Fun with music, physics, and chemistry: What do the elements sound like?

All students of science know that the periodic table contains 118 known elements, each with their own spectrographic fingerprint. But what other attributes do the elements have? For example, do each of them have a sound?

W. Walker Smith is a researcher at Indiana University who has been looking into this question using a technique called “data sonification.” This involves taking raw data from, well, almost anything and assigning musical notes to specific parts of that data.

Smith started by converting the natural vibrations of molecules into sounds. With this project, he took the spectrographs of the visible light given off when elements are energized and turned the colours produced into music. (A more detailed explanation can be found here.)

Take a listen. (Thanks to Rick J for the link.)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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