Why Sound Has Different Speeds in Different Media

By Nayeli Ramirez

Have you ever questioned why sound has different speeds in different media? First of all, speed is basically how fast an object is moving and the rate at which an object covers distance. Sound is a mechanical wave meaning that is due from the back and forth vibration of the particles of the medium in which the sound wave is moving.

Furthermore, the speed of sound is not always the same because it is different in every solid, liquid, and gas. In the three stages, sound waves travel faster in solids than in liquids, liquids faster than gases, and both faster than gases. In the stage of gases, the sound wave travels slower. If an object is thicker, it is most likely to be that sound would travel faster through it. If the molecules are closer to each other and have tighter bonds, the faster the sound would travel because it would take them a less amount of time for them to pass the sound to each other. Sound does travel more faster in solids than in liquids. In solids, they tend to travel faster because the molecules are closer and more tightly bonded. In a gas, it is really hard to pass through each other because the molecules are farther apart than in a liquid stage.

Moreover, in a solid, the sound waves have a different type of wave called shear wave. Shear waves travel at a different speed only in solids. The reason why the speed of sound is different in solids, liquids, and gases is because of the elastic properties. The speed of wave is affected by two properties which one of them is the elastic properties and the other density. Elastic properties are different for any other type of material. The reason for elastic properties is to keep the shape of the object or molecule when the force is being applied. In addition, density is another factor that affects the speed of sound. Density is the mass per unit volume.

In addition, the temperature of the environment also affects the speed of sound because sound is a form of kinetic energy. If the temperature is high then the molecules have more energy and can vibrate faster. Pressure affects the speed of sound too but that only happens in a gas factor. Since sound is a mechanical wave and cannot travel through vacuum then this means that a sound wave needs a material medium for its propagation.

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