Sonocytology: the study of the sounds and impulses that the human cells make
Termed ‘sonocytology’, this new science may hold great potential for medical diagnosis and therapy in the future.
In this short video the sound of a healthy yeast cell has been made visible on the CymaScope instrument, revealing complex geometrical features.
At the beginning, the whole body or organism raises up a sculpture or statue of tense skin, vibrating amid voluminous sound, open-closed like a box (or drum), capturing that by which it is captured. We hear by means of the skin and the feet. We hear with the cranial box, the abdomen and the thorax. We hear by means of the muscles, nerves, and tendons. Our body-box, stretched with strings, veils itself within a global tympanum. We live amid sounds and cries, amid waves rather than spaces the organism moulds and indents itself…I am a house of sound, hearing and voice at once, black box and sounding-board, hammer and anvil, a grotto of echoes, a musicassette, the ear’s pavilion, a question mark, wandering in the space of messages filled or stripped of sense.…I am the resonance and the tone, I am altogether the mingling of the tone and its resonance.i
What does the sound of living cells sound like?
Living cells create sound as a natural aspect of their metabolic process and each type of cell has a unique ‘song’ that changes when the cell is stressed.
In 2002, Professor James Gimzewski and Andrew Pelling at the UCLA Department of Chemistry first made the discovery that yeast cells oscillate at the nanoscale. Amplifying this oscillation results in a sound that lies within the human audible range.
An Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) is employed to ‘listen’ to the sounds of cells. Unlike microscopes that use optical imaging, the AFM ‘touches’ a cell with its small tip, comparable to a record needle ‘feeling’ the bumps in a groove on a record. With this interface, the AFM ‘feels’ oscillations taking place at the membrane of a cell. These electrical signals can then be amplified and distributed by speakers.The Dark Side of the Cell is the first composition ever to utilize cell sonics. The staging of the ‘musical cells’ takes place in a darkened, acoustically immersive space, enhanced with a number of sculptural objects, onto which microscopic imagery of the sonic cells and their cellular sonograms are projected.