Wednesday, June 6, 2012

"All the People Saw the Sounds" - How?

I have had several requests for the article giving the specifics of turning sound, specifically Hebrew letters, into graphic images (Seeing the Sound).  Here is the article – enjoy the miracle.

By Yaakov Guggenheim, engineer
How is it possible to see sounds?  The technical challenge When I saw the verse in Exodus: "And all the people saw the sounds ..." I asked myself how it was possible to see the sounds, and what did the People of Israel actually see at Mount Sinai?  According to Rashi: "They saw the audible."  If so, it must be possible to convert sound waves into an image.

The first idea was to find the relationship between the audible frequencies (20 Hz-20 kHz) and the much higher, visible frequencies of color detected by the human eye, at wavelengths from 0.35 micron (violet) to 0.75 micron (red), which encompass all the colors of the spectrum. According to one commentator, the Kli Yakar: "The People of Israel saw the letters."  In other words, G-d's words were grasped as visible letters of the alphabet.  Therefore, our conversion must retain the letters' graphic forms, such as for example, the round shape of the fifteenth letter samech ('0).  However, this assumes that the letters seen at Mount Sinai took the shape of the Ashuri script and not the ancient Hebrew script, in which the letter samech is written in an entirely different way.

However, the Talmud contains a difference of opinion as to which script was used (ET Sanhedrin 21b).  One of the opinions claims that the Torah was given in the ancient Hebrew script, but after the return from the Babylonian exile, the change was made to the Ashuri script.  The other opinion claims that the Torah was given in Ashuri script, and relates the word ashuri to the Hebrew word for honesty - yashrut. That original script was lost over time and replaced by the ancient Hebrew script.  With the return to the Land of Israel from Babylon, the original Ashuri script was rediscovered and used to write the scrolls of the Law.  This script is in use to this day.

In addition, for the experiment to succeed, the shapes of the letters must appear as images when spoken. This means that they must appear from right to left, as in Hebrew.  Thus, the graphic timeline must also flow from right to left as the letters appear on the computer monitor.

Through a microphone, sounds are expressed as changes in electrical current or voltage along a timeline. The graph here displays the spoken letter ayin as it appears on an oscilloscope. While it shows how far we are from discerning the shape of the letter ayin, it nevertheless points to the marvellous nature of this invention.  Further investigation revealed the complexity required for the frequency conversion; for converting sound to image requires an additional dimension.  Whereas an image is two-dimensional, as shown by the graph, the sound develops along a timeline (time being the third dimension - ZC). Even if we say that the sound is also two-dimensional - a flow along the Y-axis relative to time along the X-axis, the image must still be three-dimensional:

Time on the X-axis, frequency on the Y-axis and force on the Z-axis.

However we look at it, we must add a dimension.

Doesn't the fact that the Creator added a dimension to show us the sounds mean that it can be done?

In my CD lecture," I calculate the flow of information that must appear in real-time on the screen as a function of the flow of sound data.  The relationship is more than 100/1 and therefore, when I began this research, it was impossible to facilitate the conversion on a computer because of the vast number of calculations involved.  However, with the development of more powerful processing chips, it became possible to display the sounds continuously in real-time.

Finally, I reached the decision to display the image on the time-frequency plane, because I remembered the existence of a piece of electronic equipment called the sonograph, which I had seen years earlier at a university in Paris. This instrument displays a graphic representation of fluctuations in sound waves found in nature.  It is interesting to see that it displays a bird's chirping in the shape of a bird.  This instrument put me in the right direction, despite the continued existence of a large number of unanswered questions, such as the difficulty in creating an image of the round letter samech, when the sonograph displays only lines.

Another important issue: Given that the Creator also formed the human ear, it is certain that He took human physiology into account when the sounds were seen at Mount Sinai.  We therefore also had to take that into account and approach as close as possible the theoretical limits imposed by the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which defines the relationship between the resolution in the time DT and the resolution in the frequency DF, according to the equation: DT • DF >1/4 
π (<this is a pi).  Meaning that it is impossible to be simultaneously accurate in both time and frequency.

