Monday, May 23, 2011

Melodious chickens

What with E's broken arm, there hasn't been much time to experiment this week. Pottery for Geeks has already covered nesting spheres, interlocking torus boxes, double-walled bowls, and two different Klein bottle strategies (the simple "double torus" and the elegant "Klein bottle bottle"). We might could* discuss Borromean rings, but there really isn't much point to making wheel-thrown ones. I'm running out of ideas, and we still have two classes left.

So after I tucked my plucky but tender boy into bed tonight, I brainstormed and decided to figure out how to make an ocarina that actually whistles. I've attempted ocarinas before, but they've been airy duds, and I figure there's abundant topical material here to keep geeks happy: air flow, turbulence, the sorry consequences of sloppy 45o angles, resonance cavities, frequency, pitch, sine waves, and, of course, chickens.** After a little reading, popsicle-stick collecting, and poking and prodding--eureka!

Because safety in the dining room lab is a priority, my research was accompanied by a cup of full-bodied Spanish Montebuena Rioja (2009). Testing whistles means blowing into chicken butts. While the chickens themselves are vigilant about personal hygiene, the wet clay with which they are made can host nasty microorganisms (something to discuss with the professional biologists in my class). After getting clay in my mouth more than once, I figured swishing with 13.5% alcohol might not be a bad idea.

*Note the proper colloquial usage of the Southern American English double modal.

**This is a joke. We're the science type of geek, not the type that bites heads off chickens (I hope). For the record, no chickens were harmed during the creation of these whistles.


Rebecca O said...

Do they whistle?

Lisa Peru said...

They do, and since the one I have is fired and glazed, I need not fear for my life. :)