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Meaning of 'Harmonic'

February 7th Fact-of-the-Day

The term 'harmonic' has several meanings in science and mathematics, some of which have little or no obvious relationship to each other. Ask a radio engineer what a harmonic is and you probably will be told it is a frequency that is an integer multiple of a fundamental frequency. Ask a scientist or mathematician and you might be told it is the frequency resulting from simple harmonic motion which also is called harmonic oscillation (a fundamental sinusoidal frequency), or you might be told that a harmonic range is a set of four collinear points arranged in a certain way along a ling segment, or you might be told about harmonic means which have nothing to do with sinusoidal frequency. The term 'harmonic' probably originated in music theory where it refers to notes having small integer frequency ratios that harmonize when played together. ©2005 Martek International All rights reserved.


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