Understanding Sound: Characteristics and Propagation

What is Sound?
What is Sound?
Sound is a mechanical wave transmitted by vibrations in a medium, such as air, water, or solids. It requires a medium to travel, making it impossible for sound to propagate in a vacuum.
Sound Wave Nature
Sound Wave Nature
Sound travels as longitudinal waves where particles oscillate parallel to the wave direction. Its speed depends on the medium's elasticity and density—faster in solids, slower in gases.
Frequency and Pitch
Frequency and Pitch
Frequency, measured in Hertz (Hz), dictates sound's pitch. High-frequency sounds have a high pitch, like a whistle, whereas low-frequency sounds have a low pitch, like a drum.
Amplitude and Loudness
Amplitude and Loudness
Amplitude of sound waves determines the loudness. Higher amplitude means a louder sound. Interestingly, the smallest amplitude a human ear can detect is known as the threshold of hearing.
Hearing Range of Humans
Hearing Range of Humans
Humans can hear frequencies from about 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. Sounds beyond this range exist but are inaudible to us, like infrasound (below 20 Hz) and ultrasound (above 20,000 Hz).
Sound Propagation
Sound Propagation
Sound intensity diminishes with distance, following the inverse square law. It means doubling the distance from the source decreases the intensity to a quarter of its original level.
Sonic Boom Phenomenon
Sonic Boom Phenomenon
A sonic boom occurs when an object moves faster than sound, compressing waves into a shock wave. It's not just heard once; it's a continuous effect as long as the object exceeds the speed of sound.
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Can sound travel in vacuum?
Yes, in any vacuum.
No, it requires a medium.
Yes, but only in space.