Acoustics is the interdisciplinary science that deals with the study of all mechanical waves in gases, liquids, and solids including vibration, sound, ultrasound and infrasound. Applications of acoustics are for instance the audio and noise control industries.

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Can I compute the mass of a coin based on the sound of its fall?

Other day, I bumped my bookshelf and a coin fell down. This gave me an idea. Is it possible to compute the mass of a coin, based on the sound emitted when it falls? I think that there should be a ...
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How can a black hole produce sound?

I was reading this article from NASA -- it's NASA -- and literally found myself perplexed. The article describes the discovery that black holes emit a "note" that has physical ramifications on the ...
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Why does our voice sound different on inhaling helium?

This question (and answer) is an attempt to clear the air on what appears to be a very simple issue, with conflicting or unclear explanations on the internet. Arguments, negations, etc are invited. ...
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Why don't two musical instruments sometimes generate destructive interference?

I'm an electrical engineer, and I understand wave propagation, interference patterns, and so on. But I'm missing something basic, so perhaps my understanding isn't as good as I believe. I'll show my ...
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Is it fair to judge this speedskating race by only 3 thousands of a second?

I'm reading this article: Zbigniew Brodka of Poland won the Olympic men's 1,500 meters speed skating title by just 0.003 seconds at the Adler Arena on Saturday. Brodka clocked one minute, ...
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Without seeing the lightning, can you tell how far away it struck by how the thunder sounds?

Is there any way to tell how far away a lightning strike is by how its thunder sounds? I thought one way might be by using the fact that higher frequencies travel faster than lower frequencies. Would ...
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Why do power lines buzz?

When near high tension power lines, particularly after a good rain, the lines themselves emit a buzzing noise. A similar noise can be heard coming out of the electric meters attached to my apartment. ...
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What is the minimum pressure of a medium for which a sound wave can exist?

At what pressure will be particles in a medium be unable to form a sound wave when disturbed? How can this pressure be described mathematically? My guess is that this would correspond to the point at ...
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Why can't you hear music well over a telephone line?

Why can't you hear music well well over a telephone line? I was asked this question in an interview for a university study placement and I unfortunately had no idea. I was given the hint that the ...
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How much air needs to be displaced to generate an audible sound?

I'm reading a book where in one scene a wizard/alchemist teleports a scroll after reading. He folded the parchment carefully and muttered a single cantrip. The note vanished with a small plop of ...
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Speed of sound at temperatures below 0 °C

How can the speed of sound be calculated for temperatures below 0 °C (down to -40 °C)? Does the calculation $v=331\ \frac{m}{s} + 0.6 \frac{m}{s°C} \times T$ still hold (where T's unit is ...
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How much information about the scale of a waterfall can be obtained from its sound?

Is it possible to constrain the height, volume flow, or distance of a waterfall from the quantitative analysis of a high-quality recording of its sound? As an aside, the simulated sounds of fluid ...
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Fourier transformation in nature/natural physics?

I just came from a class on Fourier Transformations as applied to signal processing and sound. It all seems pretty abstract to me, so I was wondering if there were any physical systems that would ...
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Why is the bell, well, bell shaped?

What is the significance about the bell shape, when its hit at the rim it rings/produces sound better than other shaped objects? If so could anyone explain a little bit on it. EDIT: From the ...
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The sound of rotating helicopter blades

Why do helicopter blades make this pulsing, oscilating, slapping(?) sound? Since their movement is smooth, shouldn't the sound be a similar, constant shush, perhaps increasing or decreasing in ...
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Physics of weird “boing” sound in racquetball courts?

While playing racquetball, I frequently hear a very prominent "boing" sound (or more formally, a chirp). For example, you can hear it in this video when the ball hits the front wall. Does anyone know ...
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Why does the note played by a flute not change in this case when the air column is interrupted?

I play the flute as a hobby, and I've noticed that when playing middle D or E flat, one can interrupt the air column by releasing a certain key (which is near the middle of the air column), and yet ...
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Why does the fundamental mode of a recorder disappear when you blow harder?

I have a simple recorder, like this: When I cover all the holes and blow gently, it blows at about 550 Hz, but when I blow more forcefully, it jumps an octave and blows 1100 Hz. What's the ...
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Why does the sound pitch increase on every consecutive tick at the bottom of a filled cup of coffee?

Since I don't know the proper physical terms for this, I describe it in everyday English. The following has kept me wondering for quite some time and so far I haven't found a reasonable explanation. ...
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If I shout at the sky, will some molecules reach escape velocity?

Will the sound waves, as they move higher and through less dense air, conserve energy to the point where some molecules of the rarified atmosphere attain escape velocity?
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Why does sound travel faster in iron than mercury even though mercury has a higher density?

The speed of sound depends on the density of the medium in which it is travelling and increases when the density increases. For example, in solids sound travels faster than in liquid and even faster ...
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What determines the pitch of an explosion?

It's bonfire weekend here in the UK, and everybody is intent on shooting fireworks. I was wondering, what determines the pitch of the sound produced by an explosion? The sound has clearly a ...
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Why do bubbles make a sound?

I have an understanding of how bubbles work. They encapsulate air (or other fluids) in a membrane caused by surface tension. When they pop, there is often a sound. Sound is a type of energy, kinetic ...
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How can you focus sound?

