When two cymbals collide each other in our atmosphere (so with the presence of air), the kinetic energy make their atoms vibrate, then this energy is dissipated as sound waves and you here the loud sound of this musical instrument.

But what if I do it in vacuum, e.g. the outer space ? The cymbals will still vibrate, but the sound can't be create. So what will happen if a continuously play cymbals in vacuum ?

  1. The cymbals will vibrate until the energy destroys the bondings between the atoms and they will be torn appart;
  2. The vibrations will go in my body and I will eventually explode;
  3. The energy will create photons (so the music will continue indefinetly);
  4. The energy will heat the cymbals and they will melt;
  5. Another phenomenon ?



1 Answer 1


When you strike cymbals (or any other object) you give them a certain amount of energy. If the object is stiff and light (like cymbals) this energy will cause the object to vibrate. The vibrations will continue until the energy is dissipated.

Because the initial energy is fixed, there is no question of anything exploding or melting (unless you hit them really hard !). In the absence of an atmosphere, the energy in the cymbals cannot dissipate as sound waves. So the cymbals will continue to vibrate until the energy is eventually dissipated as heat, which will (very slightly) raise the temperature of the cymbals and whatever is holding/supporting them.

Even if you hit the cymbals repeatedly, you will only raise their temperature to the point where the infrared radiation that they give off matches the rate at which you are putting energy into the cymbals.


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