Phonon

Sound and the Crystalline Body

by Anasuya Krishnaswamy

As we transition from winter to spring in the northern hemisphere, we may have gained some insight during the shorter days, which we want to bring out into the light. We may have heard or experienced that this place of the dark, the void, is the place from which creation springs forth. Perhaps true, but I want to suggest that it is a destination in and of itself, a space to intentionally go to, spend time in, celebrate, and be with. Simply because there are inherent benefits of being there. This is a place of least resistance, of surrender. It is a place of going inward to experience the silence of the mind, the gap between sounds, the gap between thoughts.

This article is inspired by my participation in the Sound, Voice, and Music Healing certificate program created by Silvia Nakkach at the California Institute of Integral Studies. I consider the parallels, complementarity, and relationship between the energy work we practice and the sound healing modalities. And, of course, due to my background science, one of the lenses that I’m peering through is a microscopic, or nanoscopic lens.

Sound is created by shaking up molecules (electrons, protons, and neutrons), so they vibrate. Protons, neutrons, and electrons make up what we usually think of as matter, including the physical body, and the movement of electrons is responsible for the biochemistry of our bodies. When air molecules vibrate, we hear that vibration, either through the ear or through the bones (the way we hear under water).

A phonon wave with wavelength, lambda.

 

If the next paragraph gets too technical, skip ahead a couple of paragraphs.

Although physicists will distinguish between light waves and sounds waves on the macroscopic level, when we look at the level of the small, where we track electron motion through crystal structures (our body contains many organic crystalline structures), sound also comes in quanta of energy, and can exchange energy with electrons, just as light exchanges energy with electrons.

In this nanoscopic perspective sound (phonon energy) is proton and neutron vibration, this vibration can shake and move electrons. Electromagnetic energy in the form of photons (light) can also move electrons. Photons (light) move through our body, sending information from one place to another. Actually, some information seems to be sent instantaneously in a way that is not compatible with the idea that communication happens through the physical body along nerves channels.

It seems that not only within our body, but also between our bodies, information transfer must include a non-local, outside of spacetime as we think of it, explanation.1,2,3  And there are particles predicted by our unified field theories that we have not observed with our electronic instruments yet.4,5  How will science describe the information transfer of these quanta of energy? Furthermore, even macroscopic mechanical systems can exhibit quantum states, thus leading to the idea that our bodies and our beings can too.6

The movement of sound (and electromagnetic energy) can be cacophonous, have tension and release, and have a quality of connectedness and coherence, among other things. All of these are important aspects of our being, all to be accepted and celebrated. In this article I want to look through the nanoscopic lens at the qualities of connectedness and coherence. I want to describe a state of matter called superconductivity.

When a crystal structure comes into the state of superconductivity, pairs of electrons move together, and they are coupled to the nearby matter via lattice vibrations (phonons, sound vibrations of the atoms).7  In order to describe this process mathematically, we can no longer use the “independent electron approximation” or consider electrons as independent actors. If we do, the mathematics does not work out, and we can’t describe the situation we observe in the laboratory. These pairs of electrons do not collide with the atoms, the process that causes resistance. Instead, these pairs of electrons dance in step with atomic vibrations. The particles that make up matter move in a rhythmic, synchronistic, dance. And no light (photon) is required.

Abstract picture of electron-phonon interaction in a high temperature superconductor. These geometries do not have a one-to-one correspondence to our familiar 3-D space. Just enjoy the visuals.

This is the wisdom in the dark. It can be a place of least resistance, of surrender, of the gap between thoughts.

Humans have been using sound and music, dancing with the technology of pitch (frequency) and rhythm and harmony for at least tens of thousands of years. Ancient instruments have been found all over the world, and many traditions are still intact. For instance, Sanskrit chanting/singing is an advanced and ancient science and practice to invoke particular energies during particular times of day and season, to align with the music of the cosmos.

The mathematical intervals in Pythagoras’ music of the spheres from 2000 years ago permeate the movements of celestial bodies, the quantum energy states of the atom, and the vibrating modes of strings in string theory. And in all these realms, it is not the frequency itself that is important, but the relationship between frequencies. The calculation of possible vibrating modes in an instrument is a similar mathematical process to the calculation of possible vibrating modes of the atom, the electron, and the photon. And yet, in the quantum mechanical calculation, the wave modes are an abstraction, outside of space and time, while the vibrational modes of an instrument are felt in a present moment within space and time.

These vibrating modes are connected in a sublime way, and sound seems to be a bridge between the place outside of space and time to the present moment. We can feel this connection, be in this channel of movement and wisdom if we surrender and come to the place of least resistance. We don’t have to do it in that order. We can let the music take us there. Here is Kepler (in 1619) being quoted from his “The Harmonies of the World” in Physics Today (2002)8:

The heavenly motions are nothing but a continuous song for several voices, to be perceived by the intellect, not by the ear; a music which, through discordant tensions, through syncopations and cadenzas as it were, progresses towards certain predesigned six-voiced cadences, and there-by sets landmarks in the immeasurable flow of time.

A friend reminded me recently of a story of Krishna and Arjuna (Bhagavad Gita). Krishna likens Arjuna to his flute. When the flute is empty, then divine music can come through, and the dynamic movement can be a beautiful and joyous experience for the flute. But when the flute is full of…you name it, then Krishna will still be sending the divine music through, but the flute will not experience the beauty and the joy.9

Energy vibrating creates form, as any mystic and any physicist will tell you. In the dark, in acceptance and surrender, sound can be a powerful healing tool – a call to the primordial conscious force to renew and recreate our being.

References:

1Lynne McTaggart, The Intention Experiment (New York: Free Press, A Division of Simon and Schuster, Inc., 2007)

2Mae-Wan Ho (Bioelectrodynamic Laboratory, Open University, UK) “Quantum Coherence and Conscious Experience,” Kybernetes 26, 265-276, 1997.

3Dean Radin, Entangled Minds (New York: Pocket Books, A Division of Simon and Schuster, Inc. 2006)

4John H. Schwarz, “Ch. 15: Superstring Unification,” in 300 Years of Gravitation, edited by Stephen Hawking and Werner Israel (Great Britain, Cambridge University Press, 1987)

5Brian Greene, The Elegant Universe (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 2003)

6A.D. O’Connell, et. al, “Quantum ground state and single-phonon control of a mechanical resonator,” Nature, vol. 464, p.697-703, April, 2010.

7Neil W. Ashcroft and N. David Mermin, Solid State Physics (USA: Saunders College Publishing, 1976)

8George N. Gibson and Ian D. Johnston, “New Themes and Audiences for the Physics of Music,” Physics Today, January, 2002.

9Sailesh Rao, Founder of Climate Healers, author of “Carbon Dharma: The Occupation of the Butterflies” 2011 www.climatehealers.org

Images:

http://chemistrydaily.com/chemistry/Phonon

http://arpes.stanford.edu/research_electronphonon.html