Determining the Speed of Sound invoking the phenomenon of Wave interference in a Close-ended Pipe

Jesse S. Ceniza Physics Department, University of Carlos, Cebu City

Wave speed is often expressed as the product of the wavelength and the frequency of the wave. At normal atmospheric pressure, the temperature dependence of the speed of a sound wave (v) through air is approximated by the following equation: v = 331 m/s + (0.6 m/s/C)•T, where T is the temperature of the air in degrees Celsius. The experiment was conducted at normal atmospheric pressure with the temperature of the surrounding air is closely monitored and kept constant at 26.5° C. In this experiment, the frequency of the sound is already known as it is produced by a function generator. Its wavelength was determined by investigating the sound intensity in a close-ended pipe. Since the wavelength of a sound producing a standing wave in a pipe is twice the distance between successive nodes or antinodes, the pipe used in the experiment contains a movable piston which can slide in and out of the pipe to create different pipe lengths for the determination of successive nodes or antinodes. The results show that the speed of sound is 347.2m/s which yields a 0.806% error from what is theoretically projected – a manifestation that indeed the speed of sound can be determined using the phenomenon of wave interference in a closeended pipe.

1. Introduction
People have always been interested on how fast or slow an object moves – for safety purposes, scientific advancement, or just for curiosity’s sake. Instruments, like speedometer, have been developed to readily determine the speed of an object. However, in most cases, speed is still something to be computed using parameters that are within the bounds of its definition – the distance traveled per unit of time [1]. Taking into account that everything which travels has speed, more often than not, a tape measure, a ruler, or a meter stick and a stop watch are insufficient for one to be able to measure the speed of an object especially when the object travels relatively fast, like Sound. It has been experimentally measured that at Standard Temperature and Pressure sound travels at 331 m/s [2]. But the question is, how was this measured? Thus, this paper presents a method of determining the speed of sound using the phenomenon of wave interference in a close-ended pipe.

2. Theory
A sound wave is a pressure disturbance which travels through a medium by means of particle-to-particle interaction. As one particle becomes disturbed, it exerts a force on the next adjacent particle, thus disturbing that particle from rest and transporting the energy through the medium [3]. Like any wave, the speed of a sound wave is often thought about in term of one cycle of change; how far does it travel and how long does it take? The distance traveled in one cycle is called the wavelength (L), and the time is called the period (T). Wave speed (v) is then the ratio of the wavelength to the period. Often, the frequency (f) is used in place of the period. The frequency and the period are reciprocals [4]. When frequency is used to express timing, the wave speed equation becomes v=fL. (1)

To determine wave speed both frequency and wavelength must be measured. The frequency of sound may be determined with an oscilloscope while the wavelength may be determined by investigating sound intensity in a tube. A standing wave is created when sound waves are propagated through a pipe or tube. Thus, the wavelength of a sound producing a standing wave in a tube is twice the distance between successive nodes, region of minimum amplitude in a standing wave, or antinodes, region of maximum amplitude in a standing wave [4].

the antinodes are those regions with which a maximum peak to peak value for the signal in the second channel is displayed. movable plunger/piston. The frequency of the sound that was introduced was varied from 800 Hz to 2000 Hz.. the nodes are those regions which project the minimum peak to peak value in the second channel. In this experiment. the average distance between two antinodes was recorded correspondingly. was then inserted into the other end of the pipe. to which a microphone that is connected to the second channel of the oscilloscope is attached. the handle of the movable plunger/piston is marked. pipe.Methodology The measurement setup is composed of the function generator (sound source). 4. Four antinodes were located from which the average distance between antinodes is computed. This so because lower than 800 Hz. The frequency of the sound generated was displayed in the first channel of the oscilloscope. is inserted in the other end of the pipe. The sound source is connected to the speaker which is attached to one end of the pipe. and oscilloscope as shown in figure 1. speaker. To determine the distance between successive nodes. On the other hand. At the other end of the pipe. An oscilloscope is used to analyze the frequency of the sound produced by the function generator. As depicted by the oscilloscope. Table 1 presents the data gathered from the experiment. Results and Discussion The frequency for the sound introduced was varied from 800 Hz to 2000 Hz. When an anti-node is observed. the distance between successive antinodes were noted as it more observable – it can be clearly distinguished even without the signal from the second channel of the oscilloscope. the antinodes span in a certain interval of distance which would introduce a greater amount of error in the experiment since what should be gotten is a discrete value for the distance between antinodes. Measurement Set-up A sound produced by the function generator was fed to the speaker that was attached to the pipe. For every frequency used. sound of frequency greater than 2000Hz is also difficult to analyze since the distance between antinodes is relatively small.3. A tape measure is used to measure the distances between antinodes. as well as to detect the nodes and antinodes of the standing waves produced in the pipe. Similarly. the peak-topeak value displayed by the second channel is used to reinforce the consistency of the distances measured. the movable plunger/piston. . Figure 1. since both the microphone and the function generator are connected to it. a movable plunger/piston is to which a microphone is attached. Nevertheless.

0880 .1292 .396 x 10-4 6.1290 .1748 .1730 .1300 .1285 . the Average Anti-node Distance x 2 is equal to its Wavelength.1787 To implicitly determine the speed of sound. Wavelength vs.3497 0.Table 1. moreover.1755 . Figure 2.0900 Average Anti-node Distance (m) .000 x 10-3 7.1080 . Table 2 summarizes this information.110 x 10-4 Wavelength (m) 0.2177 0.3497 0.144 x 10-3 1.2583 0.231 x 10-4 5.1970 . Period Graph .1095 .0893 Average Antinode Distance x 2 (m) 0. Corresponding Wavelength of each Period Period (s) 1.2177 0.2000 .1088 . the values in Table 2 are then plotted using MATLAB as shown in Figure 2.1997 .1090 .0900 Anti-node Distances (m) .1760 .3993 0.2583 0.0 1000 1352 1605 1957 . Corresponding Average Anti-node Distance of each Frequency Frequency (Hertz) 874. Table 2.2020 .3993 0.1787 The reciprocal of the Frequency of sound waves used in the experiment is equal to the Period of the wave.

http://physics. http://www.htm 3. the temperature of a 0. which is generated by MATLAB.html#top has its own set of human and instrumental errors. Since the temperature of air when the experiment was conducted was at about 27° C. the speed should have been 347.The equation y = 350x + 0. error in estimating the distance between antinodes).html 4.pstcc. limitation of the tape measure that it cannot give the exact distance between antinodes).il. Nevertheless.about. http://hop. instrumental error (limitation of the oscilloscope that it cannot display a steady frequency of the sound produced by the function generator.6 m/s/C)•T. which directly affects the theoretical speed.concord.2 m/s.htm error is acquired. References 1. implies that the slope of the graph is equal to 350 m/s which happens to be the speed of sound obtained from the experiment. In comparison with the experimental value which is 350 m/s.806% error manifests that it is feasible to determine the speed of sound invoking the phenomenon of wave interference in a closed-ended . Generalization At normal atmospheric pressure. 4.k12. a 0. theoretically. the speed of sound wave (v) through air is approximated by the following equation: v = 331 m/s + (0. (2) where T is the temperature of the air in degrees Celsius [5].00032. This can be attributed to the following: human error (error in judging and perceiving the antinodes. Furthermore.wikipedia. http://en.

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