Imagine a piano on the moon. You strike a chord. Since there is no atmosphere, there is no medium for the sound to travel. so where does the sound energy go? Does it just dissipate as another form of energy?

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    $\begingroup$ The piano vibrates. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Jul 17, 2022 at 1:20

2 Answers 2


The strings making up the chord and the body of piano will vibrate for a longer period of time since none of that energy will be used to create pressure waves in 1 atm of air.

  • $\begingroup$ eventually heat -> infrared radiation $\endgroup$
    – anna v
    Jul 17, 2022 at 4:19
  • $\begingroup$ What decides whether energy transforms into another certain type of other energy? $\endgroup$ Jul 18, 2022 at 11:04
  • $\begingroup$ The conditions of the system. The purpose of a piano is to take the vibrations of a thin string and amplify by moving large volumes of air as sound waves. So most of the system energy will go into this process. The reason a sound eventually decays are thermal losses from moving air mass and internal thermal losses (string friction). Removing the air changed the system so that the decay depends only on internal friction and heat increasing the duration of the vibration. $\endgroup$ Jul 18, 2022 at 15:45

both the strings on the piano and the structure of the piano itself will vibrate without radiating away any sound energy, but since they both possess internal friction, the vibrational energy will eventually be converted into heat in the string and the piano structure.


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