Pitch, in physics, is equivalent to the frequency of sound waves, which are any compression waves in a medium. The word "pitch" is used specifically in situations where humans are perceiving the frequency of sound and changes in that frequency. Differences and changes in perceived pitch aren't always the same as the actual differences and changes in the frequencies of the sounds perceived.Continue Reading
In general, the perception of higher pitches and lower pitches is accompanied by higher and lower frequencies of sound, but this isn't actually always the case. For instance, high pitches are perceived to grow higher as they grow louder, and low pitches are perceived to grow lower as they grow louder.
The frequency of sound waves isn't referred to as pitch in situations where it is purely measured by scientific instruments. Indeed, the smallest unit of pitch is called a cent, which means the smallest difference in pitch detectable by the human ear. Different people have different abilities to perceive and identify pitch. A tiny proportion of the population actually has perfect pitch, the ability to identify a pitch without reference to any other standard pitch. This ability is far less developed in humans than the perception of color, which is the equivalent perception of the frequency of light.Learn more about Optics & Waves
Electromagnetic and mechanical waves differ in that electromagnetic waves are always longitudinal and do not require a known medium, while mechanical waves are either longitudinal or compression waves and require a medium. All known electromagnetic waves are also known as forms of light. An example of a longitudinal mechanical wave is a wave in water, while sound is an example of a compression wave.Full Answer >
Ocean and light waves represent types of transverse waves impacting their medium perpendicular to their direction of travel. Ocean waves travel on the surface of water, forcing the water down along their path. Light waves travel across the electromagnetic spectrum, at right angles to vibrating electrical and magnetic fields.Full Answer >
Light travels faster than sound because sound waves can only travel as waves of pressure in a medium, whereas electromagnetic waves, of which light is made, move on their own even through vacuum. Light's speed decreases a little when it goes through various mediums, as electromagnetic waves interact with the medium at a subatomic level. Sound's speed depends on the medium through which it travels.Full Answer >
All types of waves, including sound waves, can be refracted when they interact with a medium or move from one medium to another. One example of refraction of sound is when the sound of thunder is refracted upwards because of a change in air temperature, from cold to warm.Full Answer >