Q:

Can sound be refracted?

A:

All types of waves, including sound waves, can be refracted when they interact with a medium or move from one medium to another. One example of refraction of sound is when the sound of thunder is refracted upwards because of a change in air temperature, from cold to warm.

Sometimes, the sound of thunder is refracted upwards so dramatically that it creates a shadow zone. An observer standing in the shadow zone might be able to see the lightning but not hear the thunder, as the sound waves have been refracted. Similarly, sound can be refracted downwards because of variation in the surface temperature. Downwards refraction of sound is the reason people can sometimes hear conversations from across a lake.


Is this answer helpful?

Similar Questions

  • Q:

    What causes light refraction?

    A:

    Refraction is caused by light passing from one medium to another (from air to water, for example) and experiencing a change in speed. A fisherman looking into water to spear a fish will have to remember that refraction will distort the image he sees under the water's surface.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What causes echoes?

    A:

    An echo is caused when sound waves bounce off of a surface and travel back to the ears. Echoes commonly occur when loud sounds are emitted into an empty room or down a well. The echo occurs when sound is reflected off water in the well or walls in rooms.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    What is the reflection of sound?

    A:

    When sound waves strike a surface, they reflect off of that surface and can return to the source of the sound as an echo. To a listener, this may be identical to the original sound, just delayed and possibly distorted by its path through the air. If the echo arrives quickly enough, it may seem to be part of the original sound, forming a reverberation instead of an echo.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:
  • Q:

    How is an echo produced?

    A:

    Echoes are created by sound waves being reflected off of a large obstacle. Conditions have to be just right for the echo to be heard as a separate sound.

    Full Answer >
    Filed Under:

Explore