The self-excited multi-scale mechanical vibrations, their sources and their mutual coupling of different regions on the forearms of supine subjects, are experimentally investigated, using a simple noncontact method, optical video microscopy, which provides 1 μm and 25 ms spatiotemporal resolutions. It is found that, in proximal regions far from the radial artery, the vibrations are the global vibrations of the entire forearm excited by remote sources, propagating through the trunk and the limb. The spectrum is mainly composed of peaks of very low frequency motion (down to 0.05 Hz), low frequency respiration modes, and heartbeat induced modes (about 1 Hz and its harmonics), standing out of the spectrum floor exhibiting power law decay. The nonlinear mode-mode coupling leads to the cascaded modulations of higher frequency modes by lower frequency modes. The nearly identical waveforms without detectable phase delays for a pair of signals along or transverse to the meridian of regions far away from the artery rule out the detectable contribution from the propagation of Qi, some kind of collective excitation which more efficiently propagates along meridians, according to the Chinese medicine theory. Around the radial artery, in addition to the global vibration, the local vibration spectrum shows very slow breathing type vibration around 0.05 Hz, and the artery pulsation induced fundamental and higher harmonics with descending intensities up to the fifth harmonics, standing out of a flat spectrum floor. All the artery pulsation modes are also modulated by respiration and the very slow vibration.

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