I had some old flowers in a vase and noticed the water had become really stagnant, causing the whole room to smell like a fart. So I tipped out the flowers and the old water, and poured some boiling water into the vase to help clean off all the slime. To my surprise the vase started ringing like a bell! The sound was quite loud, similar to when you run your finger around the tip of a wine glass. I believe the vase is ceramic, I'll attach a picture of it below.

How is this possible?


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    $\begingroup$ Did you fill it all the way to the top? $\endgroup$ – Ron Maimon Sep 24 '11 at 6:56
  • $\begingroup$ it started making the sound when it was half-filled. but it continued making the sound when it was completely filled. half an hour later, and it was still ringing along, although the timbre had changed somewhat (now more of a percussive ding-a-ling like a school bell) $\endgroup$ – wim Sep 24 '11 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ the air column might have become resonating! as compared to earlier case( without water) when it was not resonating. $\endgroup$ – Vineet Menon Sep 25 '11 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ I would like to exclude convection--- can you see if you put pepper in the water if it is flowing in rolls? Also, it would be good to know if the sound disappears when you place a lid on the container, and if it is still there when you fill the container to overflowing. I find this to be a hard puzzle. $\endgroup$ – Ron Maimon Oct 8 '11 at 21:54
  • $\begingroup$ I have experienced this phenomenon a couple of times, with ceramics. In the cases I saw the vessel was sitting on a smooth surface, and I surmised that the heat from the water caused the base of the vessel to expand, and that caused it to slide against the surface. Similar to the fingernail on a blackboard you got vibration, which then "synced" to the resonant frequency of the vessel. This could be tested by reproducing the scenario with the vessel sitting on different materials. $\endgroup$ – Hot Licks Jan 31 '15 at 22:48

I'm not sure, but it's possible that the ceramic material was relieving stress. That is, the material had many defects in it's structure (like the ones described in this wiki page), and the heat from the water gave the structure enough energy to relax and heal them. I've witnessed a ceramic cup that started to make bell like noises when I poured myself a tea in it, an. According to a ceramist I know, they "sing" like this when the ceramic pieces are new, and not when they are very old, so that is consistent with the idea that they are due to defects relaxing: once there are few defects left, they can't make more noises.

  • $\begingroup$ ""and not when they are very old, so that is consistent with the idea that they are due to defects relaxing:"" Old pottery has cracks and/or is soaked with water through the cracs, this prevents any "ringing". For china (no porosity) without cracks, You will find "Trevelyan" action at any age. $\endgroup$ – Georg Nov 18 '11 at 10:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Georg I'm not sure if you mean that it's not the defects that cause the ringing, or just that the absence of ringing with age is not due to a lower number of defects. I can improve the answer, or feel free to edit it yourself. The original question actually interests me, but I thought I had figured it out a few years ago. $\endgroup$ – Arnoques Nov 19 '11 at 18:32

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