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Animals like dolphins and bats make use of sounds waves to find their way. Just like ships on the ocean, bats use sonar to navigate. Ultrasound waves that are sent out are reflected off the objects around the animal. Bats, or dolphins, then use the reflected sounds to form a “picture” of their surroundings. This is called echolocation.

A ship sends a signal to the bottom of the ocean to determine the depth of the ocean. The speed of sound in sea water is 1450 m . s - 1 If the signal is received 1,5 seconds later, how deep is the ocean at that point?

  1. s = 1450 m . s - 1 t = 1 , 5 s there and back t = 0 , 75 s one way d = ?
  2. Distance = speed × time d = s × t = 1450 m . s - 1 × 0 , 75 s = 1087 , 5 m
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  1. Sound waves are longitudinal waves
  2. The frequency of a sound is an indication of how high or low the pitch of the sound is.
  3. The human ear can hear frequencies from 20 to 20 000 Hz. Infrasound waves have frequencies lower than 20 Hz. Ultrasound waves have frequencies higher than 20 000 Hz.
  4. The amplitude of a sound determines its loudness or volume.
  5. The tone is a measure of the quality of a sound wave.
  6. The speed of sound in air is around 340 m.s - 1 . It is dependent on the temperature, height above sea level and the phase of the medium through which it is travelling.
  7. Sound travels faster when the medium is hot.
  8. Sound travels faster in a solid than a liquid and faster in a liquid than in a gas.
  9. Sound travels faster at sea level where the air pressure is higher.
  10. The intensity of a sound is the energy transmitted over a certain area. Intensity is a measure of frequency.
  11. Ultrasound can be used to form pictures of things we cannot see, like unborn babies or tumors.
  12. Echolocation is used by animals such as dolphins and bats to “see” their surroundings by using ultrasound.
  13. Ships use sonar to determine how deep the ocean is or to locate shoals of fish.


