Resonant Chamber

The other day a friend sent me a fascinating video clip of the most amazing music box device i’d ever seen.  Bear with me here, click on that link now, and watch the video.

Pretty amazing, huh?  I was just stunned, played it over and over, and sent it to a number of friends, most of whom reported enjoying it.  One of them posted it to his Facebook page and told me that it was an overwhelmingly successful post.

I watched it a couple more times, and then noticed something a bit strange.  And if you haven’t yet clicked on the link and watched the damn thing, please do so before you read farther.  I’m serious.  This is a spoiler alert!!!!  Maybe go ahead and watch it twice.

Here’s what caught my eye.  I was watching the section over on the left side with only two strings that functions as a horizontal string bass and noticed that the mechanism that was acting as the left hand and stopping the strings was unlike the other multistring sections in that instead of performing rather like mechanical fingers with joints more or less corresponding to the human wrist, hand, and fingers, the string bass version had a tip somewhat like a two-jointed finger but used a solenoid to throw the “finger” out to the correct point before it then clamped down on the string.

And then i thought, hmmm, must have been a lot of advances in electromechanical solenoid technology in recent decades, as i could not imagine a solenoid having anywhere near that length of stroke.  Went online and browsed around, and the longest stroke i found after a few minutes of searching was way less than one inch.  And all the solenoids i could see had coils with diameters at least five times that of the shaft….unlike the skinny thing on this device.  Worse yet, we do not yet seem to have a solenoid that can be thrown for only part of its stroke, they’re either all or nothing.  So that solenoid looks to me to be impossible.

Then then i looked at the mechanism of the mechanical fingers on the multistring sections, and it was sort of like having my first question about religion and the unsatisfactory answer leading to more questions, which led to more unsatisfactory answers.  In this case,  the functionality of the mechanical fingers also did not seem plausible under close scrutiny.

Oh, and then i noticed things like those vertical harp-like strings that, if you look closely as the camera pans around, you’ll notice are not actually struck by anything and are there purely to make the device look more complex.  Well, OK, an engineer friend pointed out that they might provide some resonant harmonies.

The air was already almost completely out of the balloon, but i went ahead and clicked on and discovered that the name of the company is Computer Animated Music.  Yep.  It’s all fake.  And that said, much of it is quite entertaining.  But this video is the only one of theirs i saw that at first viewing looked like it might be of a real device.

Folks, people are out to fool you, and much of the time not in innocent ways like this one.

Take, for example, the current clamor for us to start bombing Russia to ensure democracy for the freedom-loving folks in Ukraine now that Russia has taken over Crimea.

What i’ve seen very little of in discussion of this crisis is some basic history.  The blunt fact is that in 1954 Comrade Khrushchev turned over governance of Crimea, which was then a part of Russia, to the Soviet Socialist Republic of Ukraine, but leaving Crimea an autonomous republic.  Because dissent in those days was rewarded with a one-way ticket to Siberia, there was little resistance in Crimea at the time even though 90% of the Crimeans were ethnic Russians, spoke Russian rather than Ukrainian, and had no ties to Ukraine other than having raided them for slaves back in the good old days a few centuries ago.  After the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine gained its independence, which left the ethnic Russians as a minority in the nation as a whole even though they were an overwhelming majority in Crimea and in the eastern provinces.

Flash forward to 2014.  When President Yanukovich decreed that he would not continue the push to get Ukraine into the European Union but rather would seek closer ties with Russia, the people revolted and staged a revolution.  Yanukovich fled to Russia and the ethnically Russian parts of Ukraine began their own counter-revolt.  Dissent is particularly strong in Crimea, which as best i can tell remains an autonomous republic where the population has steadfastly refused to learn to speak Ukrainian for the past sixty years, and the Crimean government has scheduled for 16 March a referendum on whether to exercise its autonomy and leave Ukraine for Russia.

What we’re not hearing very much on the news now is that the United States, passionate defender of democracy that it is and absolute advocate of freedom and self-determination for the Ukrainians, is just flat hysterical over the idea of self-determination for the Crimeans.  I mean, since over 90% of ’em don’t even speak Ukrainian, guess who they’re gonna vote to join?  Well, if they’re allowed to vote.  So now we have the hideous spectacle of Putin clamoring for a free vote while Obama declares it should not take place.  Yes, Obama is arguing that people who have endured sixty years of bondage to Ukraine should not be emancipated.

It’s always good to look closely at the mechanism of our music boxes.

A timely pic:

European Collision Center


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