Lasers make guitars sound better

We all know that the addition of lasers automatically makes anything look 100% more awesome, but scientists have figured out how to use them make musical instruments sound better too.


Music specifically, and sound in general, comes from objects vibrating in air. Simple concept, but when one vibrating surface (like a guitar string) is amplified by another vibrating surface (like a guitar body) all kinds of complications arise, which is part of the reason why guitars sound good. Using lasers to perform what's called holographic interferometry, researchers at Cardiff University have been able to map vibrations on the micron scale to generate images of how sound emanates from instruments:


In the above image, you can see how a guitar resonates at low, medium, and high frequencies respectively. The reason that one guitar sounds different from another can be traced back to how these vibrational nodes are distributed around each guitar and how they interact with each other at different frequencies.

While we already have a reasonably good idea as to what distinguishes a nice guitar from a terrible guitar, it's harder to tell what makes an epic guitar different from a merely great guitar. By creating detailed maps of how instruments of different quality resonate, it may be possible to scientifically determine how epicness is different from greatness. And from there, we might be able to design a guitar (or any other instrument) with a tonal quality that matches or even surpasses the best instruments currently in existence.

BBC, via io9

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