Some 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 so−called 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 infomercial 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
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 January 25, 2022
(updated from original post on 8/27/2015)