Friday, October 12, 2007


I've always been intrigued by science. Every now and then, watching a Discovery Channel program or a sci-fi movie would inspire me to dig into some books or online resources to review some of what I've learned in the past. A healthy mental exercise, indeed, but it can also be unsettling. You see, it also jolts me into realizing just how forgetful I am fast becoming. Goodness, what is one to do with this toll of getting on with the years?

Anyway, one of the books I bought in New York and haven't read at all is "The Power of Sound" by Joshua Leeds. Last night, unable to fall asleep, I decided to get up and pick a book from the shelf hoping it would lull me into the arms of Morpheus. I chose this one, but it turned out to be a big mistake. It kept me up because I got engrossed by it.

Anyway, here's the part from the book I'd like to share with you:

According to the author, although it's a great concept, it isn't true that only speed and perception distinguish light from sound just because they're both by-products of frequency. He argues that the only similarities of light and sound are:

- They both move swiftly through space as waves,
- They both can be perceived by the sensory organs in our head,
- They both emanate from vibrations and measured in Hz,
- All humans love both of them.

Now, here's what makes them different from one another:

In terms of speed, light moves at the astonishing rate of 186,000 miles per second, while sound travels at a mere 770 miles per hour. Hence in only five seconds, sound has only traveled a single mile; whereas, light has already traveled thirty-seven times around the globe (930,000 miles). This explains why we hear the thunder long after its accompanying lightning has come and gone.

In terms of waves, light moves transversely (crossing side to side) in direct lines, while sound move spherically on longitudinal waves.

In terms of material, light depends on an electrical exchange of energy, independent from any physical matter, and can travel through the vacuum of space. Sound, on the other hand, depends on the displacement of molecules of physical matter. And for its waveform to exist, sound requires solids, gas, liquids, and so on; otherwise it won't play.

In terms of constancy, the speed of light rarely changes. The speed of sound absolutely changes based on the environment.

In terms of consistency, light is an electromagnetic force. From the slowest frequencies to the fastest, its frequencies are: radio waves, microwaves, infrared, and ultraviolet. Sound totally relies on physical matter.

Although humans are composed of the same basic components of light and sound, light is electromagnetic and sound is physical matter (atoms and molecules); hence we are tuned to handle the vibrations of sound more easily than those of light. We are able to vibrate with sound simply because we all have the capacity to hear and produce sound. On the other hand, it requires a fairly advanced art form for humans to create light from their minds and bodies.

And since we are gifted with the ability to create sounds from our bodies, therefore, we have a tool to tap into the greater sonic stream and at the same time be resonated by it. In other words, sound can be our access to higher realms previously closed to us without our conscious awareness.

Furthermore, as opposed to light, sound is available for us to play with, manipulate, mold, and get lost in space with (such as while in a sheer state of ecstasy or simply daydreaming while listening to a favorite tune). At a mere speed of 1,100 feet per second, sound is, indeed, very much within our human conceptual and practical reach.

No wonder, our entire planet vibrates to the rhythms and sounds of music; striking a chord within each and everyone of us in such a way that cannot be expressed easily in words. And for centuries, sound has been used by man to either inflict mental anguish or heal an ailing body, including soothing a troubled soul.

* * *

As always, fellow bloggers savvy with the subject of science are invited to toss in their thoughts, corrections, or arguments so as to better enlighten us interested laymen.


posted by Señor Enrique at 9:03 AM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I learned a lot! Thanks for this.

To keep an ever sharp mind, Eric, one has to keep learning. :)

I view sound and light this way: Sound is the BODY while light is the SPIRIT. :)

October 12, 2007 9:49 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That book sounds like a good read. I'll check it out at the bookstores.


October 12, 2007 11:59 AM  

Blogger Amadeo said...

The primary component of light which is called photon is itself very mysterious.

Scientists think of it either as wave or pulse.

It is indestructible and science cannot determine its origins. If one tries to break it down or destroy it, it instead creates a new thing or things.

