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Speed of Sound
The speed of sound is the distance travelled by a propagating sound wave in an acoustic 1 medium per unit of time. A sound wave is effectively a pressure disturbance that disturbs the particles around it and thereby disturbing the particles around them and transporting energy through the medium. Sound can travel through solids, liquids and gases, but not through a vacuum. Sound may travel by transverse or longitudinal waves2 in solids, but only by longitudinal waves in fluids. In the two most prevalent acoustic media – air and water – the speed of sound 332 ms-1 at 0°C and 1435 ms-1 at 9°C respectively . General equation for the speed of sound. The Newton-Laplace equation

relates the speed of sound c to the stiffness K ( the bulk modulus or the modulus of bulk elasticity for gases) and the density ρ. Speed of sound in an ideal gas For an ideal gas where is the adiabatic index3 and substitution into the equation above that is the pressure. It follows by

Speed of sound in solids For solids with a large cross-sectional area the speed of sound can be determined by the following formula

where Y is the Young’s modulus of elasticity, ρ is the density and υ is Poisson’s ratio. For solids of small cross-sectional area the effect of Poisson’s ratio can be neglected

Acoustics BBC Bitesize - Longitudinal and Transverse Waves 3 Enggcyclopedia – Specific Heat ratio / adiabatic index
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