Experiment conducted 12/2010

PHY 152: General Physics

April 7, 2011

Discussion_____________________________________________________________ 2
Theory ________________________________________________________________ 2
Equipment ____________________________________________________________ 4
Experimental Procedure _________________________________________________ 4
Experimental Procedure _________________________________________________ 4
Setting up Resonance Tube ___________________________________________________ 4
Finding Points of Resonance __________________________________________________ 4
Calculations ___________________________________________________________ 6
Graphing the Data ___________________________________________________________ 6
Determining Wavelength _____________________________________________________ 7
Determining the Relationship Between Wavelength and Frequency __________________ 7
Converting from cm/s to m/s __________________________________________________ 7
Determining the Speed of Sound from Room Temperature _________________________ 7
Analysis_______________________________________________________________ 8
Determining the Percent Difference Between Speed of Sound _______________________ 8
Conclusion ____________________________________________________________ 8
Questions _____________________________________________________________ 9
References ____________________________________________________________ 9


The principle of resonance can by utilized to determine the wavelength of a sound wave.
Sound waves are produced by the compression of a substance by vibrations caused by objects
such as vocal cords, guitar strings, organ pipe, loud speaker, and so forth (Physics of Sound,
para. 1). A resonance frequency exists when a system is driven by its natural frequency.
Pendulums and swings demonstrate only one natural frequency (Spalding, 2010, pp. 3-15).

Conversely, a column of air can demonstrate several natural frequencies which are
determined by the amount of wavelength segments that can be found within a given tube
length. When a tuning fork possesses the same natural frequency as the air column, the
vibrations from the tuning fork will push the air particles at a frequency that will cause the air
column to vibrate.

Resonance is said to have occurred when the amplitude of sound increases from the
sound waves of the tuning fork reinforces the sound waves from the air column. By
determining points of resonance, the velocity of a wave can be determine by the equation

A sound wave can be created when a
tuning fork is held over an open portion
of a tube similar in respect to how sound
is created when a person blows air into a
bottle. In a closed air column, the open
end is termed the antinode, while the
closed end is termed the node. When a
tuning fork is placed over the open
region of the tube, a disturbance is
created by the alternative compressions
produced by the sound wave. A standing
wave is produced when the alternate
compressions and rarefactions of the
sound wave down the tubing are
reflected at the tubing¶s closed end into
the opposite direction therefore creating
the propagation of waves in the same
region although in opposing directions.
The nature by which a standing wave is
produced creates a condition where the
wave has fixed maximum and minimum

The shortest length of a tube to
resonate at a given frequency is satisfied
by a tube that is a quarter of the
wavelength or L=1/4Ȝ. This is because
half of the wavelength is represented by
the distance from one node to another
node, and the tube will resonate at the
tuning fork¶s frequency. Successive
resonant lengths can be noted when the
tube length represents an odd number of
quarter wavelengths including L=1/4Ȝ,
3/4Ȝ, 5/4Ȝ, and so forth (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Standing waves of L=1/4Ȝ and
L=3/4Ȝ respectively drawn using
Microsoft Paint.

In equation form, L=nȜ/4 when
n=1, 3, 5, 7«, and Ȝ=4L/n. When v=Ȝ· f,
then f =nv/4L when n=1, 3, 5, 7, and so
f =nv/4L n=1, 3, 5, 7,«.. (1)

In other words, the three
parameters that determine the condition
of resonance in an air column include fҏ,
v, and L where fҏ is the frequency or
number of vibrations per minute, v is the
velocity of sound in air in
meters/second, and L is the length of the
column of air in meters.

More wavelength segments fit
into the resonance tube when the length
of an air column increases when the
node-antinode requirements are met. An
observer will experience resonance by
noting an increase in the amplitude of
sound heard when the air column
reaches certain lengths that meet the
aforementioned conditions. The length
of the air column can be manipulated by
either adding or draining water from the
air column. An increase in amplitude
will be heard when the antinode is the
open end of the tube, and no increase in
amplitude will be heard when the node is
at the open end of the resonance tube.
The fundamental frequency or f is noted
by the lowest frequency, while higher
frequencies are termed overtones.

The length for the resonance can be
determined with a resonance that begins at
Ȝ/4 with subsequent increments of Ȝ/2 by the
equation L=


where n= 1 2, 3, and etc.



n= 1 2, 3,« (2)

The equation of a line y=a+bx
(where x represents the independent
variable, the y represents the dependent
variable, and the represents the intercept)
can be used to plot the resonance in a closed
air column. Therefore, the wavelength of a
wave in a resonance tube in a closed air
column can be determined by Ȝ=2·slope.

