The sound an atom makes

The sound an atom makes September 15, 2014

The ancients believed that the planets and stars were on crystalline spheres, whose turning created harmonics equivalent to our musical notes.  Hence, “the music of the spheres,” signifying the aesthetic order of the cosmos.   We don’t have that cosmology anymore, but we do have quantum physics.  Scientists have isolated the vibration and thus sound of a single atom.  It is the musical note, D.

From Scientists Capture The Sound Of A Single Atom, And Apparently It’s A ‘D-Note’:

What does an atom sound like? Apparently it’s a “D-note.”

That’s according to scientists at Chalmers University of Technology in Göteborg, Sweden, who have revealed in a new study that they’ve captured the sound of a single atom.

“We have opened a new door into the quantum world by talking and listening to atoms,” study co-author Per Delsing, a physics professor at the university, said in a written statement. “Our long term goal is to harness quantum physics so that we can benefit from its laws, for example in extremely fast computers.”

For their study, Delsing and his colleagues constructed an artificial atom 0.01 millimeters long and placed it on the end of a superconducting material. Then they guided sound waves along the surface of the material, bounced sound off of the atom, and recorded what came back using a tiny microphone located on the other end of the material.

On the right, an artificial atom generates sound waves consisting of ripples on the surface of a solid material. The sound, known as a surface acoustic wave is picked up on the left by a “microphone” composed of interlaced metal fingers.

“According to the theory, the sound from the atom is divided into quantum particles,” study co-author Martin Gustafsson, a post-doctoral researcher at Columbia University, said in the statement. “Such a particle is the weakest sound that can be detected.”

That sound was a “D-note” about 20 octaves above the highest note on the piano, which is a pitch much higher than the human ear can detect.


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