The Sound of Science

In 1905 Heinrich Rubens created the Rubens' Tube, an invention that graphically shows the relationship between sound waves and sound pressure. Basically, it's a length of perforated pipe. Flammable gas is connected to one end, a speaker to the other, and then the pipe is sealed at both ends. Safe enough, methinks. When a tone is played through the speaker, it enters the tube and the confined space creates reflections and interference, which then combine to create a standing wave. The standing waves effect the air pressure inside the tube, which effects the amount of gas coming out of each individual perforation, which effects the size of the individual flame.  

SCIENCE!  We love science!

Okay... enough science.

Let's get to the fun stuff...

FIRE!  We love fire!

In the past few years, there has been a wave of renewed interest in Rubens' physics experiment. I'm guessing this revival was borne from someone bringing one to Burning Man or Coachella. I mean, that's how kilts and mustaches came back into style, right?  Anyway...

Whereas the original demonstration was of pure frequency/tones entering the tube (boring to listen to and quite harsh on the eardrums), today people are playing around with fully orchestrated music pumping through the tube.

MUSIC!  We love music!  

Check these out...


As with most things, the tube evolved, and a 2-D version of the idea was created.  Behold: The Pyro Board. Designed and created in Denmark, it is a soundboard with 2,500 individual flame perforations.  Take a look...

I'm convinced this would make for an amazing dance floor, given the correct footgear.

Of course — being that I love science, fire and music — I'm now sitting here thinking about how cool it would be to build a new fire pit for my backyard entertainment area. It's possible I've had a few too many Peeps, but it's also very possible I'm about to build something pretty darn fabulous!