Make video about visible sound and vibration

Collin Cunningham of MAKE produced this fun video about cymatics, the study of visible sound and vibration. As he shows, you can have a lot of fun with cornstarch, water, tone generator software, a guitar amp, and a speaker.

Collin's Lab Notes: DIY Cymatics


  1. You can have a lot of fun with cornstarch and water. Period. Everything else is just props and accessories for having fun with oobleck :D

    Shear thickening liquids for the win!

  2. This looks very interesting and the video was fun, but what is cymetics used for? I assume it’s more looking at sound waves on the computer rather than corn-starch monsters, but I would be curious as to what we use cymetics for.

  3. Artist / painter named Perry Hall has been creating much more beautiful and artistic work using sound waves and paint, for quite some time– called sound drawings. Made his first experiments like thse when working with John Gaeta for tests on a film over 10 years ago. His work has been in the Smithsonian, shown all over the globe:

    he also has a lot of work where he makes oil paint move, acrylics behave in different ways. A lot of images on the website

  4. Was this inspired by “The Big Bang Theory” episode where they had cornstarch/water mix on a woofer?
    Its great either way!

  5. Very cool. I wonder if you could get any results at all with actual music being played through it rather than just tones.

    I’ve made an experimental iTunes visualizer that pushes and pulls 3d shapes (google for Manifesto visualizer) but it is operating on a collection of twisted tubes rather than a lumpy mass. Perhaps some lumpy mass visualizations would be a fun avenue for future research.

  6. The coolest trip of my life was just like that, except in technicolor, slow motion, and accompanied by an original symphonic composition my brain wrote just for that occasion. (I can’t play any instrument and have no musical talent that I know of.) The only time I’ve ever had synaesthesia. Unforgettable.

  7. Words to impress people when talking about the cornstarch/water mixture:


    And the opposite — for things that get less thick when stirred/agitated:


    Use these words with caution.

  8. Addendum to #13 — because some geek is going correct your use of rheopectic when referring to cornstarch/water — look it up. ;-)

  9. Have people run out of things to post about? A simple search on the ‘google custom search’ using the search term ‘corn starch’ reveals 2 posts about speakers and corn starch, and ‘non Newtonian’ behavior. Honestly I’ve been shy about trying to post things out of fear of rejection, but if just reposting the same subject or bringing to attention the latest Worth 1000 contest is worth a post on my favorite blog, I guess I could try sumbitting something more novel.

    That said, it’s always cool to see weird blobs move around.

    1. skeletoncityrepeater,

      You probably should avoid Icanhascheezburger. It’s fifty of the same joke every day for years. And it never gets old.

  10. That’s not Cthulhu, it’s a dwarf shoggoth!

    Very cool.

    #15, stop complaining about the flavour of the free ice cream…

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