hertz news

Watch this space for information about HERTZ: ‘If you want to find the secrets of the universe think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration’ – Nikola Tesla.

Imagine being able to hear the stars singing; imagine the sound made visible and our bodies resonating to the inaudible symphony of our own planet. Our fascination with the stars has inspired our myths science, art and philosophy. Research and development for the artwork HERTZ brings that fascination to life.

HERTZ, named after Heinrich Hertz, describes the pitch of any given audible, inaudible note or frequency and is the title of this R&D project which connects two happenings: stars singing and invisibly vibrating to the accompaniment earth’s hidden resonances.

Artist Juliet Robson, working with Meteorologist Graeme Marlton, mathematician Andrew James Gibbs and astrophysicist Professor Bill Chaplin, will develop prototypes of ‘instruments’ that translate these secret sounds into visible and tangible experiences.

Through Interactive presentations and the ‘playing’ of those instruments, people will experience a sound track of the songs of the stars and the beautiful resonating visual patterns of their frequencies (hertz). They will feel the vibrations of the imperceptible movement of glaciers through their bodies, via chairs and objects and feel the hairs lift on their arm in real time with the inaudible frequencies of a swelling ocean wave off a distant coast.

HERTZ is Supported by an Unlimited award. In addition Dr. Graeme Marlton and the Meteorology dept. at Reading University, Prof Bob Chaplin and the Astrophysics Dept. at Birmingham University and Mathematician Dr. Andrew Gibbs  have committed in kind support and match funding to HERTZ. Dr. Graeme Marlton will be giving a presentation on developments so far in April 2017 at the European Geosciences Union conference in Vienna. (Scroll to bottom of page to see the poster from the conference including links to infra frequencies of Mount Etna and an F16 aircraft.) 

Introducing the collaborators and the ‘science bit’:

Astrophysicists Bill Chaplin and technicians at Birmingham University have been using data from the Kepler project, which has recorded the ‘singing’ of over 2000 stars in our galaxy. Asteroseismology is a rapidly growing field of astronomy and professor Bill Chaplin leads a team from within the International Kepler Asteroseimic Science Consortium (KASC) responsible for the study of stars similar to our own Sun.

“Stars resonate like musical instruments. KASC may be able to use this ‘music of the spheres’ to help us understand the origins of solar flares and coronal mass ejections, that have their origins in processes occurring inside our Sun, so we are better able to predict for example the occurrence of certain events like severe, solar storms and their effect on us.” Bill Chapman.

Through a number of research visits the artist will explore Birmingham’s star sounds archive and select raw frequency data of star sounds with Dr. Bill Chaplin. These frequencies below our range of hearing will then be transposed up and made audible. Next, through using algorithms written by Andrew Gibbs, (see below) we will build a prototype ‘instrument’ to create beautiful oscillating geometric patterns of star songs made of vibrating salt granules generated on Chladni plates.

Andrew Gibbs’s PhD in applied mathematics, specialised in modeling the interaction of acoustic waves with certain two-dimensional obstacles. – A key part of acoustic wave modeling is predicting the frequencies at which resonance and other phenomena occur, such as the formation of Chladni patterns. Andrew will design algorithms and simple experiments which can be used to predict the shape of the Chladni style plate on which patterns will form, when specifically, excited by sounds of stars.

 Also, at the University of Reading, through the Atmospheric InfraStructure Research in Europe (ARISE) project, Meteorologist Dr. Graeme Marlton has access to infrasound data from international stations of many natural and man-made phenomena below the human range of hearing, such as imperceptibly moving glaciers, earthquake tremors, volcanoes, oceanic waves and even comets hitting the earth. The stations are constantly recording and storing this data, of which only a tiny amount from specific events is used in research. And sees the light of day.

HERTZ will use these ‘forgotten’ infrasound signals to provide modulated vibrations that will drive a silent subwoofer to shake a chair, wheelchair or object, so that we can experience the hidden resonances of these phenomena.

In addition, an Infra wave sensor with another subwoofer audio speaker will provide low frequency tones of events, but from sensors picking up signals in real-time. Participants will experience this, through for example the hairs on their arm being lifted in conjunction with invisible frequencies natural happenings.

Blog 2 May 8th 2017

HERTZ at the European Geosciences Union conference in Vienna

In April this year Dr Graeme Marlton attended the European Geosciences Union conference in Vienna where he delivered a poster for the Art Science session at EGU about infra sound and how it was being used for HERTZ.  Having been collecting infra sounds of the planet through his use of sensors in research Graeme is keen to make those inaudible sounds and their uses understood by the wider public.  We were excited to be able to present the poster at an international conference and begin to get the word out about what we were doing.

The recent successful application to Unlimited for Research and Development means that as soon as contracts are signed and the money is in the bank the real work can begin!

Click on HERTZ to see the poster.

Below are two infrasound clips, one from an F16 jet aircraft and the second from the Mt Etna Volcano. Both are made audible by playing the infrasound at 200x the original speed. (Courtesy of Peiter Smets of the Dutch Meteorological Institute (KNMI).)


Mount Etna: