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The Sonic Snuffer
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The Sonic Snuffer
Did You Know?
Recent Projects

"I throw more power into my voice, and now the flame is extinguished" 

Physicist John Tyndall, 1857

The Sonic Snuffer

There's been a recent breakthrough in fighting fires - using sound waves to extinguish flames. Since 1857, scientists have known that sound waves could put out a flame, but they weren't exactly sure why. There have been many experiments, even by the Department of Defense, that have had mixed results. But two students at George Mason University recently unveiled a portable extinguisher that resembles a small wastebasket. The extinguisher is actually a collimator (a tube that focuses the sound) that contains a sub-woofer and amplifier driven by an audio oscillator. Inventors Seth Robinson and Viet Tran simply aim the device at an alcohol-fueled blaze, and within seconds it's out.

Previous efforts in the lab by other researchers involved bulky containers with several loudspeakers. One research group played Nickleback's "How You Remind Me" through subwoofers until certain bass notes put out a candle. But the SMU engineering majors (since graduated) managed to break the portability barrier and figure out which bass frequencies are effective.

The device is still in the development stage, but efforts to bring it to market are progressing. They see immediate uses in the kitchen, on drones over forest fires, and even in space. The "no mess" snuffer will be a welcome sight in the space station to put out small fires. Because traditional chemical extinguishers spray liquids and gases, the remnants can float around a spacecraft and get into delicate electronic equipment.

So how does it work? Sound waves work by oscillating a medium, such as air or liquid. The wave motion of the sound extinguisher displaces the oxygen that fire needs. In addition, cooler air is brought in during the ebbing part of the wave. This is why you can blow out a candle. 

How low does the sound need to be? Robinson and Tran tried ultra-high frequencies, which did vibrate the flame. But they found that frequencies between 30Hz to 60Hz were most effective. As a point of reference, 60Hz is AC electrical hum you might get in an old stereo when something's not plugged in right. You hear 30Hz (and below) coming from those annoying cars with really loud subwoofers. Maybe we shouldn't think of them as an irritating nuisance, but see them as a service to our community. Aren't they really just mobile fire extinguishers? Maybe we could deploy these headbangers to fires. I can see it now – a little red Honda Civic rolling to a fire with tinted windows, a huge spoiler on the back, a dalmatian hanging out the window, and Eminem's "On Fire" thumping from the trunk.

Watch fire being extinguished with sound waves.

Read more about their experiment in The Washington Post and in Physics World.

Did You Know?

  • In 1857, John Tyndall of Ireland discovered that sound waves from his voice would put out a candle.
  • Tyndall was the first to prove that the earth's atmosphere has a greenhouse effect.
  • Tyndall invented a better firefighter respirator, which filtered smoke and noxious gas.
  • Tyndall was the first to climb the Weisshorn, a major peak in the Alps.
  • SMU's Seth Robinson's and Viet Tran's experimental device cost only $600 to make.
  • Their first prototype was only tried on small alcohol-fueled fires.
  • Music is not a good sound source to put out fires because of its inconsistency in tones.
Congratulations to our clients who won GOLD Awards at this year's American Advertising Awards. We are proud to have shared in these productions and success stories:
  • Cornett – University of Kentucky basketball Shorts
  • Cornett – Toyota Tour Video for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky
  • Cornett – Hallway Feeds Brand Film
  • Cornett – University of Kentucky Football 2015 Super Bowl TV spot
  • Cornett – Valvoline DIFM Brand Film
  • Cornett – University of Kentucky Institutional Television spots
  • Keeneland Association – Keeneland Fall Meet :15 TV spot

Recent Projects

 
  • ADR (dialog replacement) with Marina Squirciati for "Chicago Fire" and "Chicago PD" on NBC-TV (Wolf Films, Los Angeles, CA)
  • ISDN Interview with poet Helen Oyoyemi for BBC Arts, Bristol, UK
  • ISDN voice-overs with comedian Godfrey for Cox Cable (Earhole Studios, Chicago, IL)
  • Interview with Men's Health Magazine's "Ultimate Men's Health Guy" winner, Lexington firefighter Tim Boniface (Cocoa Via, New York, NY)
  • Radio spots for Commercial Bank of Grayson (John E. Campbell, Lexington, KY)
  • TV soundtrack for "November Mares Sale" TV (Keeneland, Lexington, KY)
  • KHSAA Sweet 16 radio spot for Kentucky American Water Company
  • Spring national radio/TV campaign for A&W Restaurants (Team Cornett, Lexington, KY)
  • "International Students" recruitment video for Sinclair Community College Dayton (Video Adventures, Dayton, OH)
  • Training and education modules for internal communications and sales training (Lexmark International, Lexington, KY)
  • Video soundtrack for Benchmark Mortgage (Media Unlocked, Lexington, KY)
  • Primary campaign TV spots (Grit Creative, Frankfort, KY)

In Production

  • "Queen of Lost Stars"  Audiobook by Kathryn LeVeque on Audible/Amazon (Brad Wills Narrator)
Copyright © 2016 Dynamix Productions, Inc., All rights reserved.


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