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Why should an object even have a natural frequency, why not vibrate at any other frequency? This just sounds nonsensical.

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closed as unclear what you're asking by ZeroTheHero, Buzz, Kyle Kanos, Jon Custer, Norbert Schuch Jan 8 at 0:24

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    $\begingroup$ It not only sounds nonsensical, it is nonsensical. $\endgroup$ – my2cts Jan 5 at 16:07
  • $\begingroup$ Your question seems to imply that an object can only vibrate at its natural frequency, and that’s not the case. Is that what you mean? $\endgroup$ – Hugo V Jan 5 at 16:28
  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking about harmonic oscillators? If not, then what other kind of object and natural frequency are you asking about? $\endgroup$ – Solomon Slow Jan 5 at 16:33
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    $\begingroup$ @my2cts It is not nonsensical. Think about a rocking chair, a tuning fork, the air in an organ pipe, or the fact that the light from a sodium streetlamp is yellow and not blue. Objects do indeed have natural or resonant frequencies at which they most easily oscillate, determined by their strength internal or external forces, their mass, the geometry of their container, etc. $\endgroup$ – G. Smith Jan 5 at 17:13
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    $\begingroup$ @my2cts So why have you not posted an answer that the concept of natural frequency is nonsensical, in your opinion? $\endgroup$ – G. Smith Jan 5 at 20:32
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In everyday terms, commonplace objects are capable of resonance at some natural frequency if they possess 1) mass, 2) elasticity, and 3) little or no internal friction or damping. The mass allows them to temporarily store up energy by being in motion. The elasticity allows them to temporarily store up energy by being deformed. The absence of damping allows these two energy storage mechanisms to trade their energy back and forth repeatedly without losses, thereby establishing oscillation.

The amount of mass present compared to the amount of elasticity present sets the natural frequency that results. The amount of damping determines how long the oscillations persist after being set in motion.

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  • $\begingroup$ Consider that damping do not exclude the existence of a natural frequency, it just shifts it and reduces amplitudes. $\endgroup$ – nodarkside Jan 6 at 23:38

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