Why did violins slowly develop f-shaped sound-holes? Because it makes them more acoustically powerful than their ancestors, which had holes shaped liked a circle -- as a team of MIT scientists recently concluded.
Back in the the 10th century, the makers of European stringed-instruments were building "fitheles" -- the ancestor of the modern violin -- but they used round holes. By the 12th century, they'd started using half-moon shapes, and a century later they'd refined it to a sort of C-shaped hole. Then in the 15th century they pioneered little circles at the ends of the holes, which, by the 17th century, had become the modern f-shaped hole.
A team of MIT scientists recently wondered why the shape had evolved that way. After crunching the math and doing some experiments, figured it out: The f-shape turns out to have physics that push a lot more air than a circular hole, making the violin's output dramatically more powerful. From the Economist:
"The answer, arrived at after several pages of advanced mathematics, and confirmed by experiment, is that holes’ sound-amplification properties depend not on their areas but on the lengths of their peripheries. They showed how the shape of the hole varied over the centuries, and how that affected its power output. The final Cremonese design had twice the sonic power of the circular holes of the fithele."
The entire paper by the MIT team is online here
and is pretty interesting too. That image above shows the gist of what's going on: You can see how the f-shape drives much more air-flow than the round one, with high air-flow marked as yellow and red. Below, an image from the paper showing the increase in power as the shape changes over time.
Crosby, Stills & Nash recorded this theme song for War Games, the seminal hacker film of 1983. The tune was heard in movie trailers and in this promotional video that aired on MTV but was apparently pulled from the film. The song, “War Games,” was included on the band’s album Allies. From the lyrics: I […]
DJ Cummerbund noticed that the world needed a mashup of “Crazy Train” and “September,” and the world became a better place. The mashed up video is icing on the cake.
Given my own penchant in the 1980s for black clothing, black eyeliner, and Bauhaus, I was delighted by Dan Adams’s TED-Ed video “A brief history of goths.” And if you find yourself in that delightfully dark place, please enjoy these classics:
The Ticwatch 2 Active Smartwatch is a simpler take on an active wearable that raised over $2m dollars on Kickstarter and is currently offered in the Boing Boing Store.Somewhere in between the single-day battery life and platform-specificity of the Apple Watch and Android Wear devices, there exists the Ticwatch. Instead of trying to shoehorn another […]
Loot Crate is a subscription service that delivers a box of curated pop culture goods to your doorstep. To sample their geeky wares, you can order a single mystery box exclusively from the Boing Boing Store.Each month Loot Crate sends you 6-7 unique items and apparel, including collectibles, books, and t-shirts. Pulling inspiration from all […]
Yes, yes there is. The ultraportable Twisty Glass Mini boasts all of the simplicity of its forebear, while fitting just a little bit better in your pocket.The Mini is perfect for casual smokers, and anyone who doesn’t have the patience or fine motor skill for rolling papers. This piece keeps the convenient design of its older […]