Sound Off!

(Level: High School)

Sound is a wave, similar to the ripples on a pond or the ocean waves you might see crashing on a beach. Instead of being a wave on the ocean surface, sound is a wave that travels through a medium, such as air or water. Just as microphones are used to “pickup” sound in air, devices called hydrophones are used to receive sound underwater. Sounds recorded by hydrophones can be visually displayed to show the components of the sound. These components include the frequency (pitch) and intensity (amplitude, perceived loudness) of a sound. Scientists use these visualizations to help describe and understand sound. For example, most natural sounds will change in frequency and intensity over time, and this can be easily seen with a specialized sound visualization called a spectrogram.

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