Ȝ=2·slope (3)

Additionally, when the wavelength
and the frequency of sound are known, the
velocity of sound in air can be determined
by the equation v

ൌ ɉ ȉ f.


=Ȝ·f (4)

The relationship between the speed
of sound and temperature is given by the
equation v

ൌ ͵͵ͳǤͶ ൅ ͲǤ͸ T


ൌ ͵͵ͳǤͶ ൅

(where temperature is represented in
degrees Celsius) since the speed of sound in
air is temperature dependent.


ൌ ͵͵ͳǤͶ ൅ ͲǤ͸ T


ൌ ͵͵ͳǤͶ ൅


For instance, at room temperature or
ʹͲ ǑC, the speed of sound is 343 m/s or 34,
340 cm/s.

L=1/4Ȝ L=3/4Ȝ

The materials of this experiment consisted of a resonant air column; two vertical metal
support rods with metal bases; a tuning for each of the frequencies at 512 Hz, 1024 Hz, and
2048 Hz; a rubber mallet; a room thermometer; a glass reservoir; and tap water.

Setting up the resonance tube

A resonance tube apparatus was set
up according to the diagram in Figure 2 by
securing a resonance tube (with centimeter
division marks) by a clamp to a vertical
metal support rod on one metal base and
attaching a connecting hose from the
resonance tube to a water reservoir can that
was clamped to a second vertical support
rod on a metal base. The room temperature
of the air was determined using a
thermometer and was measured at 20 ºC.

Figure 2. Resonance Apparatus (Resonance,
2011, para. 1).

Finding points of resonance

The glass resonance tube was then
filled with tap water. A 512 Hz tuning fork
was then hit by a rubber mallet in an area
away from the resonance tube, and then the
tuning fork was held approximately one
centimeter above the open end of the air
column. The height of the water column was
then adjusted by decreasing the height of the
water reservoir can. When the height of the
water column was adjusted rapidly,
resonance could be heard when the height of
the water column reached certain levels.

When changing the height of the
water column it was necessary to repeatedly
strike the tuning fork with the mallet in
order to maintain the vibration. It was also
sometimes necessary to pour excess water
into the glass reservoir. The positions of the
water column when the maximum sounds
were heard were labeled as n=1, 2, 3, and so
forth and the height in centimeters were then
recorded in data table 1.

Special attention was paid to avoid
recording relatively faint tones also known
as overtones that relate to frequencies that
are double and quadruple the frequency
being evaluated in the experiment. Those
tones suspected as being overtones were not
recorded. This procedure was repeated for
the 1024 Hz and the 2048 Hz tuning forks.


Table 1. Resonance of Tuning Forks at 512 Hz, 1024 Hz, and 2048 Hz with a room
temperature of 20 ºC.

Tuning Fork 1
(f)=512 Hz
Tuning Fork 2
(f)=1024 Hz
Tuning Fork 3
(f)=2048 Hz
1 15 1 7 1 3
2 49 2 24 2 11
3 81 3 41 3 20
4 57 4 28
5 74 5 37
6 91 6 45
7 53
8 62
9 70
10 80
11 87


Graphing the data
A graphical anaylsis of the each tuning fork was completed using Excel. The graph of the data
was drawn in order to obtain the slope of the lines and to facilate in the subsequant calculations. A
plot of a graph of length versus the sequential number of the resonant column was created for the
tuning forks at 512 Hz, 1024 Hz, and 2048 Hz. A regression line and slope were determined for each
of the tuning forks at 512 Hz, 1024 Hz, and 2048 Hz (see Figure 3).

Figure 3. Graphical analysis of the air resonance column at 512 Hz, 1024 Hz, and 2048 Hz.


Determing wavelength

From the slope of the lines of each
frequency, the wavelength was determined
using the equation Ȝ 2ȉ ݏ݈݋݌݁ ሺsee Table ʹሻ.

Worked example:

Ȝ=2·33.00 cm/n
Ȝ=66 cm

Table 2. Determing the wavelength of sound
using the slope of a line.

of Sound (cm)
512 Hz Ȝൌ 66 cm
1028 Hz Ȝൌ 33.48 cm
2048 Hz Ȝൌ16.91 cm

Determining the relationship between wave
speed and frequency

The relationship between the speed of a
wave and its frequency was determined using
the wavelength of sound found in Table 2 and
the equation v

ൌ ɉ ȉ f (see Table 3).

