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The Dawn of Ultrasonics
study.Szent-Györgyi,whotellinglyobservedthat“adiscovery must be, by definition, at variance with existing knowledge,” divided scientists into two categories: the Apollonians and the Dionysians (Szent-Györgyi, 1972, p. 966). These classifi- cations reflect extremes of two different approaches found in most human endeavors, e.g., science, literature, art, and music.
“In science the Apollonian tends to develop established lines to perfection, while the Dionysian rather relies on intuition and is more likely to open new, unexpected alleys for research... Apply- ing for a grant begins with writing a project. The Apollonian clearly sees the future lines of his research and has no difficulty... Not so the Dionysian, who knows only the direction in which he wants to go out into the unknown; he has no idea what he is going to find there... The future of mankind depends on the progress of science, and the progress of science depends on the support it can find. Support mostly takes the form of grants, and the present methods of distributing grants unduly favor the Apollonian” (Szent-Györgyi, 1972, p. 966).
The dawn of ultrasonics was well before regular government funding from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the French National Center for Scientific Research. What I find especially interesting are the methods tapped by these Dionysian scientists: wartime crisis funding and “the facilities of a great private laboratory backed by a great private fortune” (Alvarez, 1983), rather different from modern funding modes. Loomis’s wide- ranging and extraordinarily creative contributions, first in ultrasonics, are Dionysian in its finest form as was his ability to gather around him brilliant minds of similar proclivities.
Alvarez, L. W. (1983). Alfred Lee Loomis-Last Great Amateur of Science. Physics Today 36, 25-34.
Anonymous. (1940). William T. Richards. Daily Princetonian Special Bulletin, February 1, 1940, p. 1. Available at
Boyle, R. W. (1928). Ultrasonics. Science Progress in the Twentieth Century 23, 75-105. Available at
Conant, J. (2002). Tuxedo Park. Simon & Schuster, New York.
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Frenzel, J., and Schultes, H. (1934). Luminescence in water as a result of cavitation induced by supersonic waves. Zeitschrift für Physikalische Chemie 27, 421-424.
Hinman, J. J., and Suslick, K. S. (2017). Nanostructured materials synthesis using ultrasound. Current Topics in Chemistry 375, 59-94.
Noltingk, B. E., and Neppiras, E. A. (1950). Cavitation produced by ultrasound. Proceedings of the Physical Society, Section B 63, 674-685.
Rayleigh, Lord (1917). On the pressure developed in a liquid during the collapse of a spherical cavity. Philosophical Magazine 34, 94-98.
Richards, W. T. (1938). Recent progress in supersonics. Journal of Applied Physics 9, 298-306.
Richards, W. T. (1939). Supersonic phenomena. Reviews of Modern Physics 11, 36-64.
Richards, W. T., and Loomis, A. L. (1927). The chemical effects of high frequency sound waves I. A preliminary survey. Journal of the American Chemical Society 49, 3086-3100.
Suslick, K. S. (2014). Mechanochemistry and sonochemistry: Concluding remarks. Faraday Discussions 170, 411-422.
Suslick, K. S., and Flint, E. B. (1987). Sonoluminescence from non-aqueous liquids. Nature 330, 553-555.
Suslick, K. S., Eddingsaas, N. C., Flannigan, D. J., Hopkins, S. D., and Xu, H. (2018). The chemical history of a bubble. Accounts of Chemical Research 51, 2169-2178.
Szent-Györgyi, A. (1933). Chemical and biological effects of ultra-sonic radiation. Nature 131, 278-278.
Szent-Györgyi, A. (1972). Dionysians and Apollonians. Science 176, 966.
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of high-frequency sound-waves of great intensity. The London, Edinburgh, and Dublin Philosophical Magazine and Journal of Science 4, 417-436.
Kenneth S. Suslick is the Schmidt Research Professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Cham- paign. He received his BS from Caltech in 1974 and PhD from Stanford University in 1978, coming to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign immediately there-
after. He has received the Helmholtz-Rayleigh Interdisciplinary Silver Medal (Acoustical Society of America), Centenary Prize and Stokes Medal (Royal Society of Chemistry), Materials Research Society Medal, Chemical Pioneer Award (American Institute of Chemists), and the Nobel Laureate Signature and Hildebrand Awards from the American Chemical Society. He received the Eastman Professorship at Oxford (UK) for 2018– 2019. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.
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