Research Experiment to Determine the Speed of Sound Essay

Research Experiment to Determine the Speed of Sound Essay

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Sound is the sensation that our brain interprets when vibrations carried to our ears stimulate the auditory nerves. It is produced by the compression and rarefaction of matter. The speed of sound depends on the properties of the medium such as bulk modulus, density and the temperature though which it travels. It does not depend on the source of the sound. Sound travels faster in air which is less dense and in air with a higher temperature. Hence, more density and heat = faster speed of sound. The speed of sound can be calculated with the following formula:
V = F x λ
velocity = frequency x wavelength

The velocity is the speed and direction of the wave front, measured in m/s−1. The frequency is the number of wavelengths passing a particular point on one second, measured in Hz (cycles/second). The wavelength is the distance between two consecutive points (particles) with the same displacement. The speed of sound, when air temperature is 0˚C is 331.5 m/s−1. The following formula calculates the speed of sound in an approximate value:
speed of sound m/s−1 = 331.5 + 0.60 T(°C)
This experiment focuses on the speed of sound though air and looks at several variables affecting the speed of sound through medium. The results will be calculated by using the formula for speed:
speed = distance/time
A sound wave is shown in diagrammatic representations as transverse wave traces however, these are only models because they are actually longitudinal compression waves in character and can be classified as mechanical waves; meaning that the particles vibrate in the same direction as the direction of propagation.

The aim of this experiment is to determine the time taken for sound to travel in the air. I aim to ...

... middle of paper ...

...s us to clearly visualise a GPS in operation.

These satellites in orbit act in conjunction with a series of ground stations which are in constant 24hour communication with the satellites through radio transmissions. The radio communications inform the satellites on their exact position with respect to the surface of the Earth at any given time.
The signal spreads out from the satellites as a spherical wave. When the signal reaches the earth, it spreads out in a circle that increases in diameter with time. A GPS receiver picks up this signal and compares the time of arrival with its own clock. (Steven Holzner, 2006) Rather than each receiver requiring an expensive atomic clock, a fourth satellite supplies the receiver with the time signal for comparison. By knowing the speed of the signal and the delay in arrival time, the distance to the satellite is computed.

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