Experimental methods

A range of different methods exist for the measurement of sound in air. The earliest reasonably accurate estimate of the speed of sound in air was made by William Derham, and acknowledged by Isaac Newton. Derham had a telescope at the top of the tower of the Church of St Laurence in Upminster, England. On a calm day, a synchronized pocket watch would be given to an assistant who would fire a shotgun at a pre-determined time from a conspicuous point some miles away, across the countryside. This could be confirmed by telescope. He then measured the interval between seeing gunsmoke and arrival of the noise using a half-second pendulum. The distance from where the gun was fired was found by triangulation, and simple division (time / distance) provided velocity. Lastly, by making many observations, using a range of different distances, the inaccuracy of the half-second pendulum could be averaged out, giving his final estimate of the speed of sound. Modern stopwatches enable this method to be used today over distances as short as 200–400 meters, and not needing something as loud as a shotgun. [edit]Single-shot timing methods The simplest concept is the measurement made using two microphones and a fast recording device such as a digital storage scope. This method uses the following idea. If a sound source and two microphones are arranged in a straight line, with the sound source at one end, then the following can be measured: 1. The distance between the microphones (x), called microphone basis. 2. The time of arrival between the signals (delay) reaching the different microphones (t) Then v = x / t [edit]Other methods In these methods the time m asurement has been replaced by a measurement of the inverse of time (frequency). Kundt's tube is an example of an experiment which can be used to measure the speed of sound in a small volume. It has the advantage of being able to measure the speed of sound in any gas. This method uses a powder to make the nodes and antinodes visible to the human eye. This is an example of a compact experimental setup. A tuning fork can be held near the mouth of a long pipe which is dipping into a barrel of water. In this system it is the case that the pipe can be brought to resonance if the length of the air column in the pipe is equal to ({1+2n}?/4) where n is an integer. As the antinodal point for the pipe at the open end is slightly outside the mouth of the pipe it is best to find two or more points of resonance and then measure half a wavelength between these. Here it is the case that v = f? A microphone (colloquially called a mic or mike; both pronounced /?ma?k/)[1] is an acoustic-to-electric transducer or sensor that converts sound into an electrical signal. Microphones are used in many applications such as telephones, tape recorders, karaoke systems, hearing aids, motion picture production, live and recorded audio engineering, FRS radios, megaphones, in radio and television broadcasting and in computers for recording voice, speech recognition, VoIP, and for non-acoustic purposes such as ultrasonic checking or knock sensors. Most microphones today use electromagnetic induction (dynamic microphone), capacitance change (condenser microphone), piezoelectric generation, or light modulation to produce an electrical voltage signal from mechanical vibration.