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On Resonance

by Steve Syfuhs / October 10, 2012 01:34 AM

In Physics there is a term called resonance:

Resonance is the tendency of a system to oscillate at a greater amplitude at some frequencies than at others.

In other words, if energy is applied to something, that something will vibrate more or less depending on the frequency applied to it.

For example, consider a speaker.

A speaker produces sound by oscillating air around it. It does this by converting electrical energy into mechanical energy. The electrical signals cause something to vibrate, and that vibrating thing causes air to vibrate as well. Sound is the vibration of air back and forth at given frequencies.

Hearing is the ability to convert vibrating air to electrical signals that are interpreted by our brain. A speaker converts electrical signals to vibrating air, and our ears convert vibrating air to electrical signals.

Acoustic resonance is, simplistically, the energy of the air movement causing something else to oscillate a lot more than usual. This something else could be a piece of furniture, the housing of the speaker, or even a building. When the right frequency is applied, that thing will start vibrating. This frequency is called the resonant frequency. In fact, there are multiple frequencies that can have such an affect on a single thing, and most things have different resonant frequencies. A lot of times these frequencies are fairly low in the spectrum of human hearing.

This is observed daily. Consider an idiot driving down the street playing really loud boomy music. You can hear everything vibrating on their car. Everything is vibrating because the sound from the music is causing things on the car to resonate, and you can hear the vibrations because its causing air to move.

Resonance is an interesting thing. Especially at 2:30am on a Wednesday because your neighbor is being a jackass listening to really low, loud music which is causing the foundation of your building to vibrate ever so slightly enough to make noise.

But I digress.

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Steve is a renaissance kid when it comes to technology. He spends his time in the security stack.