If we have a source, like a speaker, but with no sound and only the vibrations, and this vibrations were transported to a surface which you can put your elbows on it and then put your hands to your ears, would you be able to hear a sound?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ How can you have vibrations without sound? Sound is vibrations... $\endgroup$ Jan 27, 2016 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps vibrations in the floor, or something like that $\endgroup$ Jan 27, 2016 at 19:41
  • $\begingroup$ If something is vibrating, it will create a sound. But suppose you are in vacuum and you put your elbow on the speaker. The vibrations will travel through your arm and the eardrums will vibrate too. However, the intensity will change. Everytime you speak, some amount of the sound you produce reaches through your skull to your ears. Due to this very reason, your voice sounds different when you record it. $\endgroup$
    – Quark
    Jan 27, 2016 at 20:33
  • $\begingroup$ This experiment seems relevant...youtube.com/watch?v=WrEnuOj7UbA $\endgroup$
    – DJohnM
    Jan 27, 2016 at 22:46

2 Answers 2


Such a thing is generally possible. You can test this really easy: take a tuning fork without resonator (so really just the fork itself), hit the desk, hold the fork in the air and listen. You will probably hear almost no sound. Now plug your ears, do the same and press the fork root against your forehead. You will see (hear :-) ).

Practically, that's a big issue when diagnosing someone's ear (that singular is on purpose!). Cause you can hear the sound via the skull bones vibration at surprisingly low sound pressure level by the healthy ear and diagnosis of the invalid ear is therefore distorted.


You would.

The bones in your arms would conduct the vibrations to your ears, though I'm not sure you could really call that hearing. The bones in your ears and near your ears would certainly feel the vibrations, but without some sort of mechanism that changes vibrations in solid matter to sound, you wouldn't exactly hear it. You hands, however, would probably strike against your eardrum (if you really stuck your finger in your ear) due to the vibration. This might create a little sound.

However, this seems like more of an anatomical question than a physics one.


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