Helmholtz described in his 1862 [sic] book, On the Sensations of Tone, an apparatus able to pick out specific frequencies from a sound. The Helmholtz resonator, as it is now called, consists of a rigid container of a known volume, nearly spherical in shape, with a small neck and hole in one end and a larger hole in the other end to admit the sound.
Invented by John Shore in 1711, the tuning fork was initially used by musicians. After Chladni’s studies of its vibrations, however, it was also extensively employed by acousticians, who praised the purity of its sound. Hermann von Helmholtz, especially, based his experiments with beats, combination tones, and simple tones on tuning forks attached to resonators that enhanced their suitability for experimentation.
This apparatus consists of three wires, each bent to resemble transverse waves. The wires are mounted in a rectangular brass box that was placed in front of the lens of a projector. The top two wires are identical, but positioned so that their shadows appear to move in opposite directions as a crank on the side of the box is turned. As they do this, the crests and troughs of the waves alternately lineup and overlap. The corresponding “interference” of the two waves is seen in the changing shape of the third wire.
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