Summer Fellow, Sydney Blue, uses research to combine interests in physics and music

Summer Fellow, Sydney Blue, uses research to combine interests in physics and music

Sydney Blue, a junior double major in physics and music, from Titusville, Fla., is using her research “Sound Propagation in Granular Materials,” to study how to efficiently send sound through granular materials.

“Since the Earth’s surface is granular material, this work has many applications including land mine detection and oil exploration,” Blue said. “I create the sound with a function generator and send it into the granular material via a speaker, then measure the material’s response with piezoelectric sensors.”

Blue explained that granular materials are common materials that include sand and grains. However, they are relatively mysterious because they do not act like normal mediums such as water or air.

“This project interested me because the study of granular acoustics seemed like a nice intersection of my two majors,” Blue said. “So far, I have been amazed at learning about the electrical components and the math behind sound production.”

So far, Blue has built the set up for her experiments, which involved building wooden boxes and filling them with a granular material; building a circuit for the speaker; and reviewing some sensors.

“I have also started taking practice data and using Python to analyze the data and graph it,” Blue said.

Blue is involved in several music ensembles including the PC Choir, orchestra, opera and musical theater, handbells, percussion ensemble, and theater. She is also a coordinator for the Student Volunteer Services for the Presbyterian Home.

The PC Summer Fellows Program is designed to enhance the academic experience of PC students by providing them with opportunities to work with faculty during the summer. The program is intended for motivated students to gain research experience with direct faculty mentoring. Students experience the process of research as a creative intellectual activity in a living-learning environment.



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