Mechanical motion forms through the sound waves made by vibrating massive objects. Guitar, harp or piano strings are clear examples of the principle, but horns, percussive instruments and woodwinds also create vibrations that make sound waves. Even ordinary objects create sound waves if they vibrate.Continue Reading
Sound waves are mechanical in nature, making them differ from electromagnetic waves, which are responsible for light. This mechanical nature means that sound only propagates through a medium, whereas light can travel through a vacuum. This is why a bell in an air-tight, vacuum jar cannot make a sound, yet is still easy to see.
Sound waves have a variety of characteristics that relate to the characteristics of the vibrating object. For example, the pitch or frequency of the sound waves is directly related to the vibrating frequency of the object. Similarly, objects whose vibrations have a high amplitude produce sound waves with a high volume.
The sound produced by most objects is composed of innumerable vibrations within the object, each of which produce slightly different pitches. These minor frequencies are called harmonics, and the sum of their vibrations creates the overall tone. Usually tones have a single powerful harmonic, often called the fundamental tone.Learn more about Optics & Waves
An echo is the reflection of sound waves off distant objects, whereas flutter echoes bounce repeatedly off multiple surfaces. An example of an echo is when someone shouts into a well, or along canyon walls, and the sound of the human voice comes back to the person's ears. A flutter echo occurs in large buildings with parallel walls, such as gymnasiums, where sounds increase to create loud environments.Full Answer >
Echoes work through the reflection of sound waves. When a person shouts into a well or canyon, and they hear an echo, it is because the sound waves reflect from the canyon wall or the bottom of the well and travel back to the person's ears.Full Answer >
Sound waves occur when an object vibrates and transfers that energy into the air or another medium. When a vibrating object moves forward, it compresses the air molecules in front of it, and when it moves backward, it leaves a gap where they can expand or rarefy. The vibration produces many of these compression and rarefaction pairs, which travel away from the source of the vibration through the air.Full Answer >
Light is made up of billions of tiny particles known as photons, which travel from one place to another place in waves known as light waves. Visible light waves are the only electromagnetic waves that the human eye can see. These waves are visible as the seven colors of the rainbow known as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.Full Answer >