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Sound Wave Properties. What we have learned:. Sound is a longitudinal wave. (A mechanical wave caused by a vibration) Sound (mechanical wave) requires a medium . Wavelength and frequency are inversely related. Molecules interact , producing sound

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what we have learned
What we have learned:
  • Sound is a longitudinal wave. (A mechanical wave caused by a vibration)
  • Sound (mechanical wave) requires a medium.
  • Wavelength and frequency are inversely related.
  • Molecules interact, producing sound
  • Examples: Vocal chords, guitar or piano strings, tuning fork, etc.
longitudinal wave
Longitudinal Wave
  • Referred to as a PRESSURE WAVE
  • A sound wave has high pressure and low pressure regions moving through a medium
  • The high pressure regions are called compressions, (molecules are compressed)
  • The low pressure regions are called rarefactions, (molecules are spread out)
sound and frequency
Sound and Frequency
  • The frequency of a sound wave (or any wave) is the number of complete vibrations per second.
  • The frequency of sound determines its pitch
  • The higher the frequency, the higher the pitch
  • The lower the frequency, the lower the pitch
  • Wavelength is the distance between two high pressures or two low pressures
  • Wavelength and frequency are inversely related
  • A short wavelength (high frequency) results in a high pitch
frequency and the human ear
Frequency and the human ear
  • Humans can hear a range of frequencies from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz
  • The older you get, the hearing range shrinks
  • Sound waves with frequencies below 20 Hz are called infrasonic
  • Sound waves with frequencies above 20,000 Hz are called ultrasonic
hearing range frequencies
Hearing Range Frequencies
  • The human ear is sensitive to difference in pressure waves
  • The AMPLITUDE of a sound wave determines its loudness or softness
  • This means the more energy in a sound wave, the louder the sound
  • Sound intensityis a measure of how much energy passes a given point in a time period
  • Intensity is measured in decibels
  • Every increase of 10 dB has a 10x greater amplitude
  • Most people perceive an increase of 10 dB to be about twice as loud as the original sound
reducing sound intensity
Reducing Sound Intensity
  • Cotton earplugs reduce sound intensity by approximately 10 dB.
  • Special earplugs reduce intensity by 25 to 45 dB.
  • Sound proof materials weaken the pressure fluctuations either by absorbing or reflecting the sound waves.
  • When the sound waves are absorbed by soft materials, the energy is converted into thermal energy.
sound behaviors reflection
Sound Behaviors: Reflection
  • Reflection of sound results in an echo
  • Sound waves leave a source, travel a distance, and bounce back to the origin
  • Animals, like bats, use echoes to locate prey
  • Other uses include determining distances between objects, echocardiograms
  • The distance the sound travels to get back to the origin is 2x the distance between the sound source and boundary
sound behavior refraction
Sound Behavior: Refraction
  • Refraction occurs when sound moves from one medium to another
  • The wave bends, and the speed changes
  • Even when sound moves from warmer areas to cooler areas, refraction occurs
sound behavior diffraction
Sound Behavior: Diffraction
  • Diffraction occurs when sound waves pass through an opening or through a barrier
  • Low pitched sound waves travel farther than high pitched sound waves
  • Animals use diffraction for communication
  • Velocity of sound depends on the medium it travels through and the phase of the medium
  • Sound travels faster in liquids than in air (4 times faster in water than air)
  • Sound travels faster in solids than in liquids (11 times faster in iron than in air)
  • Sound does not travel through a vacuum (there is no air so sound has no medium)
velocity and temperature
Velocity and Temperature
  • In air at room temperature, sound travels at 343 m/s (at 20°C). This is about 766 mph.
  • As temperature increases, the velocity of sound increases

