Clang! Ernst Chladni’s Sound Experiments



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What if your science experiments were so interesting that even an Emperor wanted to know more? Clang! is about the cool, simple science of sound experiments, or acoustics.

Traveling Scientist entertains with Sound Experiments: Simple Science Experiments

In 1806, scientist Ernst Chladni (KLOD-nee) left Germany for a three-year road trip, entertaining Europeans with his science experiments.

He made wires, columns of air, and solids vibrate. He wrote about this in his native German language, but his French scientist friends wanted to read about it in French. But how could he get the cash he needed to write his new book?

In February, 1809, Chladni’s friends took him to the Tuliere Palace. This elementary science picture book dramatizes the exciting meeting between a German scientist and French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

Because of his work with sound, Chladni was known as the Father of Acoustics. The book he wrote with Napoleon’s money became the foundation of the study of sound. In his travels, he also picked up meteorites. He was the first scientist to suggest that meteor came from space. He’s also known as the Father of Meteorite Studies.

This book dramatizes the need for international cooperation to advance science. Chaldni’s original book on acoustics was printed in German. But when he rewrote it in French, he rewrote it, adding new concepts, making it the most important book on sound to for the nineteenth century.

Science Experiments to Entertain

Like Bill Nye, the Science Guy today, Chladni popularized science. But during his work as an entertainer, he struggled to find the time and finances do actual research. This story provides a glimpse at the life of Ernst Chladni, the Father of Acoustics. It’s an amazing example of how scientists collaborate internationally. The story is based on Chladni’s own description of the event.


From School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Pattison and Willis introduce Ernst Chladni, aka the Father of Acoustics, to young children through an engaging narrative and colorful cartoon illustrations. Chladni was a German scientist who traveled Europe entertaining people by explaining and demonstrating the science of sound in the early 1800s. The meeting between Chladni and Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte is the main focus of this telling. Willis’s charming artwork provides realistic representations of Chladni’s inventions while staying true to the fun cartoon style of the rest of the story. Pattison includes German and French words, acknowledging the language barrier that the scientist faced when describing his research on the science of sound. Included in the back matter is more information about Chladni’s instruments, his life, and additional historical context. The book can be utilized in the classroom for a variety of curriculum connections from history and science to music. Pattison’s and Willis’s early collaboration Burn: Michael Faraday’s Candle is an equally enjoyable read. VERDICT An additional purchase for elementary school libraries. —Aileen Barton, Sherman Public Library, TX

“CLANG” is the story of Ernst Chaldni, the father of acoustics, and his translation of his book, “Treatment of Acoustics” from German into French, with the help of Napoleon Bonaparte, and some kind French scientists. Chaldni was the first scientist to discover and describe the patterns called sound waves which are characteristics of how sound travels. “CLANG” is both witty, factual, and charmingly illustrated with humorous colored illustrations. A number of funny incidents in the career of Chaldni are interwoven into the story of acoustics’ properties as discovered and described by Chaldni. Begun in 1809, Chaldni’s great “Treatment of Acoustics” is a miraculous true story that involves international cooperation of scientists and diplomats to investigate the truth about sound.

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