Here is the full transcript of electronic musician and performer Anthony Holland’s TEDx Talk presentation: Shattering Cancer With Resonant Frequencies at TEDxSkidmoreCollege conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: Shattering cancer with resonant frequencies by Anthony Holland at TEDxSkidmoreCollege
Anthony Holland – Associate Professor, Director of Music Technology, Skidmore College
Usually, I would be standing on this stage over here, conducting the college orchestra, because I’m a music professor.
But tonight I’m going to talk about my moonlight activities in the field of science and how they led to a cancer research lab and an important breakthrough.
Over the past eight years, I’ve had the great pleasure of working with some brilliant and dedicated scientists. They were very open-minded, and we had a common dream: that in the future, children would not have to suffer from cancer or from the terrible side effects of toxic drugs or radiation, because we believed there just had to be a better way. There had to be a better way, and we think we may have found it.
A scientist said, “You’re killing more cancer cells than as if you had used radiation.” That same scientist went on, “If you had spent millions of dollars developing a new drug that killed this many cancer cells, it would be a home run.” This was an astonishing thing to hear, especially for a music professor who had just completed his first experiments in a cancer lab.
But we didn’t use any radiation. We didn’t use any drugs. So what did we do? I have here two identical tuning forks, both tuned to the note A, the note an orchestra tunes to. These forks are both made to vibrate 440 times per second. We say their frequency is 440 hertz. If I tap this fork, putting little pulses of energy into it, the second fork will also vibrate in sympathy, and if I silence this fork, we just may hear the other singing its tone.
[Sound of an A note]
We say that I’m inducing a sympathetic resonant vibration in the second fork. It only works because both forks are tuned to the exact same frequency. Now many of us have seen this very charming young man on the Internet who shatters crystal glasses with his powerful voice. But if you watch him carefully, you’ll see that first he taps the glass with his finger and listens. The glass sings its natural resonant pitch. Then he takes a deep breath and sings a loud, long note. He induces a resonant vibration in the crystal glass. The vibration grows larger and larger and larger until the glass is shattered.
On the other end of this scale, we have a giant bridge made out of concrete and steel, a suspension bridge, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Cars, and trucks, and busses are going over it every day. Unfortunately, where they built this bridge, there was a steady wind blowing across it, and one day, this wind induces a small vibration in the bridge, hardly noticeable, but the frequency of the vibration matches the resonant frequency of some part of the bridge, and the vibration gets larger and larger and larger until the bridge collapses into the river below. A destructive resonant frequency.
So on one end of the scale, we have a giant concrete and steel bridge destroyed by resonance and on the other, we have a small crystal glass, shattered. So maybe we could shatter something even smaller, something really small, something you would need a microscope to see. Maybe we could shatter a living microorganism.