v= velocity of sound in air

T=temperature of air in °C

v=331 + (0.6)T

wave equation
Wave Equation
  • The basic wave equation is also applied to sound:
  • V= velocity, measured in m/s
  • λ= wavelength, measured in meters
  • f= frequency, measured in hertz
example problems
Example Problems:
  • Sound waves travel at approximately 340 m/s. What is the wavelength of a sound wave with a frequency of 20 Hz?
  • What is the speed of sound traveling in air at 28º C?
  • If the above sound wave has a frequency of 261.6 Hz, what is the wavelength of the wave?
natural frequency
Natural Frequency
  • Nearly all objects when hit or disturbed will vibrate.
  • Each object vibrates at a particular frequency or set of frequencies.
  • This frequency is called the natural frequency.
  • If the amplitude is large enough and if the natural frequency is within the range of 20-20000 Hz, then the object will produce an audible sound.
factors affecting natural frequency
Factors Affecting Natural Frequency
  • Properties of the medium
  • Modification in the wavelength that is produced (length of string, column of air in instrument, etc.)
  • Temperature of the air
  • Timbre is the quality of the sound that is produced.
  • If a single frequency is produced, the tone is pure (example: a flute)
  • If a set of frequencies is produced, but related mathematically by whole-number ratios, it produces a richer tone (example: a tuba)
  • If multiple frequencies are produced that are not related mathematically, the sound produced is described as noise (example: a pencil)
  • Resonance occurs when one object vibrates at the same natural frequency of a second object, forcing that second object to vibrate at the same frequency.
types of resonance
Types of Resonance
  • Resonance is the cause of sound production in musical instruments.
  • Energy is transferred thereby increasing the amplitude (volume) of the sound.
  • Resonance takes place in both closed pipe resonators and open pipe resonators.
  • Resonance is achieved when there is a standing wave produced in the tube.
boom whackers
Boom Whackers
  • Using the boom whackers, determine what happens to the frequency when the cap is taken off the pipe.
  • Draw a standing wave fro the pipe when the cap is on and when the cap is off.
closed pipe resonator
Closed pipe resonator
  • open end of tube is anti-node
  • closed end of tube is node
harmonics of closed pipe resonance
Harmonics of Closed Pipe Resonance
  • The shortest column of air that can have a pressure anti-node at the closed end and a pressure node at the open end is ¼ wavelength long. This is called the fundamental frequency or first harmonic.
  • As the frequency is increased, additional resonance lengths are found at ½ wavelength intervals.
  • The frequency that corresponds to ¾ wavelength is called the 3rd harmonic, 5/4 wavelength is called the 5th harmonic, etc.
open pipe resonator
Open pipe resonator
  • both ends are open
  • both ends are anti-node
harmonics of open pipe resonance
Harmonics of Open Pipe Resonance
  • The shortest column of air that can have nodes (or antinodes) at both ends is ½ wavelength long. This is called the fundamental frequency or first harmonic.
  • As the frequency is increased, additional resonance lengths are found at ½ wavelength intervals.
  • The frequency that corresponds to a full wavelength is the second harmonic, 3/2 wavelength is the third harmonic, etc.

1. Tommy and the Test Tubes have a concert this weekend. The lead instrumentalist uses a test tube (closed end air column) with a 17.2 cm air column. The speed of sound in the test tube is 340 m/s. Find the frequency of the first harmonic played by this instrument.


L = λ/4

4 x L = λ

4 x .172 = .688 m

v = f λ

340 = f (.688)

f = 494 Hz


2. Matt is playing a toy flute, causing resonating waves in a open-end air column. The speed of sound through the air column is 336 m/s. The length of the air column is 30.0 cm. Calculate the frequency of the first, second, and third harmonics.

  • L = λ/2

2 x L = λ

2 x .30 = .60 m

v = f λ

336 = f (.60)

f = 560 Hz. (first harmonic)

2nd harmonic = 560 + 560 = 1120 Hz.

