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# How does temperature affect the speed of sound?

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Temperature affects the speed of sound by changing the density of the medium in which a sound wave travels. In most cases, when the temperature of a medium increases so does the speed of sound through that medium.

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Credit: Garry Knight CC-BY 2.0

Sound waves require a medium in order to travel. A medium can be a solid, liquid, or a gas such as air. The speed of sound depends on both the elasticity and density of the medium. When the elasticity increases and density decreases of a medium, sound is allowed to travel faster. Higher temperatures lower the density of a medium, which puts less resistance on the sound waves. For example, sounds travels 1,087 feet per second through air at a temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit. At a higher temperature of 68 F, the air density is significantly lower and sound is able to travel at 1,127 feet per second.

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## Related Questions

• A:

Although both sound and light are fast by human standards, light is far faster than sound because waves of sound must propagate through a medium, while the speed of light is tied to fundamental universal constants. Light travels at about 300,000 kilometers per second, and the speed of sound is usually around 300 meters per second.

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• A:

Amplitude affects the loudness of sound by using vibration to make the sound larger or smaller than it is in actuality. Amplitude is a factor which directly impacts the sound.

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The speed of a sound wave depends on what type of medium it is traveling through, and if that medium is a gas or liquid, a significant change in temperature can also affect its speed. In air, the speed at which sound travels is about 1 mile every 5 seconds at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, but the speed of a sound wave traveling through solid rock is about 18 miles every 5 seconds. Sound travels faster through a solid substance like rock because, unlike liquids or gases, the molecules in a solid are held close together.