If you’re lucky, you can say that you have all your methods of perception which include taste, touch, sight, smell, and sound. Each of these play a significant role in a person’s life and without just one, it can be very hard to adapt.
One of the most interesting senses has to be the sense of sound. According to the Oxford Living Dictionaries, sound can be defined as “vibrations that travel through the air or another medium and can be heard when they reach a person’s or animal’s ear.” The speed of a wave can be determined by the amount of distance it has traveled in a certain amount of time. You can use a simple equation by dividing the distance by the time traveled in order to get the solution of the amount of speed traveled. Sounds are made up of waves and they can be found in solids, liquids, and gases, but they begin traveling slower and slower when they travel through each one of these properties. We can thank Leonardo Da Vinci for being the first person to discover that sound traveled in waves back in the 1500’s.
However, in 1640, Martin Mersenne was the first person to actually measure the speed of sound in air. With these two discoveries, it opened the doors for many other people to go into more depth with sound vibrations. We would start to discover the frequencies in sounds, the acoustics behind sound, and how the speed of sound worked in many different situations. The concept behind sound is so broad and there is so much knowledge to comprehend when going into a topic like this. Sounds are all around us each and every single day, and if people don’t have the ability to hear, the vibrations that sounds create can be felt and observed as well. In order to fully understand the physics behind sounds, we must break it down first.
Studying sounds has benefited our world in many different ways, whether it be through medical advancements, technology, or even how animals communicate. Sounds can travel in longitudinal waves and Jonathan Osbourne from brightstorm.com explains this as “…waves which move particles in the direction of the wave motion.” To put this in a simpler sense, it just means that in whatever environment (such as liquids, solids, or gases) a wave travels through, it moves back and forth in the same direction as the wave is moving. If we look at how sound energy moves in a solid, we can notice that the particles inside of the solid are compacted very close together.
Due to this, scientists have determined that sound travels the fastest when going through a solid. In a liquid, the particles are a bit more separated, and in gases, the particles are even more separated. Within every sound wave, we can easily locate what is known as a frequency.
A frequency is usually related to a pitch and they correspond with one another. We can tell how high and how low a pitch is based on the sound waves that are being produced. For example, if air is vibrating back and forth more times per second, we can conclude that it will have a higher pitch, and of course if it is vibrating back and forth fewer times per second, it will have a lower pitch. This begins to transition to how our ears pick up sound and how we differentiate certain sounds to others.We have grown accustomed to using our ears everyday, whether it be when our alarms wake us up in the mornings, or when we get a phone call, or when the bells in school ring. The process that it takes for sound to travel through every medium in order to get to our ears is a bit complex as it has many parts to it. According to the article, How We Hear, by Patricia E. Connelly, “.
..Our ears work to transform the acoustic stimulus that travels down our ear canals into the type of neural code that our brains can recognize, process and understand.” We can measure sounds by using what we know as a decibel scale, which is a logarithmic scale that increases by powers of 10. Determining how loud a sound will be can be found through the amplitude of a sound wave. If a sound were to reach up to as high as 85 decibels, it could potentially cause permanent damage to the ears, but this would also depend on how long you continued hearing that sound. Frequencies and decibels are related to each other because they are both used to describe sound levels and the number of cycles of a sound wave in any given time. As we begin to age, we begin to lose the ability to detect frequencies on both the lower side and the higher side.
We can normally hear sound waves that are between 20 hertz and 20,000 hertz and just because we are limited to these numbers does not mean that any other numbers above or below do not exist. Anything above or below these hertz exist because they are energy. An example is how elephants can communicate with each other while us humans can’t even hear it. It all goes back to sound waves and how they are detected by ears. Sound waves are surprisingly being used in modern technology to help us advance in certain aspects of life. There has been a newly discovered system that will use sound in order to find land mines.
According to nationalgeographic.com, “Donskoy’s system works by using a loudspeaker to simultaneously blast two deep frequencies over the minefield.” They will use the vibrations from these frequencies to cause the mines to vibrate, thus discovering its location. This can also go back to how sound travels through solids, liquids, and gases, which is also something that Donskoy kept in mind when doing this project.
More projects are being created using sound waves and frequencies in order to have more of an advantage within the army. In conclusion, the concept behind sound is a very broad one and there are so many things to discover when learning about it. When you open one door and find a new discovery, another door immediately opens and leads you to a whole other chain of discoveries. Sounds travel in waves and these waves have amplitudes that can determine how loud a sound can actually get.
Decibels are also used in order to measure sound for the human ear and we use a decibel scale to do so. The scale is logarithmic and it increases by powers of ten, starting from zero. Pitches can also be detected by figuring out how many vibrations are happening in the air every second. When you go back to the 1500’s and notice how one man discovered how sound traveled in waves and you see how far we’ve come since then, it truly is remarkable at how advanced we are becoming in modern day life. There is most likely way more that we can learn about when it comes to sound and more that we will discover in the near future, especially now with all of our advanced technology.
There are high hopes in continuing to develop our knowledge on sound in order to help us with medical innovations, technological innovations, and even out in the battlefield. These innovations are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to sound, but there will be more advances in the nearby future if we continue to study the power of sound.