3rd harmonic = 1120 + 560 = 1680 Hz

  • Pick up the review guide at the front.
  • Place yourselves in your lab group from Tuesday
  • Follow the directions at the lab table where you are seated.
sound and hearing
Sound and Hearing
  • Acoustics is the branch of physics pertaining to sound
  • The ear converts sound energy to mechanical energy to a nerve impulse that is then transmitted to the brain
  • Our ears allow us to perceive changes in pitch
  • Our ears are sensitive to a particular range of frequencies between 1,000 – 4,000 Hz.
the outer ear
The Outer Ear
  • The outer ear consists of the earlobe and the ear canal
  • Sound enters the outer ear as a pressure wave
  • The outer ear provides protection to the middle ear and protects the eardrum
the middle ear
The Middle Ear
  • The middle ear is an air-filled cavity that consists of an eardrum and three tiny, interconnected bones - the hammer, anvil, and stirrup.
  • The eardrumis a very durable and tightly stretched membrane that vibrates as the incoming pressure waves reach
  • The stirrup is connected to the inner ear
The sound waves will then vibrate the Tympanic Membrane(eardrum)which is made of a thin layer of skin.
The tympanic membrane will then vibrate three tiny bones: theMalleus (hammer),theIncus (anvil),and theStapes (stirrup)
the inner ear
The Inner Ear
  • The inner ear consists of a cochlea, the semicircular canals, and the auditory nerve
  • The cochlea and the semicircular canals are filled with a water-like fluid
  • The fluid and nerve cells of the semicircular canals provide no role in the task of hearing; they speed up the detection of sound
inside look of the cochlea
Inside look of the Cochlea
  • The stapes vibrates the cochlea
  • The frequency of the vibrations will stimulate particular hairs inside the cochlea
  • The intensity at which these little hairs are vibrated will determine how loud the sound is.
  • The auditory nerve will then send this signal to the brain.


  • Every increase of 10 dB has a 10x greater amplitude
  • Most people perceive an increase of 10 dB to be about twice as loud as the original sound

A mosquito’s buzz is often rated with a decibel rating of 40 dB. Normal conversation is often rated at 60 dB. How many times more intense is normal conversation compared to a mosquito’s buzz?

  • 2
  • 20
  • 100
  • 200

On a good night, the front row of the concert may result in a 120 dB sound level. An IPod produces 100 dB. How many IPods would be needed to produce the same intensity level as the front row of the concert?

  • 10
  • 20
  • 100
  • 200
what is the doppler effect
What is the Doppler Effect?
doppler effect
Doppler Effect
  • Sound waves move out in all directions
  • The Doppler effect is a change in the apparent frequency due to the motion of the source or the receiver
  • Example: As an ambulance with sirens approaches, the pitch seems high. As the ambulance moves by the pitch lowers.
doppler effect1
Doppler Effect
  • As the wave travels outward, the front of the wave bunches up, producing a shorter wavelength
  • We hear a higher



The back of the wave spreads out, producing a longer wavelength

  • We hear a lower frequency

Observer A hears a low pitch (lower frequency)

  • Observer B hears the correct pitch (no change in frequency)
  • Observer C hears a high pitch (high frequency)
When the source goes faster, the wave fronts in the front of the source start to bunch up closer and closer together, until...
uses of the doppler effect
Uses of the Doppler Effect
  • Police use Doppler to measure your speed with radar
    • A frequency is sent out with a radar gun
    • The sound wave hits your car and bounces back to the police car
    • Speed can be determined based on the frequency changes received
  • Radar can be used to determine the speed of baseballs
  • Astronomers can determine the distance to other galaxies
  • Bats use Doppler to locate prey
    • If the bat is catching the prey, the frequency is high
    • If the prey is moving away from the bat, the frequency is low
doppler equation
Doppler Equation
  • = frequency detected by observer
  • = frequency produced by the source
  • = velocity of the sound wave
  • = velocity of the detector (observer)
  • = velocity of the source
things to remember
Things to remember
  • The velocity detected by the observer (vd) is negative if the observer moves away from the source
  • The velocity detected by the observer (vd) is positive is the observer moves toward the source
  • The velocity of the source () is negative if the source moves toward the observer
  • The velocity of the source () is positive if the source moves away from the observer

A trumpet player plays a C note of 524 Hz while traveling in a convertible at 24.6 m/s. If the car is coming toward you, what frequency should you hear? Assume the temperature is 20°C.


p.405 # 1-5 (use table 15-1 for the speed of sound in various media)

p. 409 #6-8 Read Carefully!

  • What type of wave is a sound wave?
  • What is a compression? Rarefaction?
  • Based on yesterday’s class, state the relationship between wavelength and the pitch of a sound wave.
  • Explain in one sentence how blowing across a straw produces a sound.
  • How can you change the loudness of a sound you produce?