Ever wondered why in Holy Scripture light symbolizes profound things, like knowledge, wisdom, and even Christ is referred to as the light?

October 12, 2007 12:26 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I got this book along with a couple of more books, Kyels, at Borders on 57th Street and 6th Avenue in Manhattan while waiting for a friend. I had absolutely no idea why I bought it, except perhaps, for its title. When I got home, browsed through it, but never felt any desire to read it so I shipped it to Manila. It was only last night that I took it from its shelf and made an attempt to read it.

And so far, I'm completely enraptured by it.

October 12, 2007 12:30 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That is why I try to keep on learning, Rhoda, although the ability to retain the information tends to get cranky on me :)

Interesting analogy you have, Rhoda, with light being SPIRIT, because it heightens my hunch that somehow someone somewhere has somewhat learned and mastered this "fairly advanced art form to create light from his mind and body" much the same way as Mang Mario and his clan are able to light up a mango tree with those swirling colorful lights ... hehehe!

Could that someone be David Blaine or David Copperfield, perhaps?

October 12, 2007 12:37 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

"It is indestructible and science cannot determine its origins. If one tries to break it down or destroy it, it instead creates a new thing or things."

Now, that's something really worth thinking about, Amadeo.

By the way, let's not forget, either, God's initial command at the time of creation -- "Let there be light!"

October 12, 2007 12:54 PM  

Blogger ScroochChronicles said...

Wow!! Very informative. I sort of got lost somewhere between the lightning and thunder explanation. At least that part stuck. So ganun pala yun. Anyways, thanks for the info. I learned something new today.

BTW, what is that thing in your pic? It looks like a caviar and a lighted orange.

October 12, 2007 1:05 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That's probably why I was never excited to read this book after having bought it, Scrooch -- full of those scientific stuff ... hehehe!

The picture is my best effort with available stuff I found inside the house to represent my interpretation of light and sound in our vast universe. Does it may any sense? :)

October 12, 2007 2:54 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

and that's why i love both of them...sound and light.
i'm a music person, knows how to play the piano and into little singing also, and i'm an audio engineer, that's the kind of work i'm into.
now photography is my passion, and they say that photography is playing with light... :)
so i'm engrossed in both worlds, hehehe...

October 12, 2007 9:16 PM  

Blogger Android Eyes said...

It's the latest fad if not rage here in North America if not the world!
I see a lot of people, by that I mean mature population, have this handheld device on subways, sidewalks etc....
Could be a propaganda! LOL

October 13, 2007 1:15 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Wow! Light and sound expert ka nga kung ganoon, Lino. Congratulations! Have you any ambition to also dabble as a recording engineering? That can be fun as well, especially since you're also a musician.

By the way, I love your series of photographs on Washington, DC. Bravo!

October 13, 2007 7:17 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Wow! I'd like to have one of these, Romy. I wonder if they have them in Manila, yet.

October 13, 2007 7:19 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Aside from that interesting abstract image, that was indeed an interesting reading as well.

I've always though humans and everything are made of vibrations. And some talented people can control vibrations increasing it to higher levels.

Light on the other hand is also interesing. I've alwys thought photographers are great in capturing light. While visual artist like painters knows how to manipulate light to the form they chose and visualize.

October 13, 2007 9:27 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

A fine observation, Ferdz, and I agree with you completely!

Many thanks!

October 14, 2007 7:43 AM  

Blogger -= dave =- said...

Einstein's Nobel prize-winning idea is that light is both particle (photon) and wave (electromagnetic radiation). It was also his theory that the speed of light is constant. I must emphasize that these are still theories (although parts of it are slowly being verified by recent experiments), but it works in its purpose of explaining most aspects of the universe.

October 14, 2007 3:39 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Many thanks, Dave. Somehow, I had a feeling you'd have something very interesting to add to this discussion :)

October 14, 2007 4:55 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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