Q16. What term describes sounds capable of being heard by the human ear?
Q17. Are all sounds audible to the human ear? Why?
REQUIREMENTS FOR SOUND
Recall that sound waves are compression waves. The existence of compression waves depends on
the transfer of energy. To produce vibrations that become sounds, a mechanical device (the source) must
first receive an input of energy. Next, the device must be in contact with a medium that will receive the
sound energy and carry it to a receiver. If the device is not in contact with a medium, the energy will not
be transferred to a receiver, and there will be no sound.
Thus, three basic elements for transmission and reception of sound must be present before a sound
can be produced. They are (1) the source (or transmitter), (2) a medium for carrying the sound (air, water,
metal, etc.), and (3) the detector (or receiver).
A simple experiment provides convincing evidence that a medium must be present if sound is to be
transferred. In figure 1-12, an electric bell is suspended by rubber bands in a bell jar from which the air
can be removed. An external switch is connected from a battery to the bell so the bell may be rung
intermittently. As the air is pumped out, the sound from the bell becomes weaker and weaker. If a perfect
vacuum could be obtained, and if no sound were conducted out of the jar by the rubber bands, the sound
from the bell would be completely inaudible. In other words, sound cannot be transmitted through a
vacuum. When the air is admitted again, the sound is as loud as it was at the beginning. This experiment
shows that when air is in contact with the vibrating bell, it carries energy to the walls of the jar, which in
turn are set in vibration. Thus, the energy passes into the air outside of the jar and then on to the ear of the
observer. This experiment illustrates that sound cannot exist in empty space (or a vacuum).
Figure 1-12.No air, no sound.
Any object that moves rapidly back and forth, or vibrates, and thus disturbs the medium around it
may be considered a source for sound. Bells, speakers, and stringed instruments are familiar sound