Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The "ph" in standing waves stands for poetry

The Physics of Music class was given a similar charge to the AP Physics class, to write poems about standing waves, resonance, or the physics of music in general. Does Physics of Music attract the more creative types? You decide.

node, antinode, node
you would think it was some kind of code
but in strings and a open tube
wavelength equals length over n times two

Node here, node there
but no movement
Antinode here, antinode there
Where did it go?

Physics is actually really hard
This is not the poem of a traveling bard
Beacuase it's really lame
But - resonance is cool
And music is awesome!

standing waves, oh how they stand
y = 2A cos (2πx/λ) cos 2πft is how they do it
if the medium they're in let's them stand
then they resonate, that's about it

Standing waves are really cool
Resonance makes them work.
Learning about them relieves the taste of gruel
and it doesn't even make you a dork.

Standing waves do not stand
they resonate

Waves vibrating in the distance
Slowly forming words
Resonating light accompanies the letters.
Physics of Music reigns supreme!

You stay in one place all day
You're not going anywhere anyway
You looked best on that bridge in the movay (movie - ghetto version)
You're on every string I play.

As I take a shower, I sing a diddly tune,
certain one "vibrate" and I think its coming from the moon
but I realize its only one frequency,
hence meaning its resonance.

Haikus were back with a vengeance:

Waves Haiku

(5) standing waves are fun.
(7) Which like phyics is spelled with
(5) a "P." "H.", not "f."

5 Physics of Music
7 Oh how resonance is great
5 Guitars, flutes, and boots



the odd world we see -
sounds sounding, bridges falling:
man is physics phun

"Haikus for Waves"

Waves, I say, unite!
For you must stand against those
who resist your sound.

Tuba or kazoo,
Sing your supersonic boom
and crush oppression

Another student thought a haiku was 3-5-3:

Wave Haiku
music waves
they can resonate
to make sounds

More haiku innovation, this time with the 7-7-7 form:

Resonance is confusing
Standing waves are important
I like Physics of Music

One student wrote an acrostic, which they called a "line poem":

P - phun
h - hungry
y - yearn for waves
s - slinky day
i - intensity of the power
c - calculator
s - songs

This student said "I hate sappy poetry" while handing in his/her test:

Only for one does my heart resonate
Like a column of air in the wind
I seek the one whose frequency suits me
To release the sound within.

A Sir Mix-a-lot homage:

I like standing waves and I cannot lie,
You other musicians can't deny,
When a girl walks in with a kazoo on her chin,
and a trombone in your face
you resonate.

The minimal approach:

Physics is phun? lol.... no time


  1. World Poetry Day
    would not have resonated
    without BZ's blog.

    -a Ruby K original haiku.

  2. these poems are great bz.
    how did you get them to sign a release? is it generally assumed that physics poetry is in the public domain?

  3. Um... uh-oh. Is a release necessary?

    The College Board publishes sample student responses to the free-response questions on the AP exams each year. Do the students have to sign something for that?

  4. i don't know enough to know whether a release is necessary. my assumption is that students would be concerned if they knew their work was in the public domain. there may be an assumption of privacy when filling out test answers. i am sure all the current and former (formal) educators will have thought through these issues more than i...

  5. A sir mixalot omage, from my calculus class (no joke):
    I like big slopes and I cannot lie,
    Your calculator won't deny
    When you input a function with an itty bitty x
    And maiorano checks you get graph!

    Maiorano was our calc teacher, and I thought you'd appreciate this little ditty since it was written by a fellow physics grad from your school. good times.