Worked example:


ൌ ͸͸ cmȉ ͷͳʹ Bz

ൌ ͵͵͹ͻʹ

512 Hz ͵͵͹ͻʹ cmȀs
1028 Hz ͵ͶʹͺͶ cmȀs
2048 Hz ͵Ͷ͸͵ʹ cmȀs
Table 3. Determing the wavelength of sound
using the slope of a line.

Converting from cm/s to m/s

The speed of sound was then convert from
cm/s to m/s with the equation v


ȉ ͲǤͲͳ


mȀs (see Table 4).

Worked example:

ൌ ͵͵͹ͻʹ
ȉ ͲǤͲͳ mȀs

ൌ ͵͵͹Ǥͻʹ mȀs
Table 4. Converting from cm/s to m/s.

Determinging the speed of sound from room

The speed of sound was determined using
the temperature found in the room where the
experiment was conducted by the equation

ൌ ͵͵ͳǤͶ ൅ ͲǤ͸ ܶ

(see worked equation).

Worked equation:

ൌ ͵͵ͳǤͶ ൅ ͲǤ͸ ȉ20 ºC

ൌ ͵Ͷ͵ǤͶ mȀs

Frequency (Hz) Velocity
512 Hz ͵͵͹Ǥͻʹ
1028 Hz ͵ͶʹǤͺͶ
2048 Hz ͵Ͷ͸Ǥ͵ʹ


Determining the percent difference of the speed of sound

The percent difference of the speed of sound for each of the experimental values was then
determined using the equation Ψ Biff ൌ
ȉ ͳͲͲ (see Table 6).

Worked example:

Ψ Biff ൌ
͵͵͹Ǥͻʹ mȀs െ͵Ͷ͵ǤͶ mȀs
͵Ͷ͵ǤͶ mȀs
ȉ ͳͲͲ
Ψ Biff ൌ െͳǤͷͻ

Table 6. Determining the percent difference of the speed of sound.

It has been shown that by knowing the frequency of a tuning fork and the position of water at
resonance points, the spee of sound can be determined.The speed of sound for the tuning forks at the
frequencies of 512 Hz, 1028 Hz, and 2048 Hz were determined to be 337.92 m/s, 342.84 m/s, and
346.32 m/s at room temperature.

The speed of sound was determined to be within less than five percent error compared to the
known speed of sound at room temperature of 343.4 m/s. The percent difference was greatest for the
frequencies of 512 and 2048 Hz and lowest for the frequency at 1028 Hz. The percent difference
range from negative percent differences to positive percent differences going from the lowest to
highest tested frequencies repectively.

Sources of error for this experiement may consist of mistaking overtones as resonance and
therefore including overtones in the data. Another source of error could include missing points of
resonance and therefore not including resonance points into the data. Furthermore, the length of the
air column could have been incurrectly interpreted when holding the tuning fork above the air
column and adjusting the the length of the air column.

Ψ Biff
512 Hz െͳǤͷͻ͸
1028 Hz െͲǤͳ͸͵
2048 Hz +ͲǤͺͷͲ

1. What is the most likely source of error in each experiment if the tuning forks and electronic tuning
fork are accurate to within 0.5%?

The most likely source of error would be to misidentify overtones as points of resonance.

2. Is there any indication that the velocity of sound depends on its wavelength? Explain.

The velocity of sound is mathematically related to the wavelenth in the equation ݒ

ൌ ߣ ȉ ݂. In this
experiment, the percent difference was negative for the lower frequency trialed and positive for the
higher frequency trialed.Therefore, there were minimal differences in the speed of sound found using
a range of frequencies. Usually, however, the medium by which the sound travels determines the
velocity of sound, and the wavelength of sound determines pitch.

3. The adult male larynx is quite a bit larger than that of the female larynx. What are the acoustical
consequences of that?

The human larynx produces changes in pitch and tone of vocalizations by adjusting the length and
tension of the vocal folds. The larger male larynx produces a lower pitch or apparent frequency, and
a smaller female larynx produces a higher pitch or apparent frequency. Pitch can be manipulated in
other objects by adjusting the tension of a string.

4. In a guitar, how would the pitch vary as µ changes? What about F?

By tightening a guitar string, the pitch and frequency increase, Likewise, by loosening a guitar
string, the pitch and frequency decrease.

Resonance. (2011). Retrieved March 25, 2011, from

Spalding, Roger. (2010). General Physics Laboratory Book. Monroe County Community

The Physics of Sound. (nd). Retrieved March 17, 2011, from

Water Resonance Experiment (nd). Retrieved March 18, 2011, from http://hyperphysics.phy-


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