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Ruben's Tube: Making Fire Dance with Science!

Updated on April 17, 2018
Heinrich Rubens (circled) at the first Solway conference (1911)
Heinrich Rubens (circled) at the first Solway conference (1911) | Source

Did you know that by using scientific principles, you can make fire dance?

Well, it's true!

In 1905, a German scientist named Heinrich Rubens, designed an experiment that moved fire up and down according to the frequency of a sound wave. His experiment became known as the Standing Wave Flame Tube, or more commonly known as a "Ruben's Tube."

Check out the quick video below to see this cool science experiment in action!

How does it work?

The setup consists of a long metal tube with tiny holes drilled along the top at regular 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.


Are you interested in making a Ruben's Tube?

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      Locke 6 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.