Day: January 24, 2016



      Sound                    01/24/16


“What is sound?”


It might come as a surprise to many that all of the opulent varieties of sounds that we listen to are nothing more than simple vibrations of air! Everytime we move our vocal cords, the surrounding medium is perturbed. Consequently, this perturbation stimulates a mechanical wave that propagates throughout the enveloping space. Since waves are contingent on the medium that they travel through, sounds greatly affected by the density, pressure, motion, and viscosity of the aforementioned medium, with the speed of sound being dependent on the density. (Furthermore, if no medium is present, then sound can not exist! The reasoning is simple, if sound is nothing more than a disturbance in a medium and no medium is present, then no sound can be created. It’s like trying to send send an electrical signal with no wiring! So that’s why in space, no one can hear you scream).


When such medium disturbances reach the human ear,sound waves collected by the ear lobe are passed through the ear canal which stimulates a vibration in the ear drum. The vibrations in turn are amplified by small bones in the inner ear, and the cochlea (inner ear) turns these mechanical vibrations into electrical signals which are guided by the auditory lobe in to be processed by the ever so scrupulous brain. Furthermore, the brain is able to synthesize information about the sound by determining it’s pitch (frequency), time duration, loudness (amplitude), Timbre (quality), sonic texture, and spatial location.

Isn’t it flummoxing how over the years curious Scientists have corroborated the seemingly insoluble problem of sound? To think that all of our auditory sensations are nothing more than mechanical disturbances in the surrounding medium is absolutely bewildering. And most dazzling is when one considers the fact that all of these sensations are just electrical signals in the brain.