This page describes my theory relating Stonehenge to Interference.
[Updated 1Sep2013 by Steven J. Waller, Ph.D.]
Sound wave interference patterns can evoke an auditory illusion that the silent zones of destructive noise cancellation are caused by a Stonehenge-like arrangement of objects blocking the sound. Measurements at the real Stonehenge demonstrate that the ring of megaliths radiates acoustic shadows that recreate a sound pattern mimicking interference patterns. Legends of Pipers Stones reinforce the relationship between tones and stones.
- Abstract for my AAAS talk 17Feb2012 entitled "Virtual Acoustic Images and Sound-Attenuators as Objects of Ancient Veneration" that ties together my new Stonehenge Interference theory with my Cave Art Echoes theory: http://aaas.confex.com/aaas/2012/webprogram/Paper7136.html
Handouts from my AAAS presentation can also be downloaded below.
- For info and visuals regarding my new Stonehenge interference theory, see http://www.acoustics.org/press/162nd/Waller_2aAAa9.html for the Lay version of a paper I gave at the 162nd Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, San Diego, entitled "Stonehenge-like auditory illusion evoked by interference pattern" Journal of the Acoustical Society of America Vol 130 No 4 Pt 2 of 2 Oct. 2011 page 2352.
See video below "Demonstration of Two-Point Sound Wave Interference Pattern Using Two English Flutes (Recorders)" that shows sound wave interference patterns could have been heard in the ancient past.
This was the set-up used in the first blindfolded participant study that resulted in descriptions of "pillars" and drawings of archways.
To hear the interference with better audio quality, play the WAV file below, and demonstrate for yourself that interference can give an auditory illusion of objects blocking the sound. One journalist even had to ask me for clarification if it was the recording I made while walking around Stonehenge while sound played in the middle! It is actually me walking around the pair of flutes; you can hear it get quieter when I get to locations where there is destructive interference, and there it seems like the sound is being blocked by objects. (It is much more impressive in person because you experience directionality on a large scale.
Recent results of blindfolded participant (initials C.V.) led around a sound wave interference pattern: "I'm imagining a lot of boulders, but there's something not quite right. ...As I was going around, I kept thinking there were larger rocks in the area, so when there was the gradual rise and fall of sound that we hit from the first north area, I was thinking of a slanted rock that came up, and then farther on just like some kind of larger object...I felt like there was something completely blocking it..."
Some of the news coverage regarding my Stonehenge theory:
- 2012 “Video: The Mystery of Stonehenge - Archeoacoustics - The Sounds of the Past - Steven Waller Ph.D.” Vancouver Sun http://www.vancouversun.com/travel/Video+Mystery+Stonehenge+Archeoacoustics+Sounds+Past+Steven+Waller/6165143/story.html
- 2012 “Stonehenge was based on a 'magical' auditory illusion, says scientist” The Guardian, Ian Sample, http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/feb/16/stonehenge-based-magical-auditory-illusion
- 2012 “Did otherworldly music inspire Stonehenge?” New Scientist, Sara Reardon, http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2012/02/did-otherworldly-music-inspire.html
- 2012 “Stonehenge design was 'inspired by sounds'” BBC News, Jonathan Amos, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-17073206
- 2012 “Stonehenge mystery may have been solved: Scientist says it was designed for acoustic phenomenon” New York Daily News, Taylor Hom, http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-02-18/news/31075911_1_stonehenge-noise-cancellation-waller-attributes
- 2012 “Stonehenge Inspired by Sound Illusion, Archaeologist Suggests” LiveScience, Stephanie Pappas, http://www.livescience.com/18525-sound-illusion-stonehenge.html