Determining Room Temperature UsingResonance and Wave Motion
Sound waves are an ideal part of everyday life- without them, people would not beable to hear. The significance of sound waves, however, goes far beyond the obvious partthey play in the transfer of sound: sound waves can be used to determine the temperature of a room.To understand the concepts of sound, a proper understanding of terminology must be obtained. Firstly, when an object (such as a tuning fork) is struck, it will vibrate. Whenthese vibrations have a large enough frequency (20 Hz to 20,000 Hz) they will be audibleto the human ear; this is known as sound. When sound waves hit matter, one of the possibleoutcomes is an interaction known as reflection. Reflection is what happens when thesound’s energy hits a boundary (water in this investigation) and is returned back into thestarting medium (air in this investigation).When looking at sound waves, the distance between two adjacent points that arevibrating in phase is known as one wavelength (symbolized by λ). When two sound wavesof identical frequencies, travelling in opposite directions, interfere with each other, theycreate a new wave known as the standing wave. A node is a point on the standing wavewhere the wave does not move, and is a point at which sound is loudest. In a standingwave, the distance between nodes is given by:
, where “d
” represents thedistance between nodes. A frequency of any sound wave that creates a standing wave iscalled a resonance frequency, and the length of the wave between one node and the node atthe closed end of the air column is known as a resonant wavelength.The speed of sound in air varies depending on the temperature of the air. Todetermine the speed of sound in air of any given temperature, the equation:
, where v
represents the velocity of sound, and T represents thetemperature in °C, can be used.When analyzing the frequency and velocity of sound waves, the frequency can bedetermined by using the formula:
, where f represents the frequency, v representsthe velocity and λ represents the wavelength.The purpose of this lab was to measure the temperature of the room using theconcepts of resonance and wave motion. The experimentally determined temperature wasto be compared to the actual room temperature as shown by a thermometer. It washypothesized that the experimentally determined room temperature would be close to theactual room temperature (within a range of 5°C).When performing the investigation, careful safety considerations were taken. Anywater that was spilled was immediately cleaned up; the tuning fork was not to be hit on ahard object, as that could have broken it.