘the Word’ and refers to the organizing principle of the Universe. The Greek Logos is similar to the Hebrew concept of Wisdom being Yahweh’s companion and helper in creation. The Jewish philosopher Philo merged these two themes of Greek and Jewish philosophy in his metaphysical musings, describing the Logos as the active intermediary between God and the material world. In other words, Philo’s view is of the Logos being not God per se, but rather an instrument used by God. He sought to retain the distinctiveness of God so much so that God’s only way of reaching into time, space, and matter was through the Logos.
Surprisingly the origin of this Greek, Jewish and Vedic Brahmanism concept—of God speaking the Universe into existence lies—as in many aspects of theology, with the ancient Egyptians. In 1805 an ancestor of Princess Diana, the second Earl Spencer, gifted an ancient Egyptian stone to the British Museum where it remains to this day. The ‘Shabako Stone’ commissioned by pharaoh Shabako, is considered by Egyptologists to be the most important Egyptian text, with the notable exception of the ‘Rosetta Stone’ (from which all hieroglyphs were translated). The Shabako Stone tells of the god Ptah, the cosmic architect who created light and the entire cosmos simply by uttering words. Predating the Old and New Testament by hundreds (and possibly thousands) of years, lines 56-57 of the ancient Shabako Stone text state:
“Lo, every word of god came into being through the thoughts of the mind and the command on the tongue.” ³
Thus, Ptah was believed to be creator of all. Regarding the importance of the inscribed text, Louis Žabkar, said:
“One of the most important documents of the entire Egyptian literature… [its] impact…was so fundamental that its effect and influence on Egyptian religious thought remained constant until the end of the Egyptian religion. Unparalleled in the history of the ancient Orient as far as its cosmogonic signification is concerned it traveled from century to century, from one theological system to another…becoming a universal theological theme. ⁴
A detail of the Shabako Stone – British Museum
The Scientific Perspective–how sound structured the early Universe
In recent years, a growing body of scientific research has been validating ancient traditions by indicating that sound had a structuring effect on the early Universe. The theory is based on the concept of the ‘primeval atom’ proposed by the Belgian Catholic priest, astronomer, mathematician and physics professor, Georges LeMaître (b 1894 d 1966), who first theorized on the expansion of the Universe. His primeval atom theory was given the novel term “Big Bang”, jokingly coined during a 1949 BBC radio broadcast by the British astronomer, Fred Hoyle. Consequently, LeMaitre is often referred to as “Father of the Big Bang”. He was the first to identify that the recession of nearby galaxies can be explained by a theory of an expanding universe, which was observationally confirmed soon after by Edwin Hubble, and was the first to derive what was originally known as “Hubble’s law” but since 2018 has officially been renamed the Hubble-LeMaitre law. LeMaître and Einstein met on four occasions, most notably in 1933 at a conference at the California Institute of Technology. After LeMaître detailed his theory to the delegates, Einstein is reported to have stood up, applauded, and said, “This is the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I have ever listened.”5
Professor Georges LeMaître with Professor Albert Einstein, 1933
Regarding the astronomical observations that the Universe is expanding, Professor Stephen Hawking commented in his famous book The Universe in a Nutshell:
“ …if the galaxies are moving apart now … they must have been closer in the past. About 15 billion years ago, they would all have been on top of each other and the density would have been … a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion tons per square inch.” 6
Professor Stephen Hawking in 1975
When the expansion of the universe began, ‘space’ was not the silent vacuum it is today. Sound, by definition, involves the inelastic collisions of atoms and/ or molecules, and since the density of matter following the Big Bang was extreme, so too was the intensity of sound. According to the acoustic theory of the Big Bang, the immense anti-nodal sound pressures were responsible for causing the matter to be ordered in a manner that can still be seen today in the way the galaxies are clustered.
The reason for the present upsurge of interest in this area of astrophysics and why sound is such a latecomer to this story, is concisely summed up by Professor Mark Whittle, of University of Virginia:
“…sound involves variations in properties from place to place. As with many branches of physics, understanding average properties is much easier than understanding perturbations. But with the average properties now well understood, there is growing interest in perturbations, of which sound is a particular kind. Why are perturbations and their growth so important? Because they take an initially smooth Universe and turn it into the incredibly lumpy Universe of today, with its stars and galaxies dotted throughout an ocean of vacuum. Primordial sound, then, plays a crucial role in the origin of all structure – without it there would be no galaxies, stars, planets or people.” 7
Professor Mark Whittle—AAS meeting, Denver 2004
Studies have shown that galaxies are not distributed randomly throughout the universe but in organised clusters. An example of this fact is discussed in paper titled ‘The Egg-Carton Universe’ in which the authors, E. Battaner and E. Florido, demonstrate that super clusters and voids that their theoretical octahedral structure was matched by their observations. 8 The graphic below illustrates the ‘egg-carton’ structure of the particular region of the universe they studied.
Considering the structure of Universe as an egg carton
In another study, by T.J. Broadhurst et al., the structure has been likened to a three-dimensional chessboard. [Broadhurst et al. 1990; Nature]. As the extreme density of matter diminished, so too did the structuring effects of sound, however, according to Daniel J. Eisenstein and Charles L. Bennet, of the University of Arizona, relic imprints of primordial sound in the microwave background and the distribution of galaxies have contributed to an extraordinarily detailed history of the Universe. In their article “Cosmic sound waves rule” they commented :
“Relativistic sound waves raced through the hot plasma that filled the Universe for its first 380,000 years. That sound left an imprint that is still discernible in the cosmic microwave background and also in the large-scale distribution of galaxies. Measurements of the sound waves manifested in the CMB, couple with a detailed understanding of the physics of sound waves in the plasma epoch, provide the foundation of our standard model of cosmology”. 9
In summary, astrophysics is revealing that sound had a structuring effect on the early Universe, the imprint of which remains visible today in the way galaxies are grouped. But sound also has a structuring effect today at the planetary scale, as John Stuart Reid’s hypothesis explains, concerning the giant hexagon that has manifest in the clouds of Saturn’s north pole.
