By Jack Sharkey, November 15, 2013

Merriam-Webster defines sound like this:

mechanical radiant energy that is transmitted by longitudinal pressure waves in a material medium (as air) and is the objective cause of hearing

Cymatics is the study of the visualization of sound energy using a physical medium such as sand or water to give a graphic representation to sound waves. 

In the video below, the output of a tone generator is connected to a metal plate covered with sand. More sand is added during the experiment to replace sand that has vibrated off the surface.


The patterns result from the sand being pushed away where the standing waves on the metal plate are the strongest, and gathering where the standing waves are weakest. I know right? Seriously cool.


Here's another video showing a visual representation through a tonoscope of a singer singing Mozart's Una Donna a Quindici Anni. Be patient, because 48 seconds in, you're going to be fairly well amazed.


This video gives a little more background into cymatics and its history:


Now that you've seen what sound looks like, here's a few picture you might find interesting: 

Rose Window, York Minster, UK:


Fresco, Alhambra, Spain:

Alhambra Spain


Buddhist monks in Tibet finish a sand mandala:

Sand Mandala


Leonardo daVinci's original drawing of the Flower of Life:


Cat's Eye Nebula, Outer Space: 

Cat's Eye Nebula


 Patterns similar to those created with sound through cymatics are consistently similar to patterns found throughout nature and human history. Kinda cool.