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Levitation by Sound

Published onOct 08, 2019
Levitation by Sound

I enjoy reading this quiet story written by Timothy Dimacali. In the story, a girl learns to master the magical power of levitation by playing a kubing (or jaw harp). I am curious about what a kubing looks like so I researched a bit in order to understand the metaphors better.

It is traditionally considered an intimate instrument as it is usually used as communication between family and couples in the Philippine tribes (wiki).

I used to be a flute player in an orchestra. This story resonates with me a lot as it vividly depicts the subtle and tactile feelings at an attempt to interact with an instrument. When playing the music, the instrument not only serves as a renderer to express the unspeakable emotions, but also becomes an extension of the human body to expand capabilities.

Acoustic Levitation

The speculative idea of converting sound waves into anti-gravity waves is actually possible in reality. Scientists has discovered that the objects can be suspended in mid-air by using sound waves at ultrasonic frequencies. But it usually only works if the objects are tiny enough, which means they should be smaller than sound waves. So how to float a large object such as a flying whale? There is a theoretical concept that we can rotate sound waves to create a sound tornado and the large object can be held in the middle of the vortices.

Magnetic Levitation

It also reminds me of the ZeroN project by MIT media lab a couple of years ago. They envisioned a gesture-based user interface to manipulate floating objects freely in a 3d space. The objects are implemented with a magnetic levitation system controlled by a computer to construct a gravity-defying zone. I’ve found it is fascinating as it provides a haptic way for people to levitate objects, and more importantly, to tangibly interact with digital information.

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