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Acoustic Oscillographs

Nature volume 78, page 69 (21 May 1908) | Download Citation



AN interesting addition to the phonograph or the gramophone has been designed and made by Mr. Bowron, of 57 Edgware Road. It is well known that the action of a gramophone depends on a spiral line cut in the record disc. When this line is examined with a magnifying glass, it is seen to consist of numerous small oscillatory curves; as the disc rotates the needle that follows these curves actuates a diaphragm, and thus the sounds are reproduced. In other words, the curve cut on the disc is a graph of the various sounds produced by the instrument. Several years ago Prof. Ewing studied the analysis of vowel sounds by examining the corresponding curves cut on a phonograph record. Mr. Bowron has undertaken the task o of reproducing on a large scale the curves to be found on a gramophone record: he has accomplished this by means of a small mirror, which is mounted so that it oscillates with the diaphragm of the instrument; a beam of light is reflected from this oscillating mirror and from another mirror which rotates uniformly, with the result that a luminous curve of about three feet amplitude can be thrown on a white screen, and so made visible to a large audience. The variations in this luminous curve can be watched while the corresponding sounds are heard; thus the nature of the oscillations produced in the course of a song or the peformance of an orchestra can be most instructively studied.

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