Friday 5 September 2014

Pythagoras would have approved of Dublin’s huge harp

Pythagoras would have approved of Dublin’s huge harp

The Samuel Beckett Bridge, which spans the Liffey, was designed by Santiago Calatrava and opened in 2009. It is 120m in length and 48m high, and it swings open to allow ships to pass up and down the river. The bridge has 31 cable stays to support it. They resemble the strings of a great harp, a symbol of Ireland. One can imagine the cables being plucked by some giant to produce a melody.

In fact, this is what will happen next Saturday at an event to mark the opening of the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival. Structures such as the bridge have natural frequencies of oscillation or “normal modes”. When struck at different points, various tones are produced. Bristol-born composer Tom Lane has written a musical piece using the tones produced when the heavy stays are hammered into oscillation.

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