Mims House is very excited by our March release, CLANG! Ernst Chladni’s Sound Experiments, a story about sound vibrations.
When Mims House published BURN: Michael Faraday’s Candle, we had no idea that it would lead to more science history books. BURN is about Michael Faraday’s famous lecture on how a candle burns. Because elementary science studies light, the book has found a home in many classrooms.
The study of light often accompany studies of sound and sound vibrations. I wondered if there was an equally fascinating story about sound vibrations. So, I went looking for sound stories. This was especially interesting to me because my Master’s degree is in Audiology, or the study of hearing. I worked for a time testing hearing at a doctor’s office, and then teaching at the local deaf school. Sound, or acoustics, has always been fascinating to me.
A Fascinating, Vibrating Story
Clang! is a story of international cooperation among scientists.
Clang! is the story of the Father of Acoustics.
Clang! is the story of an Emperor taking an interest in a scientists experiments with sound vibrations.
The story opens in 1806 when Ernst Chladni . . .
(Wait right there. How do you say that name? KLOD-nee.)
. . . left his home in Wittenberg, Germany for a three year trip.
Most scientists of the time worked for a university, which provided a living, a lab, and funding for their work.
Instead, like Bill Nye the Science Guy, Chladni was a science entertainer and educator. He traveled giving demonstrations of his work to rich people who could act as his patron. He lingered in the Netherlands and Brussels, but finally made his way to Paris.
He arrived in France in 1808.
The French scientists were very interested in his German book, Die Akustik or The Acoustics, about acoustics and asked Chladni to translate it into French. They agreed to help with the French language problems. But Chladni needed funds to live while he did the translation. They had a solution for that, too.
At 7 pm on a Tuesday evening in February 1809, they took Chladni to see Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte!
Chladni showed his experiments, as always, and discussed the math behind acoustics.
The next day, Bonaparte sent Chladni 6000 francs (French dollars) to translate the work.
For me, as a writer, one of the most fascinating things was that I found a discussion of the event in Chladni’s own words! To find such a primary source is amazing! After the audience with Napoleon, Chladni wrote an article about the evening with
Napoleon for the Caecilia, a German music magazine. The article was quoted in his 1888 biography by Franz Melde, Chladni: Life and Times. That means this story is based on Chladni’s own account of his meeting with Napoleon.
In addition, the story is a useful addition to any elementary classroom study of sound and sound vibrations because it discusses vibrating strings, columns of air, and solid materials. Chladni’s own invention, the clavicylinder, is an example that will inspire young STEM students.
The books are available from the Mims House website for 10% discount, or from your favorite educational distributor or online bookstore. It officially launches on March 8. Review copies are available to bloggers or reviewers. Please email Sue Foster.
A Story of Pollen
Even more exciting is that science history will be featured in a forthcoming 2019 book. POLLEN: Darwin’s 130 Year Prediction will follow the pollen of a unique orchid. Look for more in the coming months about this fascinating story.