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The Kyma Legend:  A Voyage through the World of Waves

The Kyma Legend: A Voyage through the World of Waves

The Kyma Legend: A Voyage through the World of Waves

From the infinitely large to the infinitesimally small, and travelling through various complex forms of life, Kyma, Power of Waves is an incredible voyage to the limits of art and science.


Inspired by the immersive experience Kyma, Power of Waves, this blog post explores the phenomenon of waves in their many different forms. Waves surround us and are a part of our everyday lives—but most of the time they remain invisible. Let’s try to help you see them…

* The experimental 360-degree video clips in this blog were taken from the original work, which was designed for fulldome projection. To optimize your viewing experience, use Google Chrome (if you’re using a computer) or download the Vimeo app (if you’re using a tablet or smartphone). In the latter case, tap the glasses icon to activate Google Cardboard and enjoy the experience in VR.

What is a wave?

A wave is a disruption or vibration that modifies temporarily an environment while traveling. A wave carries energy as it moves but not matter from the environment.

A fly caught in a spider’s web creates a wave that oscillates the web.

A drop falling into a puddle creates ripples on the water’s surface.

Acoustic waves

Waves compress and decompress the medium through which they are propagating while traveling. These waves cause our eardrums to vibrate if they reach our ears; this is the perception of sound. They require an ambient environment to move: sound does not propagate in a vacuum.

If the in-and-out movement is periodic, it creates a sensation that is pleasing to the ear: music.

Sounds that are not periodic are perceived as noise.

Whales emit low frequency sounds while they sing, allowing them to achieve long-range communication.

Seismic waves

Elastic energy waves that propagate in all directions during an earthquake due to the fracturing of rocks and the releasing of stored energy. Some seismic waves propagate in depth and are the source of the rumblings we hear when an earthquake begins. Others travel at the surface and can do considerable damage.

Certain vulnerable zones are more prone to earthquakes. The Charlevoix region in Québec is one such area: 350 millions years ago, a meteorite fall carved out a huge impact crater also known as an astrobleme.

Gravitational waves

Waves produced by periodic distortions of the space-time continuum that propagate at the speed of light while barely perturbing the matter they go through. Thus, an accelerating celestial body will cause ripples in the space-time continuum, like wave on the surface of water.

Albert Einstein postulated with his theory of general relativity (1915) that space and time are closely coupled together. Space-time can be represented as an elastic membrane that can potentially be deformed by massive bodies.

A gravitational wave, caused by the merger of two black holes, was detected for the first time in 2015.

Observing gravitational waves allows us to study black holes in more details and to learn more about the first moments of the universe.

Electromagnetic waves

Waves produced by the oscillation electrically charged particles of matter. Unlike other types of waves, they do not require an ambient environment to propagate and can move through a vacuum. These waves are carried by photons travelling at the speed of light.

Light is an electromagnetic wave. It comes in many different forms, from gamma rays to radio waves to light visible to the human eye.

Electromagnetic waves spread throughout the universe. This is how astronomers can study distant bodies using the light they emit.

Electromagnetic waves are ubiquitous in our every day life. For instance, cell phones, television and radio function thanks to electromagnetic waves.

Probability waves

In quantum mechanic, a wave packet is interpreted as a probability amplitude that a particle in a particular state will be measured to have a given position and momentum. According to the Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, these waves describe more or less the probability density function of finding a particle in a given area.

In 1929, Louis de Broglie from France won the Nobel Prize in Physics after discovering the wave-like behaviour of matter. According to his hypothesis, each particle possesses its specific wave.

Clinton J. Davisson and Lester H. Germer proved de Broglie’s hypothesis by experimenting the diffraction of electrons by crystals. They won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1937.


Conceived and directed by Philippe Baylaucq, the fulldome film Kyma, Power of Waves is being presented at the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium in Montreal until May 9, 2018. This blog post was written in partnership with Space for Life, which also partnered with the NFB to create the immersive projection itself.

To find out more about Kyma and its creator Philippe Baylaucq, read this interview.

Kyma, Power of Waves completes a triptych that includes Lodela (1996) and ORA (2011). Each of these works explores new ways of storytelling and new technologies.

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