In addition to shaping world cultures, and providing the centers of entertainment, special events, and so many other parts of our lives, we can also find music, sound, and rhythm forming the basis of modern technological advancements and biologic discoveries.
Watches and Recording
Thanks to the piezoelectric effect (when matter produces voltage once stress is applied), quartz is able to provide oscillation stability so dependably (after being cut in precise ways) that it is used in watches as a kind of metronome (beating at a frequency of about 32kHz) (Dwyer, 2019) which keeps the watch ticking in tempo to keep up with the 86,400 seconds in every day. For this reason, they are also used in radio transmitters and receivers, computers, and other electronic devices (Dwyer, 2019).
Though you may think of Atlantis when someone mentions using crystals to record information, inventors at Yale University have taken advantage of sound waves to do just that. Sound in a freezing temperature can last far longer than sound at room temperature, and in frigid conditions, it can be “generated and controlled”, via lasers, to store information in quartz, sapphire, and other crystals (Shelton, 2018).
Ultrasonic pest repellents have specific frequency settings which, although outside the range of human hearing, can be set to different ranges to repel dogs, cats, lizards, rats, mosquitoes, and flies (Mohankumar, 2019).
DNA Damage, Function, and Repair
Contact to certain sound frequencies, light frequencies, and other wave frequencies have been proven to be harmful to human health and damage DNA (“Microwaves, Radio Waves…”, 2016). This is much of the reason people wonder about the effects their cell phones and other electronics may be having on them.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, sound waves can be extremely beneficial. Frequencies of sound and other wave types play a large role in the study of DNA molecules. Under the scope of epigenetics, scientists who study genetics are trying to fix problems in damaged DNA without the use of drugs. Though the processes of treating someone with any of the various epigenetic methods can be quite complex, they all have to do with altering damaged DNA without physically changing its sequence. In one example, this is done by gathering information and frequencies from a healthy organism and using this correct information to alter DNA in an afflicted organism so that their damaged DNA can begin to recode itself correctly (Gariaev, et al, 2017). If perfected, these methods could possibly help many people, animals, and even plants with certain types of genetic issues. Converting DNA codes into pure sound altogether may also make it easier for doctors to find potentially harmful mutations (Temple, 2017).
In 2016, the University of Glasgow discovered that bubbles producing delocalized sound waves allow double-stranded DNA to split (University of Glasgow, 2016) during its natural replication stage. These sounds have “a frequency of a few terahertz or a billion times higher than a human or a dog can hear” (University of Glasgow, 2016).
Thoughts and Hearing
The volume of our thoughts affects the volume at which we hear “real” sounds. When your thoughts are louder, sounds you hear become softer (New York University, 2018) – you can literally drown out outside sounds with thought. Each thought you have produces a vibrational frequency, and listening to certain frequencies can affect hormone levels, like catalyzing the increase of serotonin (Nunner, 2017). This may be an intricate component to understanding how meditation and music therapy physically work.
Your two ears also don’t perceive the same exact sounds. That’s right – each ear hears a slightly different frequency, and your brain interprets the two as one. As a result, binaural beat therapy (using the difference in the value between the two perceived frequencies) of different value ranges are being used to promote meditation, relaxation, concentration, creativity, alertness, and more (Smith, 2019), though some ranges can also have a negative effect and increase stress.
Auditory stimulation is an ongoing field that’s currently expanding. As touched upon in the article “Skills, Benefits, and Applications of Learning an Instrument“, sound is used in the treatment of tinnitus, but it is also used in neurologic stimulation for those suffering from mental disabilities, as well as stimulation for other hearing impairments. Alfred Tomatis, a French physician, created the Tomatis method to enhance listening in adults and children (Tomatis Development S.A., 2019). Similar to sound-based tinnitus therapy, the Tomatis method takes advantage of neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to remap itself). Once a patient’s hearing ability is assessed, they are given sounds to listen to which switch back and forth between high and low frequencies, stimulating the brain to “listen” and adjust more accurately (Tomatis Development S.A., 2019). Auditory measurements taken on patients before and after therapy show significant improvements and have been documented in several research studies. The voice is also incorporated into the therapy since the way one talks largely relies on their listening skills. In Canada, the Toronto Listening Centre takes advantage of the Tomatis method to help children and adults with everything from social issues/disconnects to severe speech impediments to overcoming damage from ear infections to improving singing, balance, posture, and coordination (Regush, 2018).
One interesting realization made by Tomatis himself is that due to the unique acoustics involved in different language styles (from pitch to accents), a person who speaks only/predominantly one language will have their ears tuned differently than that of a person who speaks only/predominantly another language. “British English, for example, is richer in high-frequency content than French, whereas French is richer in medium frequency.” (Regush, 2018). This may have contributed to differences in world music styles.
