Michael’s new family of seashell wind instruments continued to amaze and delight visitors at his farmer’s market vending booth in Florida and Massachusetts. That was the year, however, that the housing market collapsed and a world wide recession began. Both he and Dana struggled to grow their businesses in a rapidly shrinking economy. He wondered what he should do next.
An accident provided Michael with an opportunity he wasn’t expecting. His father fell down and broke his hip. Michael moved to Winter Park, Florida to care for him during his long recovery. While there he began to vend at a local farmer’s market in downtown Orlando. That’s where he found out about Rollins College.
A Rollins College music major told him that Rollins College Physics Department studies how acoustic musical instruments work and that he should ask them if they would study his new instruments. He made an appointment with the dean of the department. They met several times and eventually his seashell flute was accepted as a research project.
The dean told Michael that there are only a few college level physics departments in all of North America that have labs equipped to study how acoustic musical instruments work. Michael’s father just happened to live ten minutes away from one of the top physics labs in the country dedicated to doing this type of research.
Over the following years Michael met with the research team many times. They analyzed the sounds produced by the seashell flute and eventually submitted a research paper to the Journal of Sound and Vibration for publication. The research paper was rejected after peer review however because more research needed to be done to fully explain why the seashell flute works.
The conclusion of the research paper states: “we do not have a firm understanding of the air resonances of a pipe in the shape of a logarithmic spiral. Our data indicate that a simple model that works well for straight pipes, and pipes with few toroidal bends, does not accurately predict the impedance of a logarithmic spiral cavity with holes. This anomalous behavior will be the subject of future research.”
Five years later they still don’t know why it works. Perhaps someone reading this article may be able to explain it. The author will respond to any research inquiries.
Thank you for taking the time to read this story. Dana and Michael continue to be friends. She cares for her parents and their properties on Cape Cod.
Michael cares for his aging father in Florida and continues to vend his new family of seashell musical instruments at farmer’s markets and music festivals throughout Florida. He has become a skilled ‘Shellist’. That’s one who plays seashells as musical instruments.