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What is sound?

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What is sound? Sound is a form of vibration passing through the air or some other material. Sound travels in the form of waves but, unlike electromagnetic waves, sound waves cannot pass through a vacuum.

The frequency of a sound wave controls its pitch. Long wavelengths produce deep sounds, while short wavelengths produce higher sounds. The loudness of a sound depends on the height of the sound waves, or their amplitude. The higher the amplitude, the louder the sound.

Sound vibrations are received in your ears. They are conveyed to a mechanism inside your ears that first amplifies them, then converts the vibrations into signals that your brain interprets as sound.

How many sounds can we hear?

Compared to other animals, the human ear is not very sensitive. We can hear sounds with a fr equency of up to 20 kilohertz (kHz) - a normal speaking voice is about 1 kHz. Bats, dogs and some insects can hear sounds that are pitched much higher, which we cannot hear at all.

Children can usually hear a bat squeaking, although this sound can sometimes be as high as 120 kHz, but in adults the ability to hear these high-pitched sounds is usually lost. 'Supersonic' dog whistles are used to call dogs, and their sound is so high-pitched that humans cannot hear it at all.

Bats produce a continuous high-pitched squeaking in flight, and the echoes from this sound allow them to navigate in darkness and even to locate the small flying insects on which they feed.


Tags: vibration, frequency



Category: Science & Tech  - ( Science & Tech Archive)

Date Added: 13 December '11


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