Musica Universalis: The Music of the Spheres

Musica Universalis? Music of the Spheres? Does this mean anything to you?

Thanks to Pythagoras, it was a widely held belief among the ancient Greeks that the different celestial bodies were related to each other by ratios that coincided perfectly with musical intervals.

“Musica” did not refer to music literally, but more like the frequencies at which different celestial bodies vibrate and how they move together harmonically.

Flash forward 2,500 years.

Scientists have recently discovered that stars have their own specific resonant vibrations. Just like a musical note. This “hum” is thousands of times below our range of hearing, and can’t manifest itself as sound while it passes through space. Instead, it is propagated through electromagnetically charged fields carrying subatomic particles, known as solar winds. These solar winds permeate and surround our solar system, creating a kind of bubble in space, like a terrarium. This is  known as the heliosphere.

Courtesy of NASA, 11/28/2007 (public domain)

Audible representations of the Music of the Spheres, created with computer synthesis, can be heard here. Definitely check out the rings of Saturn.

Some of these are pretty quiet, you may need your headphones.

Think about the technology now available and the vastly different research methods of two and a half millennia ago. It is truly amazing that Pythagoras could theorize about such a complex and incredible phenomenon as his “Music of the Spheres.”

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