Scientist ‘Photographs’ Sounds
Most of us are used to experiencing sound as an exclusively auditory experience. But scientist and photography enthusiast Linden Gledhill isn’t most of us. He sees it. And he’s happy to show how. The Philadelphia-based pharmaceutical biochemist has been playing with cymatics for a few years now, and he’s come a long way.
The equipment [that I use] is very simple,” Gledhill told the press. “[It consists of] a stretch membrane over a speaker, holding a pool of water which is oscillated with specific frequencies from an amplifier driven by a virtual tone generator. The surface of the water is lit with LED lights and images are captured with a camera.”
“Basically, when liquid is vibrated in a confined space it results in standing waves at specific frequencies,” he explained. “These are known as Faraday waves (nonlinear standing waves that appear on liquids enclosed by a vibrating receptacle). This is similar to how specific notes form in musical instruments.”
“The sound is passed through the water and the vibrations are imprinted on the surface which reflects the LED lights. The camera images the light reflected off the surface. The patterns and shapes obtained can be dramatically different depending on the frequencies applied.”
Gledhill started his first cymatics experiments in early 2016. “I’d seen other examples of this type of work and wanted to create my own versions with different lighting configurations.” As time went by, however, he realized it’s something he wanted to continue doing. Mainly, because of the endless complexity of patterns and color combinations which can be created a form such a simple physical process.
“My lighting techniques have evolved over the last few years and have resulted in unique image styles. I’ve recently extended the imaging using high-speed video cameras.”
And the ongoing project becomes even more impressive when you realize it isn’t even his day job. “My passion for science led me to pursue a BSc and Ph.D in Biochemistry. Following postdoctoral research, I came to realize I wanted to apply my knowledge and skills to the direct development of new drugs to treat human disease.” Joining the pharmaceutical industry has enabled Gledhill to help people live healthier and more productive lives.
“My photographic and creative hobbies are driven by a passion to explore the hidden world that surrounds us,” he said. “They are a way of combining a deep desire to explore, utilizing my scientific knowledge and to express this through photography. I want the world to see the beauty that surrounds us and to stimulate others to learn and appreciate what I see.”
Gledhill’s dedication has already transcended his basement, earning him quite a bit of recognition. “Many of my experiments lead to collaborations with other creatives and often result in major branding and advertising projects. I gain great pleasure from collaborating with others across different fields of science, the arts, and advertising.”