Acoustics throughout History
Acoustics has been an increasingly active field over the last several decades. But with speech and hearing and music being a part of humanity for millenia, it is not surprising that examples of acoustical research can be found dating back centuries.
Here are some examples of acoustics through the ages:
- 6000 BC: Water wave designs appear on potteries of the Yangshao culture
- 2000 BC: Musical scales and instruments studied in China
- 500 BC: Greek philosopher Pythagoras investigates the properties of vibrating strings that produce pleasing musical intervals
- 350 BC: Aristotle correctly suggests that a sound wave propagates in air through motion of the air
- 20 BC: Vitruvius, a Roman architectural engineer contributes substantially to the acoustic design of theatres
- 1030 AD: Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī posits that the speed of sound is much less than the speed of light
- 1635: French scientist and philosopher Pierre Gassendi makes the earliest known attempt at measuring the speed of sound in air.
- 1636: Marin Mersenne studies of the vibration of stretched strings culminates in the three Mersenne’s laws and his Harmonicorum Libri provides the basis for modern musical acoustics
- 1681: Robert Hooke, an English physicist, is the first to produce a sound wave of known frequency, using a rotating cog wheel as a measuring device
- 1696: French physicist and mathematician Joseph Sauveur coins the term acoustique (acoustics, in English) for the “science of sound”.
- 1787: Chladni introduces a technique of observing standing-wave patterns on vibrating plates by sprinkling sand onto the plates
- 1826:The speed of sound in water is measured by Daniel Colladon, a Swiss physicist
- 1807: The analysis of a complex periodic wave into its spectral components is theoretically established by Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Fourier of France. This is now commonly referred to as the Fourier theorem.
- 1816: The first stethoscope, for the amplification of body sounds, is invented by a French physician, René Laënnec
- 1858: American scientist John LeConte developes a technique for observing the existence of ultrasonic waves with a gas flame, initiating the study of ultrasonics
- 1877: The first device to record and play back sounds, the phonograph, is developed by American inventor Thomas Alva Edison
- 1877: The English physical scientist John William Strutt, 3rd Baron Rayleigh, publishes his two-volume treatise The Theory of Sound after carrying out an enormous variety of acoustic research. This publication marks the beginning of modern acoustics.
- 1898: Wallace Sabine determines the relationship between reverberation time of a room and the room volume, surface wall area and wall absorption — this relationship is now known as the Sabine formula
- 1960: Decades of experimentation on the ear and hearing by Hungarian-born American physicist Georg von Békésy, laying the foundation for the field of cochlear mechanics, culminates in his book Experiments in Hearing