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Analog Photography Trick Leads To Mother Of All Sound Visualizations

The new video and GIF-set from Skunk Bear will have you seeing sounds.
April 10, 2014, 8:15pm

Are you ready to repost? In case you haven't had the chance to marvel at Nature's utter beauty this fine afternoon, NPR's Skunk Bear have produced a video solely for your natural, intellectual enjoyment:

Using a parabolic-mirror technique that allows camera lenses to strip real life images down to their basest particles, sound waves are no longer invisible vibrations. Check out these GIFs they were kind enough to make, too (the sound waves themselves are generally the fastest moving "lines" in the below images):

From the Skunk Bear TumblrWhen light travels through areas of different air density, it bends. You’ve probably noticed the way distant pavement seems to shimmer on a hot day, or the way stars appear to twinkle. You’re seeing light that has been distorted as it passes through varying air densities, which are in turn created by varying temperatures and pressures.

Schlieren Flow Visualization can be used to visually capture these changes in density: the rising heat from a candle, the turbulence around an airplane wing, the plume of a sneeze … even sound. Special thanks to Mike Hargather, a professor of mechanical engineering at New Mexico Tech, who kindly provided a lot of these videos.

For more purely scientific awesomeness from NPR, check out Skunk Bear on Tumblr.

Enjoy these sorts of things? Check out:  

Visualizing Sound Waves With Bubbles And Light Projections

2.5 Years Of Computer Usage Turned Into A Stunning Data Visuzalization

An Insider's Guide To "Hearing Architecture" With Artist Jacqueline Kiyomi Gordon