How Does Sound Travel?

Published: 24th January 2011
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Sound is an amazing factor, it helps us to communicate. Sound is a series of compression waves that travel from a source. Sound can travel long distances and its speed depends on the density of the medium through which it travels. Sound travels through various types of medium that contains molecules. For example, water, air, solids or anything that has molecules close to each other help sound waves to move through. When they move, they cause the particles in this substance to vibrate and create sound. So without a medium, sound cannot travel.

The speed of sound depends on the density of the medium. Higher the density of the medium, slower the sound travels. So sound travels at different speeds in solids, liquids, and gases. The frequency of a sound is the total number of vibrations that have been produced. The length of the sound waves varies according to its frequency. The longer the frequency and pitch of the sound, the shorter is its wavelength.

For the sound to travel, it needs to be created. There should be something like water, air, etc that can vibrate and create waves. Therefore, the sound waves are essentially variations of pressure that exists in the molecules. To visualize the nature of sound waves, think of when you hear an alarm clock ringing. You're listening to energy that sets off from somewhere inside the clock, travels through the air, and arrives some time later in your ears. These waves are compression waves and travel in the form of sound.

Sound travels faster if the molecules are bunched closer. When you place your ear on a railroad track, you can listen to the train coming along before you hear its sound in the air. This is because the molecules in the air are far apart while the molecules in the railroad track are packed tightly and enables the sound to travel faster.

Sound waves lose energy as they travel. This is because once the vibration has been passed along; the molecules left behind slow their vibration. Such molecules have essentially transferred the energy along causing rarefactions. That's why we can only hear things so far.

We hear the sound when the vibrating molecules reach the outer ear and enter the inner ear. A thin stretched membrane called the ear drum catches the vibrations, which are fluctuations in air pressure and sends them to the three smallest bones in the body. These bones then convert these fluctuations into electrical signals and transmit them to the brain through the auditory nerve. Your brain then translates all that and tells you what you are hearing.

Chris is the writer of this article , you can visit us for more information on how does sound travel and how ultrasound works.

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