Item – Thèses Canada

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Pantalony, David Alexander,1969-
Rudolph Koenig (1832-1901), Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894) and the birth of modern acoustics.
Ph. D. -- University of Toronto, 2002
Ottawa :National Library of Canada = Bibliothèque nationale du Canada,[2003]
3 microfiches.
Includes bibliographical references.
This thesis reconstructs the birth of modern acoustics through its research and teaching instruments. It opens with a biographical sketch of the main constructor of these instruments, Rudolph Koenig. Through Koenig's life we get a detailed case study of how an instrument maker and his instruments can help shape the development of a new science. We also obtain a portrait of one of the key participants in the famed precision instrument trade in nineteenth-century Paris. The second chapter describes the work of Hermann von Helmholtz and the conceptual and experimental development of acoustics between the years 1856 and 1863. Helmholtz revolutionised the study of sound by combining his knowledge of physics, mathematics and physiology into a novel theory of harmony. He also contributed a small number of ingenious instruments for testing these bold claims. The other half of Chapter Two considers the role Rudolph Koenig played in constructing, modifying and spreading Helmholtz's "reform of acoustics." He was more than a mere technician and a study of his instruments reveals that even early in his career he was making original contributions to the new acoustics. The third chapter details how his life as a craftsman of sound, his innovations with graphical instruments, and his exposure to the Parisian scientific scene helped to create his unique approach to acoustics. Later in his career Koenig would combine these influences to become the main critic of Helmholtz's theory. The final chapter examines the disputes that arose involving the nature of vowels, timbre and combination tones. It shows how, through Koenig's influence, these controversies came to centre on instruments, especially the tuning fork, the focus of Koenig's most important innovations. The study of these disputes reveals the tensions that arose between physics and psychology at the end of the nineteenth century.