In this article, we will discover the fundamentals of longitudinal waves, how are produced and how they travel from the source to our ears.
Does an object, be it animate or inanimate, produce sound if there is no one to hear it? Now we get into physics, for as we get closer to the smallest particles, the behavior of the particles gets stranger. When we get to the level of quarks we enter the field of quantum physics; one dimension such as the case of our infinite universe. The superposition theory is a kind of magical event; it baffles the logical mind and there is no way to explain it concretely, but it can be tested in a laboratory. The Universe is the largest laboratory in the…Universe.
Why do we talk about the Universe? Eastern philosophy tells us that our cosmos is an endless sound without a beginning and they call it OM. Does OM exist without a listener? Perhaps someone might discover that, through meditation, one can go deeper into the fundamentals of infinity by dropping into oneself. Anyway, let’s get into the concepts of sound and waves.
The reason there is no sound in outer space is that sound is energy that vibrates; it travels by hitting nearby particles, making them vibrate. There are no particles in outer space for sound waves to jump from one molecule to another; outer space is empty, no molecules, no particles, no sound. Let’s penetrate the stratosphere and enter the planet Earth. Here, we have different types of particles and through them, waves can move, distorting the particles on their way from their source to our hearing.
There are three states of matter: Gas, Liquid, and Solid. Sound travels the fastest through solid media, being slightly slower through liquids and much slower through gases. Have you ever screamed underwater? It seems that the speed of sound waves is slower than that of air, the reason we have this sensation is related to our human nature and evolutionary changes over time. The human ear evolved to hear sound in air, leaving aside the ability to hear underwater. It would be fun to perceive the speed of sound underwater but in this case, efficiency was the predilection.
For fun, we have music. The difference between noise and music is that musical waves are structured; the frequencies that compose a piece of music are rational, ordered, and can be separated into layers. While music has a dominant frequency, noise is a combination of random frequencies. Music in its simple tone is monotonic; not a delightful ringtone but a dull one instead. A great song is a mixture of sound waves that produce a polyphonic, harmonious tone. Our voice could be either noise or music. It depends on the level of vibration and structure of the tone we produce. It also depends on perspective. Sometimes we like one melody, and a friend who is listening with us says that it doesn’t appeal to them. No matter what others think about our tastes, we are all human beings with a different set of talents, and all of us together, make an amazing mixture of particles.
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