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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Stradivari, Violins, Sunspots, and the Maunder Minimum

I mentioned Antonio Stradivari in SolderSmoke 120, but I felt a bit guilty about it, because there wasn't much of a connection to radio. But Nick, KB1SNG, has come to the rescue. Nick sent me this interesting article that discusses POSSIBLE connections between the quality of Stradivari's violins and the sunspot count. Check it out:

A recent article in The Economist alerted me to the fact that OM Stradivari was busy in the shack, churning out mechanical audio oscillators well into his 90's. I thought that Stradivari's late start, and his success in his senior years makes him an inspiration for many of us. A quick look at the Strad-Wiki page confirms this: Stradivari didn't really hit his stride until age 54, and did his best work between age 54 and 81.


  1. Hi Bill; Enjoyed Your podcast 120. I agree on your observation of "chick flick" "Julia". I got my ham 'ticket' at 14 years in 1954 and I have worked in an related field ever since. Now that I'm retired and 70 years old some of this stuff gets bewildering, and a lot of it is rather simple stuff. The XYL picked up an MP3 player at an clearence table and thought it might make a nice stocking stuffer for Christmas. I have been downloading solder smoke podcasts and have been enjoying them and not much else. This is where the hard part comes in. I tried to get the MP3 downloads to record for a considerable time. To no advail and the instructions were no help. Then I for some reason right-clicked on title and "save target as" and like magic wrote to MP3. I had not realized that this stuff was so user friendly. After kicking my self (no small feat for a 70 year old) I wondered how many others had this problem? Well I'm hooked on listning and have begun downloading all SS podcasts and several of Sheps'.What fun, and a calming influence, as I have been building some QRP gear after 20 odd years of solder smoke abstention. Looking forward to 121...73 Jack..Derry NH

  2. It is indeed true that a "secret varnish" used by the Cremona School of instrument makers has yet to be identified. The idea presented in the Nat. Geog. article is interesting, too. I would warn and gently all my scientist and engineer friends that there are SOME things that cannot be readily explained merely by accounting for--statistically or analytically--in the world of music and the arts. Heinrich Schenker, for example, had brilliant insights into a particular repertoire and an organicist view of musical gesture and construction, in say, Bach, Haydn, and Beethoven. BUT, many an engineer or a scientist will come along and say things like "there are 5,456 harmonic progressions exactly alike and common to Bach, Beethoven and Haydn and therefore, they are the same. Not true. Similarly, you or I could take a very simple Colpitt's oscillator circuit, using similar components and values and yet NOT get the same results...that's the idea. IN any case, this is VERY off-topic, but timely. Great posts as usual and very interesting ones!


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