Factors Affecting the Speed of Sound in a Medium

Topics: Temperature, Light, Energy Pages: 2 (715 words) Published: October 14, 2012
" Factors affecting the speed of sound in a medium"
Type of the medium- The speed of sound is not always the same. Remember that sound is a vibration of kinetic energy passed from molecule to molecule. The closer the molecules are to each other and the tighter their bonds, the less time it takes for them to pass the sound to each other and the faster sound can travel. It is easier for sound waves to go through solids than through liquids because the molecules are closer together and more tightly bonded in solids. Similarly, it is harder for sound to pass through gases than through liquids, because gaseous molecules are farther apart. The speed of sound is faster in solid materials and slower in liquids or gases. Elastic property- It relates to the tendency of a material to maintain its shape and not deform when a force is applied to it. At the particle level, a rigid material is characterized by atoms and/or molecules with strong forces of attraction for each other. These forces can be thought of as springs that control how quickly the particles return to their original positions. Particles that return to their resting position quickly are ready to move again more quickly, and thus they can vibrate at higher speeds. Therefore, sound can travel faster through mediums with higher elastic properties (like steel) than it can through solids like rubber, which have lower elastic properties. Density describes the mass of a substance per volume. A substance that is denser has more mass per volume. If a material is denser because its molecules are larger, it will transmit sound slower. Sound waves are made up of kinetic energy. It takes more energy to make large molecules vibrate than it does to make smaller molecules vibrate. Thus, sound will travel at a slower rate in the denser object if they have the same elastic properties. Temperature - Molecules at higher temperatures have more energy, thus they can vibrate faster. Since the molecules vibrate faster, sound waves...
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