  1. Choose a word from column B that best describes the concept in column A.
    Column A Column B
    pitch of sound amplitude
    loudness of sound frequency
    quality of sound speed
  2. A tuning fork, a violin string and a loudspeaker are producing sounds. This is because they are all in a state of:
    1. compression
    2. rarefaction
    3. rotation
    4. tension
    5. vibration
  3. What would a drummer do to make the sound of a drum give a note of lower pitch?
    1. hit the drum harder
    2. hit the drum less hard
    3. hit the drum near the edge
    4. loosen the drum skin
    5. tighten the drum skin
  4. What is the approximate range of audible frequencies for a healthy human?
    1. 0.2 Hz 200 Hz
    2. 2 Hz 2 000 Hz
    3. 20 Hz 20 000 Hz
    4. 200 Hz 200 000 Hz
    5. 2 000 Hz 2 000 000 Hz
  5. X and Y are different wave motions. In air, X travels much faster than Y but has a much shorter wavelength. Which types of wave motion could X and Y be?
    X Y
    A microwaves red light
    B radio infra red
    C red light sound
    D sound ultraviolet
    E ultraviolet radio
  6. Astronauts are in a spaceship orbiting the moon. They see an explosion on the surface of the moon. Why can they not hear the explosion?
    1. explosions do not occur in space
    2. sound cannot travel through a vacuum
    3. sound is reflected away from the spaceship
    4. sound travels too quickly in space to affect the ear drum
    5. the spaceship would be moving at a supersonic speed
  7. A man stands between two cliffs as shown in the diagram and claps his hands once.
    Assuming that the velocity of sound is 330 m.s - 1 , what will be the time interval between the two loudest echoes?
    1. 1 6 s
    2. 5 6 s
    3. 1 3 s
    4. 1 s
    5. 2 3 s
  8. A dolphin emits an ultrasonic wave with frequency of 0,15 MHz. The speed of the ultrasonic wave in water is 1 500 m.s - 1 . What is the wavelength of this wave in water?
    1. 0.1 mm
    2. 1 cm
    3. 10 cm
    4. 10 m
    5. 100 m
  9. The amplitude and frequency of a sound wave are both increased. How are the loudness and pitch of the sound affected?
    loudness pitch
    A increased raised
    B increased unchanged
    C increased lowered
    D decreased raised
    E decreased lowered
  10. A jet fighter travels slower than the speed of sound. Its speed is said to be:
    1. Mach 1
    2. supersonic
    3. isosonic
    4. hypersonic
    5. infrasonic
  11. A sound wave is different from a light wave in that a sound wave is:
    1. produced by a vibrating object and a light wave is not.
    2. not capable of travelling through a vacuum.
    3. not capable of diffracting and a light wave is.
    4. capable of existing with a variety of frequencies and a light wave has a single frequency.
  12. At the same temperature, sound waves have the fastest speed in:
    1. rock
    2. milk
    3. oxygen
    4. sand
  13. Two sound waves are traveling through a container of nitrogen gas. The first wave has a wavelength of 1,5 m, while the second wave has a wavelength of 4,5 m. The velocity of the second wave must be:
    1. 1 9 the velocity of the first wave.
    2. 1 3 the velocity of the first wave.
    3. the same as the velocity of the first wave.
    4. three times larger than the velocity of the first wave.
    5. nine times larger than the velocity of the first wave.
  14. Sound travels at a speed of 340 m · s - 1 . A straw is 0,25 m long. The standing wave set up in such a straw with one end closed has a wavelength of 1,0 m. The standing wave set up in such a straw with both ends open has a wavelength of 0,50 m.
    1. calculate the frequency of the sound created when you blow across the straw with the bottom end closed.
    2. calculate the frequency of the sound created when you blow across the straw with the bottom end open.
  15. A lightning storm creates both lightning and thunder. You see the lightning almost immediately since light travels at 3 × 10 8 m · s - 1 . After seeing the lightning, you count 5 s and then you hear the thunder. Calculate the distance to the location of the storm.
  16. A person is yelling from a second story window to another person standing at the garden gate, 50 m away. If the speed of sound is 344 m · s - 1 , how long does it take the sound to reach the person standing at the gate?
  17. A piece of equipment has a warning label on it that says, "Caution! This instrument produces 140 decibels." What safety precaution should you take before you turn on the instrument?
  18. What property of sound is a measure of the amount of energy carried by a sound wave?
  19. How is intensity related to loudness?
  20. Person 1 speaks to person 2. Explain how the sound is created by person 1 and how it is possible for person 2 to hear the conversation.
  21. Sound cannot travel in space. Discuss what other modes of communication astronauts can use when they are outside the space shuttle?
  22. An automatic focus camera uses an ultrasonic sound wave to focus on objects. The camera sends out sound waves which are reflected off distant objects and return to the camera. A sensor detects the time it takes for the waves to return and then determines the distance an object is from the camera. If a sound wave (speed = 344 m · s - 1 ) returns to the camera 0,150 s after leaving the camera, how far away is the object?
  23. Calculate the frequency (in Hz) and wavelength of the annoying sound made by a mosquito when it beats its wings at the average rate of 600 wing beats per second. Assume the speed of the sound waves is 344 m · s - 1 .
  24. How does halving the frequency of a wave source affect the speed of the waves?
  25. Humans can detect frequencies as high as 20 000 Hz. Assuming the speed of sound in air is 344 m · s - 1 , calculate the wavelength of the sound corresponding to the upper range of audible hearing.
  26. An elephant trumpets at 10 Hz. Assuming the speed of sound in air is 344 m · s - 1 , calculate the wavelength of this infrasonic sound wave made by the elephant.
  27. A ship sends a signal out to determine the depth of the ocean. The signal returns 2,5 seconds later. If sound travels at 1450 m.s - 1 in sea water, how deep is the ocean at that point?

Questions & Answers

how do you calculate the angle of incidence ?
Thabisa Reply
what happen when a ray light of energy is converted into another form of energy
Hansromy Reply
how do you run the demo?
Lauren Reply
what is a covalent bond
Mbuso Reply
what angle does atoms bond at when it is a trigonal planar shape
Olebogeng Reply
what is the graph of acceleration vs force?
Kgothatso Reply
investigate the relationship between force and acceleration
Hlumelo Reply
Aim : investigate the relationship between force and acceleration
The relationship between force and direction is directly proportional, which means that when force increases acceleration increases and if it decreases so does acceleration
Law of Acceleration - The acceleration of an object is directly proportional to the force acting on it and inversely proportional to the mass of the object.
how to calculate frictional force
Esesethu Reply
frictional force =to the parallel component of weight Fgsin
What are the effects of Intermolecular forces
Mpho Reply
what is meant by the term induced momentary dipole
Lucky Reply
induced means forced so in this type of a intermolecular force a dipole is forced
What is the difference between acceleration and force
Fanini Reply
what is the definition of bond length
Mmabophelo Reply
Bond length is the average distance between the nuclei of 2 bonded atoms
ask would you calculate coefficient
Ashley Reply
can a bond be polar and the molecule be a non polar?
Siyanda Reply
why 2 H atom form H2 molecule
Linah Reply
because the bonds are non polar and these atoms attract each other because of same electronegativity 🙂

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Source:  OpenStax, Siyavula textbooks: grade 11 physical science. OpenStax CNX. Jul 29, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11241/1.2
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