The Sound Machine

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  • Q1

    How do you evaluate the relationship between Dr. Scott and Klausner? What did he do at Klausner’s bidding? Did he believe Klausner’s story?

    Marks:20
    Answer:

    Dr. Scott was Klausner’s friend and family physician. He visited Klausner to inquire about the condition of his throat when Klausner was working with his sound machine in a shed behind the garden. Dr. Scott was a friendly gentle man. He was inquisitive and cooperative. He asked Klausner about his sound machine. Though he was hesitant in the beginning Klausner explained everything to the doctor including his dream of listening to the in-audible sounds in nature. The doctor agreed with him in theory but doubted the possibility of listening to the high frequency sounds as Klausner proposed. He did not discourage Klausner. On the contrary he listened to his discourse attentively. He even expressed his desire to get to know the outcome of Klausner’s experiments. Klausner opened his mind only to the doctor. He trusted him and felt free to express his ideas with him.

    Klausner developed a deep friendship with Klausner. He continued his experiments until it was clear to him that the frightening screams he heard using his sound machine was the ‘throatless’ cries of the wounded plants. He took his machine to a park and struck the base of a beech tree with an axe. He heard an enormous, sobbing sound produced by the wounded tree. He wanted to share his findings with the doctor. He immediately called the doctor without any hesitation and asked him to come to the park at once. The doctor willingly obeyed. He then put the earphones into the doctor’s ears, asked him to listen attentively and struck the tree again with his axe. The very moment a huge branch broke from the tree and came crashing down.

    The doctor was a normal human being. He alarmed Klausner and ran in order to save his life. Both of them had a narrow escape but the machine was completely smashed by the broken branch. Klausner was anxious to know if the doctor had listened the screaming of the tree. But the doctor replied in the negative. He was more concerned about saving his life. So he did not bother to listen to anything when the branch came crashing down. Klausner was disappointed as the machine was smashed and the only person who could have supported his theory failed to listen to the cry of the tree.

    Klausner was a very sensitive person. He became even more sensitive after listening to the cries of the plants. He was extremely sorry for cutting the tree with his axe. He asked the doctor to stitch up the wound. The doctor replied that was not possible. Then he requested him to apply iodine to the wound he made on the tree trunk. The doctor willingly did what he was asked to do. He even promised to come and look at the tree the next day.

    It is evident from the story that the doctor did not believe Klausner’s story completely. Even Klausner had no idea of the painful screams of the plants until he heard the screams with his own ears. It seems that the doctor did not doubt Klausner’s story completely. He must have believed it if he could hear the cries at least once. It is evident from the story that the doctor was very inquisitive and he was beginning to believe Klausner’s theory. That is one of the reasons why he came immediately to the park as soon as Klausner called him. He considered Klausner’s behavior a bit strange but as he was a friendly gentle man he did not want to offend him.

    Even after the accident in which he had a narrow escape, he did not blame Klausner. Instead he chose to oblige to whatever Klausner had asked him to do. Their friendship remained strong even after the accidental smashing of the sound machine.

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  • Q2

    It is ironic that Klausner’s sound machine got smashed into pieces by the broken branch of the tree. Do you think that further experiments would have helped humankind to be more sensitive towards the nature and to end cruelty towards other forms of life?

    Marks:20
    Answer:

    There are many scientists in history who were misunderstood by their contemporaries. Some of them were ahead of their times and people questioned their ideas and discoveries. Even the theories proposed by great scientists like Copernicus and Einstein were ridiculed by people and other scientists alike. But after some time their theories were approved by the scientific world and they were hailed as heroes.

    Similarly the character in the story Mr. Klausner is regarded as a peculiar person. He is obsessed with ‘sound’. He is aware of the fact that there are different frequencies of sound waves. Human beings have the ability to listen to the frequencies between 20 to 20,000 Hz. Some animals are able to hear lower and higher frequencies of sound vibrations. Klausner believes that everything in the universe produce an infinite number of sound vibrations of different frequencies which are not audible to human beings. He calls such higher and lower frequencies as ‘notes’. According to Klausner there are higher and higher notes that vibrate a million times and even higher extending into infinity.

    He believes that there is a world of sound that people are not able to hear. There is music so powerful to drive people mad if anybody can tune their ears to it. He wants to listen to these inaudible sounds with a machine capable of tuning such notes to the audible levels of human ears. In fact he makes such a machine and conducts experiments with it.

    Ideas are the precursors to various scientific inventions. Everything science has invented and discovered originated as ideas in the mind of some scientists. For example aero planes, computers, rockets, etc. were conceived as ideas. Scientific inventions made our world a better place to live not only for human beings but also for animals and plants.

