Drop-less droplets

In a setup that’s equal parts science and Harry Potter, scientists at Argonne National Laboratory acoustically levitate liquids in midair to further critical pharmaceutical reasearch. Using a technology originally developed by NASA to simulate microgravity conditions, the pharmaceutical droplets are suspended in midair using standing waves of inaudible ultrasound generated by small speakers above and below.

By suspending a drug this way—free from any container or other physical contact—scientists can study its various forms and the ways it might be absorbed by the body. Not to mention putting on a pretty cool show in the process!

INTER-NOISE 2012 in NYC

This coming Sunday through Wednesday (August 19-22, 2012) brings INTER-NOISE 2012 to New York City, the 41st International Congress and Exposition on Noise Control Engineering.  We are excited to be presenting two of our favorite projects during the conference: our Subcat Music Studios project in Syracuse, and our contributions to an ongoing study of wind turbine noise in western New York State.

 

The theme of this year’s conference (the largest ever held!) is Quieting the World’s Cities, an especially relevant topic for a conference held in the heart of Times Square.  A free Community Noise Public Outreach workshop will be held on Wednesday 8/22 from 8:30 am – 1:45 pm at the Marriott Marquis, including presentations and discussion on the NYC Noise Control Code and noise in general as a community concern.  A top-notch panel of experts and officials has been assembled for this free workshop, and anyone with an interest in community noise (which should include almost anyone living in New York City) will find it enlightening!

Just how speedy is sound at the Olympics?

Well, it turns out not fast enough!  Years ago, in addition to a traditional starters pistol, Olympic officials started placing loudspeakers behind the athletes so that the sound would reach each athlete at the same time.  It turned out however that the athletes would continue to wait for the sound from the actual starters pistol to arrive.  Even with the loudspeakers, the speed of sound was still slowing down the athletes furthest from the starter pistol.  While we are talking about tiny fractions of a second, with Olympic runners and swimmers, it really makes a difference.  Starting at the Vancouver winter games and this summer in London, they are using a silent pistol that is completely electronic and generates a beep from the loudspeakers only (although it does make a flash).

omega110.jpg  False start: Usain Bolt was caught out in Daegu last summer

[via The Atlanticdailymail.co.uk]

Things that go thump in the night…

Maybe you are familiar with images of the northern lights or perhaps have been lucky enough to see them yourself, but did you know that apparently they also make a sound?  According to space.com, acoustic researchers at Alto University in Finland have identified a clapping sound associated with the aurora borealis that occurs 230 ft above the ground!  Just as is true with most mystery noises, they are brief and faint, require very careful listening as well as very low background noise in order to be heard.   There is an audio recording on here if you want to listen…

aurora borealis

[via space.com, photo: shawn malone www.lakesuperiorphoto.com]

Frozen spring

One of the things one learns studying acoustics (and many other physics topics) is that the behavior of a complicated physical system can often be simplified into an analogy of masses and springs.  The gobs of air that surround us have elasticity and they have mass, and these are the properties that allow waves to travel through the air as sound.

Perhaps a more intuitive example of a spring-mass system can be found in any toy store: the classic Slinky.  The familiar coil toy can be used to demonstrate lots of different wave phenomena (longitudinal waves, transverse waves, standing waves), and when that gets boring, it is more commonly used to demonstrate walking down stairs.

We recently came across this high-speed video of the very interesting spring-mass behavior of an extended Slinky at rest, dropped from height, in which the bottom end of the Slinky seems frozen in mid-air.  There are excellent technical explanations of what is going on out there (and probably on a tricky physics midterm or two), but suffice it to say that it all goes back to the interplay between mass and elasticity as the Slinky simultaneously contracts and falls.

[Via kottke.org, @jenvalentino]

JetBlue lands on the cover of Interior Design!

We had the pleasure of working with HLW on the design of JetBlue’s new headquarters in Long Island City and are happy to share the news that the project is featured in the new issue of Interior Design.  You can read the full article here.