To summarize, we can say that the new invention constitutes a new type of sonograph, with an algorithm that maintains the ear's properties, while working at the limits of possible resolution.  Therefore, it is sufficiently reliable to make it possible to see the letters of the Holy Tongue, as they are created by speech.

The Results
Out of the twenty-two letters in the Hebrew alphabet (the Ashuri script), I produced images for seventeen letters (or eighteen, if I count the sixth letter vav, which cannot be analyzed properly because it is a short vertical line).  I must emphasize that the images were created directly from speech, through the use of a fixed mathematical conversion and the correct method of display.

To make it possible for anyone to do this experiment and see this amazing phenomenon for themselves, I have produced a CD with the appropriate software.  All the seventeen findings are presented on the CD with explanations and the software that makes it possible to repeat the experiment.

I hope that with the correct pronunciation, it will be possible to add to the seventeen letters already displayable which represent all five parts of the mouth used to produce the sounds): three gutturals, aleph, ayin and heh; three labials, peh, mem and bet; four palatals, gimmel, chaf, yod and kaf, two linguals, tet and nun; five dentals, zayin, samech, shin, tzadi and resh.

The Spiritual Side of this Discovery
The most important questions are: Why did G-d allow us see the sounds when the Torah was given at Mount Sinai? Why was it necessary?  What secret did G-d want to reveal to us thereby?

The answers are linked to the particular properties of human hearing and vision, and to the unification of the senses.

Hearing entails the receiving of sounds.  Yet sounds lack clear definition.  Who is talking?  From which direction are they talking?  In that sense, voices are more spiritual than visible, therefore loses the objectivity required to judge fairly.

At Mount Sinai, the People of Israel saw mighty revelations, they saw into the distance - to that which lies beyond the immediate senses.  They saw the spiritual with the certainty of seeing the material.  They saw the ineffable as tangibly real.

This means that when the Torah was given on Mount Sinai, the curtain that normally conceals nature was swept away (the numerical equivalent for the Hebrew letters of the word hateva, "nature," is 86, which is the same value as the letters of the Divine name "Elohim") and they witnessed the essential Name of God - the infinite force that creates limited reality (the latter being alluded to by the name Elohim, which represents the source of the vessels- letters [with which God creates the world]): "I am the L-rd your G-d".

In his book Sha'ar HaYichud Veha-Emunah ("The Portal of Unity and Belief") Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812) explains the connection [between creation and] the letters.  He interprets the word in the expression:
You give life to all" as "You give existence to all."  In other words, creation ex nihilo.  The three letters in the word "You" are aleph, the first letter in the alphabet, tav, the last letter and heh, the fifth letter. Thus, the word "You" (Atah) extends over the entire Hebrew alphabet, with the fifth letter heh signifying the five apertures of the mouth - the throat, palate, teeth, tongue and lips - which are the source of the letters.

We have found that the five apertures of the mouth restrict the range of sounds we produce and make them into an image (a process that reflects the process of creation as a whole: the breath of the mouth is the aspect of "nothingness" and the letter created is the aspect of "something").  In other words, that which can be seen and identified as a result of the "contraction" [of G-d's infinite light, through which the universe was created].

Note: The display of letters shown on Monday came from another scientist, who has made a very similar discovery.  He is Chayim Ben-Harav-Chai Elbeze, a physicist who works as an engineer at Israel's aircraft industry.  In 1997, he used software called Gram.X to display visually the pronunciation of the Hebrew letters.  His amazing findings that were shown yesterday were only a sample and not the complete grouping of 17 of the 22 Hebrew letters (they only showed six in the book from which I retrieved information). 


  1. Wonderful blog. Keep the information coming.

  2. BH , Hi i nedd to contact MR. Chayim Ben-Harav-Chai Elbeze to make a presentation for kirub , can you help me?

    1. I do not have the information on Rav Chayim but I do have it for Rav Zamir Cohen who wrote the book from which I took the information. Rav Cohen lectures on all the scientific information in his books, but only in Hebrew. Are you needing to set up a Kiruv session in Hebrew or English and where? Let me know by my Email address --