You are on page 1of 3

3/7/2017 LabIII9Waves:SpeedofSound

iePhysics

ExperimentIII9

Waves:SpeedofSound
Wavespervadetheuniverse.Weexperiencesoundwavesandlightwaves.Wavemechanicsexplains
atomsandsubatomicmatter.Loopsofwavesofenergycalledstringshavebeenproposedastheessence
ofeverythingintheuniverse.

Wavesindeformable(elastic)matterarecalledmechanicalwaves.Unlikethetransversemotionsof
objectsstudiedearlier,onlythedisturbanceofthewavemovesfromonelocationtoanotherwhile
thedisplacedmatteroscillatesaroundtoitsequilibriumlocation.Materialcanbedisturbedbya
waveinthreedistinctdirections:

Forexampleinsound,thematerialcanbealternatelycompressedandrarifiedina
disturbancethatexpandsoutwardsfromthesource.Thewavetravelsthesame
directionasthedisturbance.Thisiscalledalongitudinalorcompressionwave.

Onthesurfaceofaliquid(e.g.,theocean)orsheet(e.g.,aflag)thematerialis
displacedperpendiculartothesurface.Forexamplethesurfaceoftheoceangoes
upanddownasthewavecrossesthesurface.Thisiscalledatransversewave.

Cohesivematerialsmaybetwistedaroundtheaxisofthewavetravel(e.g.,alawn
hoseorawire)withneighboringpartsofthematerialreceivingthetwistaveryshort
timelater.Thisiscalledatorsionalwave.

ViewanimationsofseveralswavesonDanRussell'swebsiteatKetteringUniversity.(Ifusingaslow
modem,besuretowaituntilallthreeanimationsload.)

Unlikeourcommonobservationthattwoobjectscan'toccupythesamespace,multiplewavescan
simultaneouslyoccupythesamespace.ViewthetopanimationonpassingwavesonDanRussel'sweb
site.

Experiment
Itisconvenienttolabelseveralaspectsofawave:thedistancefromonepartofawave,(sayitshighest
valuecalleditscrest)tothenextsimilarpartofthewaveiscalledthewavelength,commonlylabeledwith
thesymbol.Thetimebetweenthepassageofapartofthewave(sayacrest)andthenextsimilarpartis
calledtheperiod,T.Thenumberofwavesthatpassalocationinaunitoftimeiscalledthewave's
frequency(waves/second=Hertz),commonlylabeledwiththesymbol.Wavescarryingmoreenergyare
largerinamplitude.

Theproductofawave'sfrequency,,andwavelength,,givesthespeedatwhichthewavemoves,c:
=c

http://d1068036.site.myhosting.com/ePhysics.f/labIII_9.html 1/3
3/7/2017 LabIII9Waves:SpeedofSound

Notethattheproductoftheunitsoffrequency,1/sec,timesthatofwavelength,m,producestheunitsof
speed,m/sec.

Ifawavestrikesabarriertheywillreflect.Whenacontinuousseriesofwavesofuniformfrequencyare
reflectedfromabarrier,thereflectedwaveswillencountertheincomingwaves.Whereverareflected
crestmeetsasimilarincomingcrest,thetwowaveswillmomentarilysumcreatingadoubleamplitude
wave.Whereveracrestencountersatrough,itsopposite,thetwowaveswillcancelcreating
momentarilyalocationofnearzeroamplitude.Thisprocesscalledinterferencecreatesaregionof
standingwavestwicetheamplitudeoftheoriginalwave.Ifthewavesaresoundwaves,theregionsof
constructiveinterferencewillbetwiceasloudwhilethecancelingregionswillbenearlysilent.This
constructiveinterferenceoccurseveryHALFwavelength.Youmaywishtoviewananimationof
suchstandingwavesonthePhysicsClassroomwebsiteandconfirmthis.