    Klausner believes that all animate and in-animate things produce sounds waves. Some sounds are audible to human beings. He wants to listen to these inaudible sounds with a machine capable of tuning such notes to the audible levels of human ears. He is very optimistic. He conducts experiments with his ‘sound machine’ to prove his ideas.

    He takes his machine to the garden and listens to the frightful shirking of the rose plants when Mrs. Saunders cuts roses from the rose bushes. He is convinced that the shirking sound was produced by the rose bush. He takes his machine to a nearby park and cuts the bark of a tree with an axe. He hears an enormous, inhuman sobbing of the tree. He wants to show the result of his experiments with Dr. Scott. He calls him to the park, puts the earphones into his ears and cuts the base of the tree again with his axe. At that moment a big branch of the tree brakes and comes crashing down and smashes his machine to pieces.

    Klausner is successful in his experiments. He proves that plants produce sounds which are not audible to human ears in the normal circumstances. He eliminates his doubts by asking Mrs. Saunders to cut another rose stem and by repeatedly cutting the trunk of a beech tree. He wants to show the result of his experiments to his friend Dr. Scott. Ironically a branch of the tree breaks and comes crashing down and smashes his ‘sound machine’. Even at the end of the story Klausner asks his friend if he heard the cry of the tree. But the doctor replies that he does not remember as he was more concerned about saving his own life when the branch came crashing down. Klausner becomes the only person to hear the cries made by plants.

    Klausner is moved by the cries of the plants. He is deeply pained and asks Mrs. Saunders not to cut the rose bushes any more. He feels sympathy for the beech tree, hugs it and asks ‘sorry’ for wounding it. He becomes so sensitive and asks the doctor to stitch the gash made on the tree trunk. When the doctor replies in the negative, he pleads with him to apply iodine on the wound.

    I believe thatKlausner’s invention would have helped people to become more sensitive towards plants. People do not consider plants as living beings. As they don’t think that plants also experience pain when wounded. We don’t have any trouble cutting down trees and uprooting plants. If we are able to hear the painful screams of plants we will become more sensitive towards the pain suffered by plants and as a result desist from cutting down plants unnecessarily. If it happens deforestation can be controlled and we will have a better environment. Unless we save plants and trees, we cannot save mother earth.

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  • Q3

    Some scientists were considered crazy when they were alive. However they pursued their ideas despite all the criticisms they had to face. Is Klausner crazy or a serious scientist? What was others’ opinion about him? What do you think of him?

    Marks:20
    Answer:

    Many scientists were considered lunatics by the people of their generation. Galileo Galileiwas persecuted by the Catholic Church, in the sixteenth century, for his scientific discoveries and ideas which were against the beliefs of the Church at that time.

    Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance era astronomer who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at the center of the universe. The people of his time could not digest his ideas as they believed that the sun revolved round the earth.

    Galileo's support of Heliocentrism(The theory that stated that the Sun is the center of the solar system and earth and planets revolve round the Sun) and Copernicanism was controversial during his lifetime, when most of the scientists believed in Geocentrism(Earth as the center of the solar system with the Sun revolving round the Earth). He was subject to the Roman Inquisition but he strongly defended his views on Heliocentrism. He spent the rest of his life in house arrest.

    There were many other scientists like them who were ahead of their times. They did not cower on the face of criticisms. They were firm in their convictions. Later on the world approved their ideas when proved scientifically.

    The main character in the story, Mr. Klausner is one such figure. Some of his ideas and assumptions seem to be crazy. But his ideas are based on scientific facts. He is well aware of the scientific facts regarding the properties of sound. He is in fact obsessed with ‘sound’. It is a fact that sound exists in the form of waves. There are different frequencies of sound waves. Human beings have the ability to listen to the frequencies between 20 to 20,000 Hz. Some animals are able to hear lower and higher frequencies of sound vibrations. Klausnerbelieves that everything in the universe produce an infinite number of sound vibrations of different frequencies which are not audible to human beings. He calls such higher and lower frequencies as ‘notes’. According to Klausnerthere are higher and higher notes that vibrate a million times or even higher extending into infinity.

    He believes that there is a whole world of sound waves that people are not able to hear. There is music so powerful to drive people mad if anyone can tune his/her ears to it. He wants to listen to these inaudible sounds with a machine to tune such notes to the audible levels of human ears. In fact he makes such a machine and conducts experiments with it.

    He takes his machine to the garden and listens to the frightful shirking when Mrs. Saunders cuts rosesfrom the rose bushes. He is convinced that the shirking sound was produced by the rose bush. He takes his machine to a nearby park and cuts the bark of a tree with an axe. Again he hears an enormous, inhuman sobbing of the tree. He wants to show the result of his experiments to Dr. Scott. He calls him to the park, puts the earphones into his ears and cuts the base of the tree again with his axe. At that moment a big branch of the tree brakes and comes crashing down and smashes his machine to pieces.

