May 2018 Newsletter: Good Vibrations

At Metropolitan Acoustics, we talk a lot about how vibration is not good for buildings next to construction sites, for labs that have sensitive equipment, for hospital imaging equipment, for animal labs, and even for office environments.  In this month’s newsletter, we are discussing some positive uses of vibration.  Read on to discover some interesting and inventive uses of good vibrations.

Pulsations for Distilling Whiskey?

Copper & Kings is an American Brandy Company located in Louisville, Kentucky.  Like every distillery, they age their spirits in wood barrels.  Unlike any distillery, they use the principle of “Sonic Aging” to mature their spirits.  They have five sub-woofers in their basement maturation cellar and pulse a bass note throughout. The alcohol molecule, being less dense than a water molecule, starts to move away from the pulse and collide with other alcohol molecules inside the barrels, eventually colliding with the barrel wall. They slide up the wall, which starts to create a “distillate wave” inside the barrel resulting in increased frequency of contact over time between the distillate with the barrel walls and, in their opinion, enhances maturation. At the very least, happy brandy makes for happy drinking!

Vibration for Amputees

Amira Idris is a biomedical engineer who developed a device that helps amputees manage pain and lead a better life. Her work with amputees brought up the phenomenon of phantom limb pain, where patients experience pain sensations in limbs that no longer exist. The nerves are still there, so they continue to send mixed signals to the brain. Amira’s company, TheraV, developed ELIX, a wearable device that stimulates the nerves with vibration therapy, which not only helps with nerve pain management, but increases blood circulation and reduces symptoms of arthritis or restless leg syndrome as well. She is especially interested in helping veterans deal with limb loss, and the best part is that it is a drug-free alternative to pain management.

Vibration to Better Health

It sounds like a crazy way to improve your health — spend some time on a platform that vibrates at about the same frequency as the lowest string on a double bass. But recent research indicates that the procedure, known as whole-body vibration, may be helpful with illnesses from cerebral palsy to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Now, a new study of obese mice reveals that whole-body vibration provides similar metabolic benefits as walking on a treadmill, suggesting it may be useful for treating obesity and Type II diabetes. The researchers divided their animals into three groups. One group lived in cages on a platform that shook gently for 20 minutes each day; the second group scurried on a treadmill for 45 minutes per day; and the third control group could laze about to their hearts’ content. After 12 weeks, the researchers found that exercise and whole-body vibration provided comparable health benefits. Additionally, mice in the two “active” groups showed signs of a healthier metabolism. But don’t give up your exercise routine yet; whole-body vibration doesn’t provide the cardiovascular or respiratory benefits of physical activity.

While we mostly think of vibration as a negative phenomenon, we should all recognize these examples and others for finding the goodness and usefulness of vibrations, just like the Beach Boys.

June 2018 Newsletter: Turn That Down!
April 2018 Newsletter: Reflective Reverberations