editor’s note: This post was authored by Allen Burton, and edited by your intrepid blog author.
The Middletown Sound Seminar has had an enjoyable time exploring the nature of sound. We spent the first session looking at how sound waves are produced, the characteristics of those waves, and then we tried to determine the speed of sound using nothing more than a stopwatch. I think we were all surprised at how reasonably accurate our measured speed of sound was even though we just stood a long distance a part and timed with a stopwatch how long it took for us to hear the sound of two boards clapping together.
However, the highlight of our first session was the dancing goo. You’ll have to check out the video of this on the MVGS picture site (Dancing Goo). During our second session we focused on more precise methods for measuring the speed of sound using microphones, high speed logging software, and echoes. We also investigated the concept of overtones and standing waves. We used these concepts to get remarkably precise speed of sound measurements by changing the water level in long tubes until we achieved resonance. Check out this video on the picture site as well (Resonant Tubes – sorry the videos are sideways 😛 ).
We are looking forward to our next two sessions, where we will investigate the nature of string vibrations and determine why tightening a guitar string changes its pitch. We will finish the seminar with students bringing in musical instruments, and we will look at waveforms generated by different instruments as we explore various musical properties and instrument analysis. Keep an ear out for waves generated by this group of sonic students!