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Music and the Making of Modern Science$
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Peter Pesic

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262027274

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262027274.001.0001

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Hearing the Field

Hearing the Field

(p.195) 13 Hearing the Field
Music and the Making of Modern Science

Peter Pesic

The MIT Press

The entwined stories of Charles Wheatstone and Michael Faraday interwove sound and electromagnetism, as had Hans Christian Ørsted’s original discoveries in that field. Though Faraday lacked mathematical education, his feeling for music complemented his visual and experimental turn of mind. Wheatstone also lacked scientific education but came from a family of instrument builders and invented a number of musical devices, including the concertina. Wheatstone extended Ernst Chladni’s work to investigate dynamic, transient vibrations of bodies, especially the transmission of sound along rods. In his lectures at the Royal Institution, Faraday demonstrated Wheatstone’s ongoing work, including some experiments involving Javanese instruments and guimbardes (“Jew’s harp”). This chapter discusses how their unusual collaboration led Wheatstone to discover telegraphy and Faraday to the intensive investigations of sound immediately preceding and preparing his discovery of electromagnetic induction, as indicated by his notebooks and letters. Throughout the book where various sound examples are referenced, please see http://mitpress.mit.edu/musicandmodernscience (please note that the sound examples should be viewed in Chrome or Safari Web browsers).

Keywords:   Michael Faraday, Charles Wheatstone, Music, Vibrating bodies, Royal Institution, Javanese instruments, Guimbarde (“Jew’s harp”), Electromagnetic induction, Telegraphy

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