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Waves & Sound

A. Waves
1. The nature of waves
a. A wave is a rhythmic
disturbance that transfers
b. All waves are made by
something that vibrates.

2. Mechanical waves need a

matter medium to travel
(sound, water, seismic)
3. Two basic types of waves:
b. Transverse

4. Wave properties:
a. Wavelength - distance
from a point on a wave to the
same corresponding point on the
next wave.
b. Frequency - number of
waves that pass a point in one
second (expressed in Hz).

c. Wavelength has an inverse

relationship to wave frequency.
d. Wave velocity depends on
the type of wave and medium.
1) Sound is faster in more
dense media and in higher
2) Light is slower in more
dense media, but faster in a

e. Amplitude - size related to
the energy carried by the wave.
1) Transverse - how high
above or how low below the
nodal line.
2) Compressional - how
dense the medium is at the
compressions & rarefactions.

5. Wave behavior:
a. Reflection - the bouncing
back of a wave.
1) Sound echoes
2) Light images
in mirrors
3) Law of

b. Refraction - the
bending of a wave caused
by a change in speed as
the wave moves from one
medium to another.

The girl
sees the
boys foot
closer to
the surface
than it
actually is.
at hisdown
not at
an angle.
closer to
him is
they really

c. Diffraction the bending of a

wave around the
edge of an object.
1) Water
waves bending
around islands
2) Water
waves passing
through a slit and

3) Diffraction depends on
the size of the obstacle or
opening compared to the
wavelength of the wave.

Less occurs if wavelength is

smaller than the object.

More occurs if wavelength is

larger than the object.

4) AM radio waves are

longer and can diffract around
large buildings and mountains;
FM cant.

d. Interference
- two or more
waves overlapping
to form a new

1) Constructive (in phase)

Sound waves that constructively
interfere are louder

2) Destructive (out of
Sound waves that destructively

e. Standing wave - a wave

pattern that occurs when two
waves equal in wavelength and
frequency meet from opposite
directions and continuously
interfere with each other.


f. Resonance - the ability of

an object to vibrate by absorbing
energy at its natural frequency.

B. Sound
1. Energy is transferred from
particle to particle through
2. How we hear
a. Outer ear collects sound.
b. Middle ear amplifies

3. Properties of sound
a. Intensity and loudness
1) Intensity depends on
the energy in a sound wave.
2) Loudness is human
perception of intensity.
3) Loudness is measured
on the decibel scale.

a) Threshold of hearing (0
b) Threshold of pain (120

b. Frequency and pitch

1) High frequency means
more vibrations hitting the ear.
2) Pitch is how high or how
low a sound seems to be.
3) Healthy humans can
hear from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz
4) We are most sensitive
from 440 Hz to 7,000 Hz.

5) Ultrasonic sound has a

frequency greater than 20,000 Hz.
a) Dogs (up to 35,000 Hz)
b) Bats (over 100,000 Hz)
c) Medical diagnosis
6) Infrasonic sound has a
frequency below 20 Hz; they are
felt rather than heard
(earthquakes, heavy machinery).

c. Speed of sound
1) 332 m/s in air at 0 C.
2) Changes by 0.6 m/s for
every Celsius degree from 0 C.
3) Subsonic slower
4) Supersonic faster than
sound (Mach 1 = speed of sound)
5) Sonic boom (pressure

d. The Doppler effect the

change in pitch due to a moving
wave source.
1) Objects moving toward
you cause a higher pitched sound.
2) Objects moving away
cause sound of lower pitch.
3) Used in radar by police
and meteorologists and in

4. Musical sound
a. Noise has no pattern.
b. Music has a pattern and
deliberate pitches.
c. Sound quality describes
differences of sounds that have
the same pitch and loudness.
d. Every instrument has its
own set of overtones.

e) Beats are pulsing variations

of loudness caused by interference
of sounds of slightly different

5. Uses of sound
a. Acoustics the study of
Soft materials dampen sound;
hard materials reflect it (echoes
and reverberations).
b. SONAR Sound Navigation
and Ranging (echolocation).
c. Ultrasound imaging
d. Kidney stones & gallstones.