The "Tin Cry" is an oft-described, seldom-heard phenomenon. If, it is claimed, you bend a bar of tin, it will "cry" as the crystal structure is disrupted. When NPR's Science Friday program asked to interview me about the Periodic Table Table, I decided it was time for the world to hear the tin cry live on the radio.
I had to make these bars in a hurry, before the kids woke up in the morning and needed to be fed, so I just poured out some silica sand and drew a line in it with my finger, then poured the molten tin into the groove, forming these crude bars. Then I bent them by hand and using a pair of pliers while holding them up to a microphone connected to a laptop.
Later I was able to make a super-high fidelity recording in the "dead end" studio at WGBH Boston, using the finest high sensitivity microphones available. My host family when I attended the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony, Jane and Miles, are both sound engineers at WGBH, and they kindly set up a recording session to capture this important element sound. That's the sound currently associated with the element: The first one I did wasn't nearly as good.
I'll let you be the judge of whether they "cry" or not: Personally I'd call it more of a crackle-crackle-crackle sound. In any case, click the speaker icon to hear it. I would be curious to hear from anyone who has created a better crying sound from tin.
Contributor: Theodore Gray
Acquired: 16 July, 2002
Price: $14/10 bags of weights