How a Ruben's Tube Works

A Ruben's Tube showing a standing soundwave.
A Ruben's Tube showing a standing soundwave. | Source

Summary

Did you know that it's possible to make fire dance? In 1904, a scientist by the name of Heinrich Rubens, designed an experiment that caused fire to move up and down according to the frequency of a sound wave. His experiment has become known as the Standing Wave Flame Tube, or more commonly called a "Ruben's Tube."

I'll explain how it works it a bit, but first check out this cool video!

How does it work?

If you didn't catch what the guy said in the video, I'll explain a little more about this awesome physics experiment.

The setup consists of a long tube, usually of metal or PVC piping, with tiny holes drilled along the top at half inch intervals. On one end of the pipe is a speaker, and on the other end is a tube connected to a propane tank. The whole experiment is airtight, except of course for the tiny holes on the top.

When the propane is turned on, the gas is forced out of the holes. These holes are then lit, which produces tiny little flames along the top of the pipe. Then, music or some sort of sound is produced by the speaker, sending sound waves down the pipe. These sound waves cause vibrations in the gas, and because the gas has no other exit, it flows out of the tiny holes at greater volumes then the holes with little to no vibrations.

This allows an almost exact visual representation of the sound waves, and it is how you can get flames to dance to music! Below are some more cool videos of Ruben's Tube experiments.

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Comments 1 comment

Locke 5 years ago

Thanks for the info. I'm planning on building one. I imagine "Still Alive" and "Want You Gone" would sound and look great.

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