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Atoms trying to understand atoms

Vibration or oscillation denotes periodic motion of a particle, a taut string, an elastic membrane, or some other (abstract) entity.


Vibration in matter is a repeated deviation about a mean point in either the mass or part of the mass of any substance. There is a constraining force pulling the vibrating substance back to its mean position and a stimulus responsible for the deviation. There are three possible scenarios for the duration and amplitude of the vibration depending on the stimulus.

  1. If the stimulus occurs once only then the amplitude (strength) of the vibration will decrease over time because of friction or other energy loss. (e.g., a piano string or tuning fork)
  2. Exactly repeated stimulus synchronised with the frequency of the vibration can overcome energy losses and maintain the vibration at a constant frequency and amplitude. (e.g., a quartz watch or radio oscillator)
  3. Stimuli similar to (2) above but greater than losses will give positive feedback and cause the vibration to increase in amplitude[1]. This can eventually result in the vibrating object breaking. (e.g. marching boots on a bridge)


In string theory, all "particles" are excitations/vibrations of an underlying field. These excitations vary in their frequency, in such a way that excitations with higher frequency have higher energy, with their total energy being a multiple of their frequency and Planck's constant.

The vibrational energy of photons (i.e. the energy of light) can be lost by transferring energy to matter where it might appear as vibrations (e.g. heat). Similarly, vibration in matter (e.g. sound) will eventually be converted to energy (e.g. heat) which can then be radiated as photons. The vibrational frequency of the photons is usually very different from the vibrational frequency of the sound or heat, though.

Acoustic vibration[edit]

Vibration is, fundamentally, a periodic oscillation in a piece of matter. Such vibration is generally understood by observers as sound, or felt directly. Vibration can be converted to or from electrical oscillation by means of a transducer, generally a microphone (to) or a speaker (from). Sufficiently intense vibrations can shake apart solid matter, a principle most vividly demonstrated by earthquakes.


Vibration in the form of heat can create a desirable state of disorder, e.g. in the process known as annealingWikipedia. LithotripsyWikipedia is an example of vibration being used to break up solid objects.

Mechanical vibration can also create some kinds of order, by causing particles of similar size to compact into a more regular arrangement or causing different-sized particles in a mixture to separate into layers by mass (e.g., shaking a cat's litter box from side to side brings the larger clumps of litter and shit to the surface for removal, leaving the comparatively clean and smaller particles at the bottom for future use).


Vibrations bring about the New Age.[2] New Agers believe it is crucial to keep their vibration high by forcing themselves to experience the emotion of happiness at all times. And somehow it helps the planet too.[3] You too can learn how to raise your personal vibrations "to a more empowering state such as love, gratitude, and peace" in just under ten minutes. The audio program costs just under $20.[4]

Crystal woo comes in here. The Law of attraction comes in here too: whether good or bad things happen to you depends on "thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and feelings" which somehow create good or bad vibrations.[5] With such wonderful empowering text who needs evidence?[6]

Vibration or succussion or oscillation is important in homeopathy and if you suggest the whole thing is silly, powerful corporate lawyers could descend onto you.[7] The discoverers of this earth-moving phenomenon have as yet failed to copyright the popular concepts expressed by the phrases "good vibes" and "bad vibe".

There is no truth to the rumor that celestial realms vibrate with higher energies. In fact, no one outside the New Age movement even understands what that's supposed to mean. There is equally little evidence for homeopathy, or for vibrational medicine.

See also[edit]