spaceSpace and Physics

Sound, Water and Camera Make A Zigzag of Awesome


Stephen Luntz

Stephen has a science degree with a major in physics, an arts degree with majors in English Literature and History and Philosophy of Science and a Graduate Diploma in Science Communication.

Freelance Writer

981 Sound, Water and Camera Make A Zigzag of Awesome

Want to make water flow in a zig zag so it seems like the drops are suspended in space? How about looking like the water if flowing upwards?  It turns out you can do it with common home equipment, although sadly it only really works on camera, or with a strobe.

As the video's creator Brusspup explains, all you need is a powered speaker, a hose attached to a tap, some take and something that will generate sound at 24Hz through the speakers (tone generating software being suggested, but signal generators will work too or a tuba playing its lowest G would also work if that is more your thing). Most crucially you need a 24 frames per second (fps) camera.
The speaker causes the hose to vibrate, shaking it 24 times a second. To the naked eye this looks like something of a blur, but if your camera is also taking a shot every 24 seconds the video looks like the water is frozen in space, with just slight changes to the position of the drops.
Adjust the frequency up slightly and the water appears to be falling with marvelous slowness – the shaking now occurs every 0.04 seconds instead of 0.0417, so the drops appear to be moving at 4% of their real speed.
Things really get interesting when you make the frequency just slightly lower than the required speed (have your tuba player go to F). Now the water appears to move upwards. This is known as the wagon-wheel effect, after the way wheels in Westerns can seem to rotate the wrong way when they are moving more than half way round between frames.
To see the effects without a camera, run the experiment at night using a strobe light.

A more basic version can be seen here:


spaceSpace and Physics