Facts About Sound
Listen…what do you hear? Chances are you will hear the sound of something. It could be the hum of an appliance, people speaking or even a clock ticking. Sound is all around us. But what do we really know about sound? Read on to discover what sound is and other resounding facts.
What Is Sound?
Sound is actually an energy wave of molecules that create a vibration. Sound can travel through and bend around many objects, including water. Check out how sound works:
- When an object moves it creates a vibration.
- Vibrations move air particles around.
- These moving particles are constantly bumping into each other.
- Our ears can pick up these “particle-vibrations” as sound.
- Fast moving particles create a high sound, while slow ones are low-sounding.
Sound Check; Sound waves are also called, “pressure waves.” This is because they push the particles they are passing through.
Hey! What Did You Say?
Our ears are the connection to sound waves. But did you know there is a whole lot of stuff going on in there?
Human ears are specially designed to catch every little sound, sort of like a funnel. Deep inside our ears there are tiny bones and an eardrum. When sound waves enter our inner ear, these begin to vibrate. The sound vibrations then make their way into a fluid-filled chamber called, the cochlea. From here the vibrations tickle tiny hairs that are connected to our hearing-nerve (auditory nerve). These nerve cells then transmit to the auditory part of our brain, where they are sorted out. The ear-brain connection is how we can distinguish between different sounds.
Sound Check; the hearing of a fox is so good it can hear a mouse squeaking 100 meters (330 feet) away. It can even catch the sound of a mouse scratching underground!
Did You Feel that Sound?
You may have felt sound at work with a huge rumble of thunder. You not only could hear it, but if the storm was close enough, you could possibly feel the noise through your entire body.
Let’s try a fun experiment. Place your hand over your throat. Now hum a tune. You should feel a vibration. This is your vocal cords moving very rapidly back and forth. Sound is like this vibration when it moves through objects. A purring cat is also another excellent way to feel sound at work.
Sound Check; lightning makes the way for us to hear thunder. A bolt of lightning will heat up air particles very quickly. These particles are then pushed outwards, making a huge sound wave better known as, thunder.
The Speediness of Sound
Although sound does not travel as fast as light, it is still pretty speedy. Sound travels at different rates through different objects. Check out the speed of sound through these mediums.
Sound travels through dry air the slowest. It hits speeds of 343 meters-per-second. This means it can go one mile (1.6 kilometers) in around five seconds.
Sound travels even faster in water at 1,482 meters-per-second.
Sound travels the fastest through steel at 4,512 meters-per-second..
Sound Check; the voice of a whale can travel up to 800 kilometers (479 miles) through the ocean waters!
Breaking the Sound Barrier
When you are in a noisy classroom, your teacher may think all this chatter is breaking the sound barrier. However, in order to do this, you’d have to travel faster than the speed of sound. What can reach this intense speed? A fighter jet.
These especially designed aircraft can zoom at speeds faster than sound or “Mach 1.” Once this jet hits its top speed, it will produce a sonic boom – this is like an enormous explosion. The “boom” is created by a number of sound waves all crashing together because the jet is moving faster than they can.
Sound Check; Once a fighter jet passes through the speed of sound, it appears to have a white halo around it. This is caused by tiny water droplets all falling away at the same time.
More Freaky Facts About Sound
If you haven’t heard enough about sound, check out these freaky facts.
- there is no sound in space because there is nothing for it to bounce off of?
- flies cannot hear sound?
- animals with large ears can hear better than those with small ears?
- an echo is produced when the sound waves are bounced off of an object, rather than being absorbed?
- if you were to hollar continuously for 8 years, 7 months and 6 days, you would produce enough sound-energy to heat a cup of cocoa?
- the loudest natural sound on Earth is that of an erupting volcano?
Now that you have learned all these amazing facts, you know the huge role sound plays in our lives. Be sure to share what you have learned here today. Who knows? You might just become known as, the “the master of resounding facts.”