Nylon Tuning Fork

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Nylon Tuning Fork
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Tuning forks are so named because they are used to help tune musical instruments, but they also have a variety of other uses. They are used by audiologists to test for certain kinds of hearing loss, by the police to calibrate the radar guns used to identify speeding vehicles, and by alternative healers as an (unproven) way of improving mental clarity and physical energy. They can also apparently be used by medics to detect a bone fracture in a pinch if no x-ray is available. These applications all rely on the fact that when a tuning fork is struck, that energy is converted into vibrational energy, and its tines oscillate at a particular frequency to produce a specific pitch of note.

This nylon tuning fork is one of a set of 16 made in 2009 by our Director Zoe Laughlin as part of her PhD research. Together these tuning forks investigate the acoustic properties of materials and demonstrate the physics of sound and vibration.

Three principle factors influence the production of sound by a tuning fork: the shape of the fork, and the density and elastic modulus (a measure of stiffness) of the material from which the fork is made. Each of the set of tuning forks is the exact same shape, but is made from a different material (an array of metals, woods, plastics and glass). Playing these tuning forks allows us to directly compare how the density and elastic modulus of each material affects the sound the fork produces.

When these tuning forks are struck, the density and elastic modulus of the material determine how much energy is absorbed and how much is converted into vibrations and audible noise. These material properties will also affect how high or low the note that is produced is (acoustic pitch) as well as how long the tuning fork rings for (acoustic brightness).

This nylon tuning fork is off-white in colour and has a dull matte finish. The fork is relatively warm to the touch. Similar to the spruce tuning fork, it produces no audible sound when struck but can produce a very low note that doesn't ring for long using the pinch technique. The note produced is considerably lower than that produced by the copper tuning fork. The nylon used to manufacture this tuning fork is a food grade nylon. 

Read a research paper about these objects here.

Sample ID: 728


Solid | Object
Nylon | Polymer | Sound | Sound of Materials | Tuning Fork

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