Science of light

04-Science of light

Lesson Four

Sound in Relation to Light


    Sound is shown to be the most basic form of vibration, and the study of sound has a place alongside the science of light, due to many of the same characteristics such as wavelength, reflection, refraction, scattering and diffraction: but light is a finer and faster-vibrating form of energy.  The science relating to sound is called acoustics, from the Greek word “akoustikos”, relating to hearing.


    Aristotle and other philosophers and mystics since his time have believed that there was a definite correlation between the color spectrum and that of sound – that sound vibrations touched upon one’s inner color-consciousness, and that colors aroused an inner attunement akin to music.  In more recent times definite charts have been set up which match certain musical notes to corresponding color hues.  They do not all use the same correspondences, therefore more experimentation along these lines will be needed.


    Two systems come to mind which seek to match the octave of the musical keyboard to the color spectrum.  They agree on red, orange and yellow as corresponding to musical notes C, D, and E, respectively.  But at F they diverge as follows:


    F, green-yellow; G, green; A, blue; B, violet.


    F, green; G, blue; A, indigo; and B, violet.


    Science has described a scale of vibrations beginning with two-per-second.  When the number of pulsations per second is repeatedly doubled, a series of octaves results.  Sound has a lower rate of pulsation than light.  These energies move out from the Source in a series of waves, the measurement of each wave being what we call a wave-length.


    The key of C, called “Middle C” in the musical scale, occurs at 256 vibrations per second.  This produces a corresponding effect on the human ear to that of the note.  As one can move up the musical scale, in a similar way one can move up the rate of vibrations by 40 doublings of the vibration of Middle C and arrive at the vibration which produces the speed required for the appearance of the color red.  For at this finer point, the vibrations are produced to which your sight-center responds, receiving the sensation of “red”.


    At the fifteenth octave of measurement, these waves of vibration become inaudible to the human ear.  The octaves from twentieth to thirty-fifty are those of electricity.  The thirty-sixth to forty-fifth, nerve currents in the body.


    Forty-sixth through forty-eighth are octaves of heat vibrations.  Following these are several octaves of light, of which visible light and the whole range of the color spectrum cover only one octave.  (The audible sound range by comparison comprises some 9 or 10 octaves.)    Beyond visible light are 5 octaves of ultra-violet light, 10 octaves of x-rays, and so on.  It goes without saying that some exist as yet undiscovered by science, though hinted at by the old teachers. 

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The Spectrum of Electromagnetic Waves


                                                                                (Note: Boundaries are approximate.

Frequency                                                                           Wave areas overlap from one

(Cycles per second)                                                            to another.)


    A person emits sound stimuli when he speaks; the listener experiences sound through hearing.  Man is surrounded on all sides by the sounds of nature, but he has contrived to manufacture many more, which can produce either pleasure or pain.


To simplify in the extreme, the result of the process of speech is some motion of the air in front of the mouth.  And a person hears because there is some motion of the air at the entrance to his ear.  Sound is the result of motion in some medium.


    The human voice operates by forcing air from the trachea to vibrate the vocal cords.  This in turn sets into vibration the air in the cavities of the throat and mouth, and the resulting disturbance emerges from the lips.



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   There are many kinds of waves.  Light waves are very much shorter than either water waves or sound waves.  Sound waves traveling through the air do not have humps and hollows, as water waves do.  Instead, there are places where the air is slightly squeezed together.  In between, the air is slightly thinned out.  The sound is carried by a set of these pushes and pulls, moving along through the air.  The wave length is the distance between one push and the next.  Sounds that we can hear have wave lengths from less than an inch to as much as 70 feet.


    The velocity of sound waves in air increases with temperature; at room temperature it is about 344 meters (1125 feet) per second, or roughly 767 miles per hour.  This is very much slower than the speed of light.  Therefore the sound of a crash of thunder is heard after the lightning flash is seen.  You can measure the distance of a flash of lightning from where you are standing by counting the number of seconds between seeing it and hearing it.  The delay will be about five seconds per each mile from the flash to you.


    Sound waves, like those of light, are reflected when they strike an appropriate surface.  An echo illustrates this: where a sound bounces off the face of a cliff, for example, and returns toward the direction from which it came.  Speaking in a closed room is easier than in an open space, due to the gentle reflection of sound from the walls and other surfaces, all blending simultaneously.  If reflection is too exaggerated due to hard or metallic surfaces, the echoes may become noticeable, then certain sound-absorbing materials such as cork, fabric, or perforated materials should be introduced to absorb some of the sound.


    The refraction of sound waves is more difficult to detect than that of light, but it does occur.   Sound waves travel faster in warm air than in cold, so that when encountering air layers of different temperature, the sound slightly changes course, usually in an upward direction.  This causes a sound mirage much like a visual mirage, in that the sound will reach the ears as though it came from a different direction. 