John Stuart Reid’s hypothesis explains the giant hexagonal cloud formation on Saturn as cymatic geometry created by an Extremely Low Frequency sonic source.
Hypothesis: A massive eruptive event, possibly a giant geyser, sends a continuous stream of Extremely Low Frequency (E.L.F.) sonic energy toward Saturn’s upper atmosphere, propagating as an ever expanding bubble-shaped emanation. Travelling through the outer layers of the atmosphere (in the region of the methane and helium clouds) the sonic bubble reaches the palisade after a journey time of several hours. The palisade is a circular region of high speed winds that acts as a boundary condition to the bubble, reflecting it back toward the epicenter.
In the region between the epicenter and palisade the reflected energy is partially neutralized by the E.L.F. sonic energy traveling outward, stabilizing into a standing wave of hexagonal geometry, one of the archetypal cymatic forms.
The frequency of the sonic energy, the diameter of the palisade and the density of the gases are the prime factors in determining the shape of the nodal (low pressure) area in which clouds form what may be nature’s largest cymatic feature.
Click the image below to enlarge.
Cymatics at the Smithsonian
In 2012 we were asked by Deborah Stokes, curator for education at the Smithsonian, if it would be possible to image some ‘songs of stars’ for their African Cosmos Stellar Arts exhibition which was planned to run through to December 9th 2012. We were delighted to have been asked. Their exhibition, which was a great success with adults and young people was an important milestone for the CymaScope and it will help the instrument gain acceptance as a useful scientific tool.
The atomic processes within the atomic furnace of stars create sounds as a result of the high-energy collisions between atomic particles. These sounds cause the starlight to vary minutely, tiny modulations that can be detected by sensitive instrumentation, then demodulated, recreating the original sounds in the laboratory. Analysis of the star sounds can help asteroseismologists gain a better understanding of the atomic processes with a given star.
The star sound files were fed into a CymaScope, which makes the periodicities in the sounds visible by imprinting them on the surface of ultra pure water, thus transcribing the sound periodicities to periodic wavelets, effectively rendering the sounds visible. The CymaScope imagery was captured on-camera and sent to James Stuart Reid who provided colorization and titles. The completed videos were then sent to the Smithsonian where Michael Briggs used them to create the “Star Station,” a booth where visitors experienced the star-sounds-made-visible, the first time such an exhibit has been achieved. Visitor reaction to the Star Station was very positive and children, in particular, loved it. Inspiring children to explore the field of cymatics is an important part of our ethos.
The Smithsonian web site article is here: https://africa.si.edu/exhibits/cosmos/starsounds.html
The ‘star station’ in the Smithsonian:
Song of the Sun made Visible
One of the many applications for the CymaScope lies in making visible sounds from the interior of the earth, planets, stars, nebulae and galaxies. All sounds have structure when manifest on a membrane and by making the structure visible on the surface of water the nature of the geometry can help scientists understand the processes at work within planetary and celestial bodies Stanford University, in collaboration with the ESA and NASA, are studying the physics of the Sun both deep within its core and in its outer corona and solar wind regions,via the SOHO spacecraft data.
SOHO, which stands for “Solar and Heliospheric Observatory,” was built in Europe by a team led by prime contractor Matra Marconi Space under overall management by ESA and was launched on December 2, 1995. The twelve instruments on board were provided by European and American scientists. NASA was responsible for the launch and is now responsible for mission operations. Large radio dishes around the world, which form NASA’s Deep Space Network, are used for data downlink and commanding. Mission control is based at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.
The Stanford web site carries the full story together with some of the sounds captured by the SOHO spacecraft:
The following video, posted with permission, was created by Stanford University and explains the basic concepts of the song of the sun.The video includes computer-modeled images that show sound bubbles within the sun’s outer regions.
CymaScope.com have imaged one of the SOHO sounds on the CymaScope. We were pleased to discover that our result confirms the bubble-like structures in the sun’s outer ‘regions’. The CymaScope image shows 28 bubbles against 34 shown in the Stanford model.
Computer-modeled images showing sound bubbles within the sun's outer regions
Computer model of sound bubbles distributed over the sun’s surface
Computer-modeled images showing sound bubbles within the sun's outer regions
Song of the Sun poster, available in our online shop:
A video showing the sound bubbles within the sun
The Garland of Letters, Sir John Woodroffe, Ganesh & Co, ISBN: 81-85988-12-9
“The Shabaka Stone, An Introduction”, Joshua J. Bodine, https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1131&context=studiaantiqua
The Universe in a Nutshell, Stephen Hawking, London, 2001, Bantam Press.
Big Bang Acoustics—Sound in the Early Universe. “Echoes” article for the Acoustical Society of America. http://people.virginia.edu/~dmw8f/sounds/aas/echoes.pdf
The Egg-Carton Universe, E. Battaner and E. Florido, https://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/9802009
Cosmic Sound Waves Rule, Prof. D, Eisentstein, Prof. C. Bennett, https://physicstoday.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/1.2911177 https://doi.org/10.1063/1.2911177
Cymatics at the Smithsonian. https://africa.si.edu/exhibits/cosmos/starsounds.html