I saw this TED talk and I am curious as to how the sound is focused on the general level. Can anyone explain this or does anyone have any good articles?
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Why do I always hear remote train horn at night?

This is definitely not an illusion, as many people have the same experience. I have usually lived in places miles away from train stations, which makes it unlikely to hear any train horns during the ...
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Can light waves cause beats?

My question is pretty brief. When two sound waves of nearly same frequencies interfere, we get beats. But, I have not observed something like that happening in the case of light. In fact, most of the ...
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Do low frequency sounds really carry longer distances?

It is a common belief that low frequencies travel longer distances. Indeed, the bass is really what you hear when the neighbor plays his HiFi loud (Woom Woom). Try asking people around, a lot of them ...
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How small can you be and still hear?

According to my understanding, at the smallest level sound is just a collection of particles colliding on a wave. So, assuming we can arbitrarily reduce the size of any human being, how small can we ...
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Octave equivalence: biological or more?

I'm a graduate student in mathematics doing a bit of research in signal processing and Fourier analysis and I've come across a question that could probably be better answered by a physicist: Is the ...
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How does paper make sound when it is torn?

We know that from our experience when we tear up a piece of paper, we can hear a characteristic sound. What is the underlying mechanism behind it? What do the dominant frequencies (edit: I don't mean ...
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Is it possible to travel at precisely the speed of sound?

I've been talking to a friend, and he said that it's impossible to travel at exactly the same speed as the speed of sound is. He argued that it's only possible to break through the sound barrier using ...
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How does a Trumpet loud speaker work? [closed]

I pierced a hole in a cone shaped cardboard's tip and attached it to my phone speaker. Surprisingly the sound produced when attached is three times louder than the sound when it is removed. I do know ...
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Did Felix Baumgartner produce a sonic boom during his jump?

I really got to thinking about this. The speed of sound is measured at 761.2 MPH at sea level. But how does this number change as air density decreases? The lack of air density is what allowed his ...
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Is there an upper frequency limit to ultrasound?

Wikipedia has this diagram of the acoustic frequency spectrum: Is there an upper limit to the frequencies you can transmit through the air? Are they absorbed more and more at higher frequencies, ...
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Maximum delay for effective active noise cancelling?

Active noise cancelling reduces unwanted sound by sending the inverted phase of the original phase: (Source: Wikipedia) Theoretically, this seems logical to me. However, in real life, the ...
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Phonons in non-crystalline media

Do sound waves in a gas consist of phonons? What about a glass? Or other non-crystalline materials such as quasicrystals? How does the lack of translational symmetry affect the quantization of the ...
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Whistle Physics

I'm looking for a simple explanation of how a whistle operates. I know that forcing air over a sharp lip can set up a wave in a resonating cavity, but how? "Most whistles operate due to a feedback ...
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How does a steady wind flow generate sound?

When a wind blow through sharp edge, say, edge of a paper, you can see the vibration of the paper and hear the sound. For this type of oscillation, it should be a damped oscillation with external ...
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Why does my natural whistle have a maximum volume

When I whistle, I find that I can vary the volume by pushing more or less air through my mouth at once. However, when I increase volume past a point, I start to hear a blend of rushing air and a ...
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Why and how is sound produced when two objects hit each other?

When two objects collide and undergo a partially inelastic collision (so every one we experience in every-day life), they rebound to a certain degree, but kinetic energy is not conserved. Thus, the ...
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How loud is the thermal motion of air molecules?

In other words, given a magical room with walls that produce no vibration and transmit zero vibration from the outside, and nothing on the inside except room temperature air, what would be the noise ...
10
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Why doesn't more light bounce off of things in the manner of sound?

If I'm sitting in the den with my door slightly cracked, I can hear my wife washing dishes in the kitchen down the hall. But why can't I also 'see' images of her washing dishes if, say, I looked up on ...
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Why is a whistle sound emitted when air is pushed through a tight space?

Seems like a simple enough question: Why is a whistle sound emitted when air is pushed through a tight space?
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Does sound propagate further in freezing weather?

A few days ago I went for a walk in the evening. We're having winter with a little snow and freezing temperatures. We're in a quiet, shallow valley with a train station about 1km from us. I heard a ...
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Why do bass tones travel through walls?

I was in the shower while my roommate was listening to music and got to thinking about the fact that I could only hear the bass and lower drums through the walls. Why is this? The two possibilities I ...
10
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Slinky reverb: the origin of the iconic Star Wars blaster sound

This is a fun problem that I came across recently, which I'm posting here for your delectation. We all love a good slinky: they can be used for all sorts of fun demos in physics. One example is the ...
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Why can I tell a flute from a trumpet?

The usual story I've heard describing the difference between a 440 Hz note played by a flute and a trumpet is that the overtones are different. That is, if you play a note at 440 Hz, there will also ...
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What is sound and how is it produced?

I've been using the term "sound" all my life, but I really have no clue as to what sound exactly is or how it is created. What is sound? How is it produced? Can it be measured?
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_Actually_ hearing the shape of a drum

The problem of hearing the shape of a drum is well known as a mathematical problem. But what about as a problem of (1) physics and (2) human perception? Suppose you have the kind of membrane used ...
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What are the limitations of performing music in space?

Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield's song Space Oddity is making news around the world today. It makes me wonder: What are the limitations of performing music in space? Clearly, there is no point to ...