Sound travels through the air in the form of vibrations. These vibrations cause particles of air to compress together and this causes the air around them to move in such a way that they are driven in waves away from the source.Continue Reading
The way that sound travels is an oft discussed topic in basic science for younger children. Many kids can easily identify a source of sound and understand how the ear detects it, but struggle to understand the process in between.
Just like light, sound travels in waves caused by air molecules that vibrate. If a drum is banged the air molecules around the drum vibrate, and these vibrations cause air molecules slightly further away to shake in turn. The process repeats until the vibrations lessen and the sounds begin to dissipate.
A simple toy slinky is an excellent tool for demonstrating how sound waves work to budding scientists. Stretching a slinky across a desk and pushing one end rapidly illustrates the compression that causes air particles to bunch together as the wave is sent along the spring. The parts of the spring representing air molecules do not move and simply vibrate, while the wave noticeably bounces back towards the end that was pushed, representing an echo.Learn more about Optics & Waves
Energy is transferred in electromagnetic waves by vibrations in electric and magnetic fields. The vibration of air particles is energy transfer in sound waves, while the transfer of energy in water waves is the oscillation of water particles.Full Answer >
Mechanical waves transfer energy by inducing vibrations in the propagation medium. Electromagnetic waves do not require a medium for propagation, but still transfer energy by having an electric and magnetic field propagate perpendicular to one another.Full Answer >
Frequency refers to the number of vibrations that an individual particle makes in a specific period of time -- specifically, how often a wave peak goes by. Pitch, on the other hand, refers to the sensation of a frequency -- specifically, how high or low the frequency sounds.Full Answer >
Temperature affects the speed of sound by changing the density of the medium in which a sound wave travels. In most cases, when the temperature of a medium increases so does the speed of sound through that medium.Full Answer >