A lot of people like to demean
engineers and scientists for their propensity to want to conduct experiments and obtain measured, empirical data
rather than 'winging it' and being satisfied with 'intuitive' knowledge or the contemporarily popular term 'gut.'
If mankind had not adopted scientific methods and ventured beyond the 'cradle of civilization' on the African continent,
we would all still be living in grass huts, hurling rocks at prey, and foraging for berries. Quantifying and categorizing
all things in nature helps inventors create new and improved implements that help make life better. Early on it
was mostly individuals like Archimedes, Euler, Newton, and Edison who built the pool of knowledge that fed and evolved
into corporations, governments, and universities doing the vast majority of the work. Bell Laboratories is probably
one of the most recognizable names for a group of people that collectively produced an immense amount of data and
products. This advertisement in a 1947 edition of Radio News is a prime example of the kind of intense, well-planned
effort that went into advancing the state of the art of audio communications.
Test Tube for Sound
A telephone listens to a loud speaker in the new "free field" acoustic test room at Bell Telephone Laboratories.
The sound-transparent "floor" is built of steel cables.
This giant "test-tube" is actually an echoless sound room at Bell Telephone Laboratories. Here engineers seek
new facts about sound which will help them make telephone service still better and more dependable.
Bell scientists know a great deal about what happens to sound in electrical systems. This new room will give
them a powerful tool to find out more about what happens to sound in the air.
In an ordinary living room, most of the sound addressed to you comes by way of reflections. At 10 feet less than
10% reaches you directly.
Sound that bounces at you from walls, ceilings, furniture, and your body is all right for hearing - but it poses
questions for scientists who would study it uncontaminated by reflections.
The Bell Laboratories "test-tube" gives telephone people the chance to produce pure sound and analyze" it reliably
with respect to intensity, pitch, and direction. The entire room is lined with glass wool, contained in wire-mesh
cases, wedge-shaped to give maximum absorbing area. Sound bounces along the sloping surfaces, sifts into the soft
glass wool, and is gradually stifled.
This is one more example of Bell Laboratories' constant work to learn more about everything which can extend
and improve telephone service.
Bell Telephone Laboratories
Exploring and inventing, devising and perfecting for continued improvements and economies in telephone service.
Posted August 27, 2015