George Mason University science students have created a fire extinguisher that puts out fires by emitting low frequencies that deprive the flames of oxygen without chemicals, foam or water.
While this doesn't mean that you should grab your trusty 4-string and attempt to put out a house fire, the study does prove what us bass players have always known, and that is the power of low frequencies.
Seth Robertson and Viet Tran are the creators of the device, that looks almost like a regular fire extinguisher, and the two have been testing it and developing ways to use it on a larger scale. The potential of the device could lead to a way to put out fires in places that cannot be reached with water or chemicals.
So how does it work? As music notes get deeper, the amount of air required to produce them increases. That’s why us bass guitarists need big speakers to amplify the notes our instruments create. A deep tone is essentially a blast of air, and the deep hum created by the invention is essentially a regular series of these blasts. The flames are extinguished just as if somebody blew them out.
You're probably wondering why not to simply blow out a blaze using an air compressor or similar device instead of employing an audible hum, right? Well it turns out that sound waves displace oxygen in a particular way, depriving fire of the air it needs to survive. Robertson and Tran found that tones at higher frequencies caused flames to vibrate, but that deeper tones in the range of 30 to 60 hertz kept flames from getting oxygen.
The device consists of an amplifier and a loudspeaker positioned at one end of a cardboard tube, which allows the user to point the sound waves in a certain direction. George Mason University is helping the two students secure a provisional patent for their device.