    Air currents also cause a variable factor, as sound traveling with the wind moves more easily than against it.  An object waved back and forth with less frequency than 15 cycles per second would not be audible.  An object moving any faster than that should become audible if the intensity is sufficient, and it will remain audible up to a movement of 20,000 cycles per second.  When the frequency is increased beyond that it becomes inaudible to human ears.  These high frequency sounds are called ultrasonic waves.


    Ultrasonic waves tend to travel in beams like light, whereas slow frequency audible sound waves tend to spread in every direction from the source, radiating outward like ripples on a pond into which a stone has been dropped.  But if the frequency is high enough, a beam of sound can be produced.  It is more difficult to produce a beam of sound waves than a beam of light, but it can be done.


   Sound-wave propagation is basically a form of transmission of energy through a medium.  The greater amount of energy transported per unit of time, the greater will be the intensity of the sound wave.  All these things are of vital interest to those working in the field of communications, such as radio, television, telephone, or other media using sound.



Lesson four, page 5


    The power in speech sound waves varies, being much larger for vowels than for consonants.  Hearing with two ears rather than one leads to the ability to detect the direction of sound waves.


    Sound waves set the eardrum into vibration, and this motion is communicated via the bony ossicles (a kind of solid acoustic filter) to the oval window of the cochlea, a spiral cavity.  The flexible basilar membrane in the cochlea can vibrate under the impact of motions of the cochlear fluid.  Fine hairs in the adjacent organ of corti in the cochlea communicate these vibrations to terminals of the auditory nerve.  The system functions as a transducer, converting mechanical energy to neural energy.


    With all the sophisticated devices for both measuring and transmitting sound, there are still two distinct theories of hearing, of how the sound is communicated to the brain.  This is still to be worked out. 


    Noise control is a vital need in life today.  If an employee must work close to an extremely noisy machine, ear defenders (small acoustic filters inserted in the ear canal) may be available.  The human ear is a vulnerable receiver, highly attuned, and deserves a harmonious sound environment.


   “Music hath charms to soothe the savage beast,” and listening to the various types can easily induce different moods or emotions.  Music thus has therapeutic value in treating those with emotional disturbance, or inspiring interest in those who have lapsed into apathy.


    Light classical symphonic music gives the best results generally.  It helps restore inner harmony to one who has gotten off balance.  For the listless person who needs cheering, something a bit livelier would help.  But avoid the hard beat of “rock” music and such.  It has a shattering and disruptive effect on the nervous system, reducing persons to a jittery and unstable condition, and upsetting the harmonies of nature. It can tear down the spiritual work and growth you are attempting to accomplish.


    Animals respond readily to light classical music, when gently played.  Even goldfish seem to enjoy it.  In poultry houses or dairy barns, the output of eggs and milk can be increased with the use of music.  It has been found that carefully selected music, played with taste, not too loud or insistently, aids employees in industry to maintain a better outlook and grow less tired with their work.  Much discrimination is needed here, however.


    The Egyptian hierophant taught that the universe is called forth from chaos by ordered rhythmic sound.  In the beginning of any cycle of manifestation it is the sound vibrations which come into expression before the more rapid pulsations of light.


    It is said by the Hindus that “through sound the world stands.”  They classify sound as having two types, the unlettered and the lettered.  The former is that which could be caused by striking two objects together.  The latter is articulated sound, words and sentences, and conveys intelligence.  Such sound is said to be eternal.


    They reverse the order of our diagram, placing sound as the first of the gunas, or principles, out of which emanated the second principle, that of touch.



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    The secret of mantras has been carefully guarded by the mystics, because “out of sound every form comes, and in sound every form lives.”  They teach that sound is the quality of the Akasha.  It is the all-pervading fifth essence, having the characteristic quality of pure space.  Out of it all things come, and into it all return.


*          *          *

    Music therapy has been used by scientists to aid in correcting mental and emotional conditions,  which respond well to sound.  Changing the mood of the music from sadness to joy, or from vigorous to peaceful has a distinct effect on the feelings of the listener.  Changes in color can produce a similar effect; both music and color work on the psychic consciousness.


    Each ganglion of the sympathetic nervous system is in harmony with a particular musical note, and responds to that note.  Each musical note in turn corresponds with a certain color hue.  As you have experienced, some musical sounds and some colors “jangle” the nerves, while others, more carefully chosen, produce a pleasant or a beneficial reaction.  These can be used selectively under proper conditions to help relieve conditions which are produced primarily by nervous, mental, emotional or psychic causes.


1) Helix   2) Scapha   3) Fossa triangularis   4) Antihelix   5) Concha   6) Antitragus   7) Lobule

8) Mastoid process   9) Bony part of external auditory meatus   10) Facial nerve   11) Styloid process

12) Tympanic membrane   13) Internal cartoid artery   14) Cartilaginous part of Eustachian tube

15) Membranous portion of Eustachian tube   16) Orifice of Eustachian tube in mouth

17) Tensor tympani muscle   18) Auditory nerve   19) Cochlea   20) Stapes   21) Semicircular canals

22) Hammer   23) Anvil   24) Mastoid cells 

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