New Year's acoustics

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Poujol, Mathis, Régis Wunenburger, François Ollivier, Arnaud Antkowiak, and Juliette Pierre. "Sound of effervescence.Physical Review Fluids 6, no. 1 (2021): 013604:

Capillary bubbles burst at a free surface following a rapid sequence of events occurring at different length scales and timescales: hole nucleation, fast retraction of the micron-thick liquid film in a few microseconds preluding the much slower overall collapse of the millimeter-sized bubble in a matter of milliseconds. Each of these steps is associated with unsteady fluid forces and accelerations, and therefore with sound radiation. In this experimental study we focus on the airborne sound generated during bubble bursting. Investigating the physical mechanism at the root of sound emission with the help of synchronized fast imaging and sound recordings, we quantitatively link the film retraction dynamics with the frequency content of the acoustic signal. We demonstrate that, contrary to a Minnaert resonance scenario, the frequency here drifts and increases, consistent with a Helmholtz-type resonance of the cavity being more and more opened as the thin film retracts. We propose as an extension a simple model based on a collection of drifting Helmholtz resonators capturing the main features of the fizzing sound of an effervescing beverage.

According to Wikipedia,

The Minnaert resonance is a phenomenon associated with a gas bubble pulsating at its natural frequency in a liquid, neglecting the effects of surface tension and viscous attenuation. It is the frequency of the sound made by a drop of water from a tap falling in water underneath, trapping a bubble of air as it falls.

The original publication on this topic seems to have been Marcel Minnaert, "On musical air-bubbles and the sound of running water", The London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science, 1933:

Physicists have hardly ever investigated the sounds of running water. As a matter of fact we know very little about the murmur of the brook, the roar of the cataract, or the humming of the sea. It is in conformity with the essence of the physical method that we should begin by reducing such acoustical complexes to much simpler elementary phenomena.

In contrast,

Helmholtz resonance or wind throb is the phenomenon of air resonance in a cavity, such as when one blows across the top of an empty bottle. The name comes from a device created in the 1850s by Hermann von Helmholtz, the Helmholtz resonator, which he used to identify the various frequencies or musical pitches present in music and other complex sounds.

In this case, the original publication (in Alexander John Ellis's English translation) was "On the sensations of tone as a physiological basis for the theory of music", 1885 (original German edition 1870).

What does this have to do with linguistics? A clue may be found in (the English translation of) Helmholtz's preface to the first edition:

In laying before the Public the result of eight years' labour, I must first pay a debt of gratitude. The following investigations could not have been accomplished without the construction of new instruments, which did not enter into the inventory of a Physiological Institute, and which far exceeded in cost the usual resources of a German philosopher. The means for obtaining them have come to me from unusual sources. The apparatus for the artificial construction of vowels, described on pp. 121 to 126 , I owe to the munificence of his Majesty King Maximilian of Bavaria, to whom German science is indebted, on so many of its fields, for ever ready sympathy and assistance . For the construction of my Harmonium in perfectly natural intonation , described on p. 316 , ΙI was able to use the Soemmering prize which had been awarded me by the Senckenberg Physical Society ( die Senckenbergische naturforschende Gesellschaft) at Frankfurt-on-the-Main. While publicly repeating the expression of my gratitude for this assistance in my investigations, I hope that the investigations themselves as set forth in this book will prove far better than mere words how earnestly I have endeavoured to make a worthy use of the means thus placed at my command.

A more complete explanation will be provided in a series of posts soon to appear — for this evening, I recommend experimentation with acoustics of effervescence.

[h/t Neville Ryant]



  1. Haamu said,

    December 31, 2021 @ 6:13 pm

    I am not familiar with "the humming of the sea" and began to wonder whether that is an actual phenomenon or an allusion to Wallace Stevens, but it looks like Minnaert beat Stevens to it by about six years.

    Stevens published "The Woman That Had More Babies Than That" in the Partisan Review in 1939, wherein he wrote

    The children are men, old men,
    Who, when they think and speak of the central man,
    Of the humming of the central man, the whole sound
    Of the sea, the central humming of the sea,
    Are old men breathed on by a maternal voice,
    Children and old men and philosophers,
    Bald heads with their mother’s voice still in their ears.

    I have listened to many seas, but none have seemed to hum. (Might be different if you're underwater, though?) I may just need to broaden my conception of that word.

    Thanks for bringing me back in a roundabout way to a poet I have neglected for too long. Look, there's my first resolution for the new year….

  2. Philip Taylor said,

    December 31, 2021 @ 8:22 pm

    I confess that I have never before seen Frankfurt am Main translated into any language, let alone translated as "Frankfurt-on-the-Main". It may well mean that, but would a German translator be tempted to attempt to render "Much Binding in the Marsh" in his/her native tongue, or would he simply leave it as-is ?

  3. Morten Jonsson said,

    December 31, 2021 @ 9:18 pm

    @Philip Taylor

    The translation is from 1885. On Google Books, I'm finding that most uses of "Frankfurt on the Main" (with or without hyphens) are either from the nineteenth century or from continental publishers, such as Brill and Springer, that don't necessarily follow the conventions of the English-speaking world in their English texts.

  4. Y said,

    December 31, 2021 @ 9:30 pm

    There is a connection with speech, too. Dorsal fricatives and trills with a wet mouth produce sounds due to the formation and breaking of liquid drops or films, which do not occur with this kind of articulation in a dry mouth.

  5. Christian Weisgerber said,

    January 1, 2022 @ 10:32 am

    @Philip Taylor
    I am immediately reminded of Rostov-on-Don.

  6. David Marjanović said,

    January 1, 2022 @ 10:42 am

    I'm actually surprised they didn't render it Francfort in 1885. (This continues to be the French form.)

  7. Olaf Zimmermann said,

    January 1, 2022 @ 5:17 pm

    Helmholtz's (1863) foreword makes me think of a paper by Craig Loehle (1990), in which the latter writes:

    What would have happened if Darwin
    and Einstein as young men had needed to apply
    for government support? Their probability of getting past the grant reviewers would be similar to a snowball surviving in Hell
    Proposal of C Darwin
    This proposal is for rhe P.I. , a geologist by
    training, to solve the problem of speciation.
    Method: collect every possible fact and for-
    mulate an all–inclusive theory.
    Duration: 20 years.
    Proposal of A. Einstein
    This proposal is for the study of the nature
    of space and time.
    Method: Conduct thought experiments in
    armchair, supported by abstract mathematics.
    Duration: 1 lifetime.

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