Remediation of Contaminated Water
Ultrasonic sound can be used to reduce chemical pollution from medical and pharmaceutical waste, as researched and carried out by Linda Weavers (professor at the College of Engineering at Ohio State University) (Fox, 2012). Likewise, ultrasonic sound projects are underway by the U.S. Army to isolate spores of bacteria (Emerging Technology…, 2010). Ultrasound in water produces bubbles which collapse and release pressurized, heated gas that can destroy organic contaminants like certain chemical pollutants (Franzen, 2001). Another research project at the University of Adelaide, Australia, using high quantities of ultrasound at different amplitudes and frequencies, found the waves effective in neutralizing cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) (University of Adelaide, 2010). Though in some instances ultrasound only partially or heavily reduces contaminants, there are several cases where it completely removes them, like in the 2008 study done using water contaminated with ibuprofen (Méndez-Arriaga, 2008). This can be dependent on a number of variables including the exact frequency used, the specific contaminants in the water, and other present chemicals, pH, and salinity levels. Not only is this type of technology easy to use, but it can potentially solve a worldwide problem without the use of counteractive chemicals (which could have their own negative side effects).
Dwyer, Douglas. “How Quartz Watches Work.” HowStuffWorks, 2019, electronics.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/clocks-watches/quartz-watch2.htm.
Emerging Technology from the arXiv. “Using Sound to Filter Bacterial Spores from Water.” MIT Technology Review, 7 July 2010, www.technologyreview.com/s/419721/using-sound-to-filter-bacterial-spores-from-water.
Fox, Kari. “Purifying Water with Sound.” The Ohio State University College of Engineering, 6 September 2012, engineering.osu.edu/news/2012/09/purifying-water-sound.
Franzen, Harald. “Cleaning Water with Ultrasound.” Scientific American, 23 April 2001, www.scientificamerican.com/article/cleaning-water-with-ultra.
Gariaev, P.P., et al. “Practical Application of Linguistic Wave Genetics (LWG) Principle in Creating Quantum Information Matrices (QIM) Used for Programming Plain Liquids to Medically Active Liquids, Called Quantum Information Matrix Programmed Liquids (QIMPL).” Journal of Clinical Epigenetics, 24 July 2017, clinical-epigenetics.imedpub.com/practical-application-of-linguistic-wave-genetics-lwg-principle-in-creating-quantum-information-matrices-qim-used-for-programming.php?aid=19804.
Méndez-Arriaga, F., et al. “Ultrasonic Treatment of Water Contaminated with Ibuprofen.” NCBI, U.S. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, October 2008, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18789474.
“Microwaves, Radio Waves, and Other Types of Radiofrequency Radiation.” American Cancer Society, 5 January 2016, www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/radiation-exposure/radiofrequency-radiation.html.
Mohankumar, D. “Ultrasound and Insects.” Electroschematics, 2019, www.electroschematics.com/3864/ultrasound-and-insects.
New York University. “The ‘Loudness’ of Our Thoughts Affects How We Judge External Sounds.” Medical Press, 23 February 2018. https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-02-loudness-thoughts-affects-external.html.
Nunner, Matteo. “Sound Therapy and Well-Being: Some Scientific Studies.” MedicinaNarrativa, 15 December 2017, www.medicinanarrativa.eu/sound-therapy-and-well-being-some-scientific-studies.
Regush, Nicholas. “The Listening Cure.” The Listening Centre, 2018, www.listeningcentre.com/articles/the-listening-cure.
Shelton, Jim. “New Device Uses Sound Waves in Pristine Crystals to Store Information.” YaleNews, 3 April 2018, news.yale.edu/2018/04/03/new-device-uses-sound-waves-pristine-crystals-store-information.
Smith, Lori. “What Are Binaural Beats, and How Do They Work?” MedicalNewsToday, 30 September 2019, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320019.php#how-do-binaural-beats-work.
Temple, Mark. “What Does DNA Sound Like? Using Music to Unlock the Secrets of Genetic Code.” The Conversation, 19 June 2017, theconversation.com/what-does-dna-sound-like-using-music-to-unlock-the-secrets-of-genetic-code-78767.
Tomatis Development S.A., 2019, www.tomatis.com/en/short.
University of Adelaide. “Using Ultrasound to Control Toxic Algal Blooms.” Phys.org, 7 July 2010, phys.org/news/2010-07-ultrasound-toxic-algal-blooms.html.
University of Glasgow. “Sound-like Bubbles Whizzing Around in DNA are Essential to Life.” Phys.org, 2 June 2016, phys.org/news/2016-06-sound-like-whizzing-dna-essential-life.html.