Ifacontinuoussoundentersatubeclosedononeend,itwillreflectattheclosedendcausing
interference.Butiftheopenendisrelativelysmall,asignificantamountofreflectionwilloccurthereas
well.Thisreflectionattheopenendcanbereducedbyflaringtheopeningascommoninmanymusical
instruments.Ifthetubeisjusttherightlength,reflectionsfromboththeclosedandopenendswillresult
inaresonanceofrepeatedconstructiveinterferencewithnoticeableamplification.Butifthetubeisany
otherlength,theinterferencewillbedestructive.Ifthesoundisabroadbuzzingattheclosedend
createdbyvibratinglips,onlythefrequencythatisresonantwiththelengthofthetubelengthwillbe
amplifiedandproducedbytheinstrument.

Inthisexperimentasinglefrequencyofsoundwillbeproducedandthelengthofthetubemodifieduntil
itmatchesthatneededtoproduceresonanceandthesoundamplified.Graduallychangingthetube
lengthwilleventuallyreachanotherlengthwhichamplifiesthesound.Doublingtheproductofthe
frequencyofthesoundwiththedifferenceinlength(whichisalsotheminimumlengthneededforresonance)
willcalculatethespeedofthesound.

Materials
downloadfolderofsoundfiles.
computerwithspeakertoplaysoundfiles
~60cm(2foot)lengthofstraight1.25"(3.2cm)diameterPVCpipe(orsimilarsubstitute)
containerwith~0.5mdepthwater

Procedure
1.Holdingthepipeverticallyabovethewater,playoneofthesoundfiles
nearby.Looptheshortfileinyourcomputer'ssoundplayersothatit
playsaslongasneeded.
2.Withyourearnearby,slowlylowerthepipeintothewateruntilmaximum
amplificationbyresonanceisfound.Whenconstructiveinterferenceof
reflectedsoundwavesoccurs,onegetstheimpressionthatthesoundis
emitteddirectlyfrominsidethepipe.Thissensationiscausedbythe
increaseinloudnessduetothisresonance.Theresonancepointcanbe
obtainedbyfineadjustmentsupanddownseekingmaximumsound
amplitude.
3.Measurethedistancebetweenwaterlevelandtheendofthepipeopento
theair,L.
4.Continueloweringthepipeintothewateruntilthenextresonance
maximumisfoundandmeasured.
5.Usethedifferenceinthetwodistances,L,tocalculatethespeedofthesoundwaves,c=2L.
http://d1068036.site.myhosting.com/ePhysics.f/labIII_9.html 2/3
3/7/2017 LabIII9Waves:SpeedofSound

6.Theprocedurecanberepeatedtolocateathirdresonancepoint.Taketheaveragespeed.
7.Repeattheprocesswithdifferentfrequenciesofsoundtodeterminehowthespeedofsoundvaries
withfrequency.

Communicatingtechnicalinformationsuchasobservationsandfindingsisaskillusedbyscientistsbut
usefulformostothers.Ifyouneedcoursecredit,useyourobservationsinyourjournaltoconstruct
aformalreport.

References
ExperimentbyWiltonPereiradaSilva,JrgenW.Precket,DiogoD.P.S.eSilva,Cleiton
D.P.S.eSilva,TheSpeedofSoundinAir:AnAtHomeExperiment,ThePhysicsTeacher,Vol
43,April2005
soundfilesfromhttp://www.dfcct.hpg.com.br/freq.htmlgeneratedbyTestToneGenerator
software,onlineathttp://www.esser.unet.com/ttg.htm
DanRussell,AcousticsandVibrationAnimations,KetteringUniversityinFlint,MI
TomHenderson,HighSchoolPhysicsTutorial,ThePhysicsClassroomandMathsoftEngineering
&Education,Inc,originallydevelopedforphysicsstudentsatGlenbrookSouthHighSchoolin
Glenview,Illinois.

backtopreviousscreen

tonextexperiment
toePhysicsmenu
tositemenu

created22March2005
revised16January2007
byDTrapp

http://d1068036.site.myhosting.com/ePhysics.f/labIII_9.html 3/3