    When we analyseKlausner keeping in mind all these facts we cannot brand him a mad scientist. In fact the results of his experiments prove that he is not mad. He is serious about his ideas and pursues his dream with devotion. He is hardworking, focused and determined. He is convinced about his project and succeeds in his endeavor. So we can conclude that he is a serious scientist.

    Dr. Scott is the friend and family physician of Mr. Klausner. He is described in the story as friendly, inquisitive, cooperative and supportive. He shows interest in Klausner’s experiments and asks him to inform the outcome of his experiments. He is inquisitive and is eager to listen to inaudible sounds that Klausner claims to have heard. He does not believe everything Klausner tells him because he has no direct experience of it. It is clear from the story that the doctor does not regard Klausner as a lunatic scientist.

    Mrs. Saunders appears in the story for a short while. She is seen cutting rose flowers in the garden. She considers Klausner as a peculiar person. She obliges when Klausner asks her to cut another rose stem even though she does not understand the reason for his crazy behavior.She thinks that he has gone completely crazy.

    Considering all the facts presented in the story I think he cannot be branded as a crazy scientist. As in the case of Galileo and Copernicus people thinkthat he is crazy. But he is a devoted and hardworking scientist who believes in his ideas.

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  • Q4

    What wasKlausner’s obsession? Give a detailed account of his experiments. What was the outcome of his experiments?

    Marks:20
    Answer:

    Klausner was a scientist. He had deep knowledge of the properties of sound. He studied it thoroughly like any other scientist. He was not satisfied with the theoretical knowledge he had.

    According to theory sound waves exist in different frequencies. Human beings are not capable of listening to all frequencies of sounds. The audible frequency range of human ears is 20 Hz to 20000 Hz. Some animals are capable of listening to higher and lower frequencies of sound waves.

    Klausner was obsessed with sound. He believed that everything in the universe produced an infinite number of sound vibrations of different frequencies which are not audible to human beings. He called such higher and lower frequencies as ‘notes’. According to him there were higher and higher notes that vibrated a million times and even higher extending into infinity.

    He believed that there was a whole world of sounds that people were not able to hear. There was music so powerful to drive people mad if theycould tune their ears to it. He wanted to listen to those inaudible sounds with a sound machine capable of tuning sound waves into audible frequencies. In fact he made such a machine and experimented with it. He informed his friend Dr. Scott that he was planning to do further experiments with his machine in the garden.

    One evening he took the sound machine to the garden and carefully placed it on a wooden table. He connected a pair of earphones to the machine. There was no one in the vicinity except a woman (Mrs. Saunders)walking down the garden with a flower basket in her hands. There was no wind and no other sound. He switched on the machine and listened to the sounds. He could hear only a faint crackling sound and a humming tone produced by the machine itself.

    He listened in rapt attention. The little needle crept slowly across the dial. Suddenly he heard a frightful piercing shriek. He looked around but there was no one around except Mrs. Saunders who was cutting roses and putting them into her basket. Suddenly he heard anotherfrightful shriek and looked around to see the person who had shrieked. Mrs. Saunders was the only person he could see. In excitement he asked her to cut another stem. She obliged and snipped another rose stem and Klausnerheard a clear ‘throatless’ shriek at the exact moment the stem was cut. Klausner had no more doubt regarding the source of the shriek he heard. He pleaded with her not to cut rose stems anymore.

    Next day morning he took his machine to the nearby park and placed it under a tree. He took an axe and swung it as hard as he could at the base of the tree trunk. The blade cut deep into the wood and he heard an enormous, low pitched screaming sound. He was sorry for hurting the plant. He called Dr. Scott immediately and he came without hesitation. He put the earphones into the doctor’s ears and told him to listen. Again he struck the tree with the axe.

    At that very moment a big branch of the tree snapped and came crashing down and smashed the machine into pieces. Dr. Scott ran for his life. They had a narrow escape. Klausner asked the doctor if he heard anything. He replied that he did not listen to anything as his first impulse was to escape from being crushed by the branch. Klausner then asked the doctor to stitch the wound made by the axe on the tree trunk. When the doctor refused, Klausner asked him to apply iodine to the gash.

    The outcome of his experiments was positive. He was able to listen to the cries of the rose plant and the beech tree. Klausner proved that man could listen to the inaudible high frequency sounds produced by things in the nature using a sound machine. It was ironic that the machine was smashed by the broken branch of the tree.

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