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Science | Physical Science | Acoustics

Acoustics is the science of sound as it reacts to air, water and solid materials. Learn about topics from radar to white noise, plus find out why you can hear the ocean in a seashell.

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What is a decibel, and how is it measured?

The decibel scale measures sound based on human hearing, which makes it one of the most unusual scientific measurements. How are decibel calculated and what do they tell us about sound?


Can you really shatter a glass with a high note?

 Can you really shatter a glass with a high note?

You might have heard that high notes can shatter glass. But can you really shatter glass with sonic force in real life? Find out at HowStuffWorks. See more »

Can a sound wave kill you?

 Can a sound wave kill you?

Are sound waves one more thing that might kill you? And if so, how? Learn if sound waves can kill at HowStuffWorks. See more »

The Skinny on Sonic Booms

 The Skinny on Sonic Booms

A sonic boom occurs when a vessel breaks the speed of sound. So what is this infamous sonic boom, if not the shattering of the picture-window-in-the-sky? See more »

 How to Measure Sound Travel in the Air

Did you ever wonder how to measure how fast sound travels in the air? Read this article to learn how to measure sound travel in the air. See more »

How Tuning Forks Work

 How Tuning Forks Work

Tuning forks have been around for centuries and are the only sure-fire way to tell if an instrument is in tune. Learn how tuning forks work. See more »

 Overtone

Overtone, a sound accompanying the main tone produced by a vibrating body. The number and loudness of overtones determine the timbre, or tone color, of a musical sound. Overtones are present in the human voice and in the sound produced by musical ins ... See more »

 Resonance

Resonance, An object free to vibrate tends to do so at a specific rate called the object's natural, or resonant, frequency. (This frequency depends on the size, shape, and composition of the object.) Such an object will vibrate strongly when it is su ... See more »

 Tuning Fork

Tuning Fork, a small U-shaped piece of steel that, when struck, produces a clear tone of unvarying pitch. There is a handle on the curved part. The prongs of the fork vibrate alternately toward and away from each other. The pitch depends on the rate ... See more »

 Acoustics

Acoustics, the branch of physics that deals with the production, transmission, properties, and effects of sound waves. It includes the following areas of study:Architectural Acoustics is concerned with the behavior of sound waves in enclosed areas su ... See more »