El Sol installation

Luxury crystal glass designers and manufacturers, Swarovski, have collaborated with researchers from the Birmingham Solar Oscillations Network (BiSON) project in School of Physics and Astronomy to develop a soundscape inspired by the sun.

For the last decade Swarovski has partnered with Design Miami/ to create a unique installation. This year Fernando Romero Enterprise (FR-EE), the Mexico City-based global architecture and design practice, created an installation that explores man’s relationship with the sun.

Entitled El Sol, the installation is a vast geodesic structure, designed to scale, one billion times smaller than the sun and is comprised of 2,880 precision-cut Swarovski crystals. It is accompanied by a soundscape developed by the University of Birmingham.

The track, provided by the decades-long BiSON project, is the "sound" of the sun made up of acoustic waves formed from decades of data captured by spectrometers observing the sun since the 1970’s. The sun rings like a bell, with the central frequency of this sound being far below human hearing at 0.003 Hz. The sounds visitors will hear have been increased in speed by 100,000 times, bringing it up to 300 Hz and into the range of human hearing.

BiSON consists of a network of six remote solar observatories monitoring low-degree solar oscillation modes. It is operated by the High Resolution Optical Spectroscopy group of the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Birmingham. BiSON captures data from the sun by making very precise measurements of how its oscillations cause tiny changes in the colour of the light emitted from the sun.  Measuring the oscillations allows discoveries to be made about the internal structure using a technique known as helioseismology.