What Does Sound Look Like?

Before I show you what sound looks like, I want you to understand what sound is. In the Oxford Dictionary, sound is defined as:

“vibrations that travel through the air or another medium and can be heard when they reach a person’s or animal’s ear”

We are able to sense vibrations, these vibrations are all around us, from a beat of a drum to dropping a book on a table. These are all vibrations, vibrations can cause disturbances that move away from the source in a form of waves. Sound waves travel through the air and are a result of pressure variations from different points. Waves can be considered to be the motion of a disturbance.

The sense of hearing is very important to us humans throughout our daily lives, without sound we would not be able to communicate by speech, listen to music, or be aware of our surroundings. Since, sound is very important to us we must understand the properties of sound.  Sound waves have three different categories that cover the different ranges of frequencies.

Audible sound waves are in the range of sensitivity of the human ear (20Hz to 20 kHz).

Infrasonic waves have frequencies below the audible range (ex. earthquake waves).

Ultrasonic wave have frequencies above the audible range for humans (ex. ultrasound imaging device).

Scientists have figured out experimentally that the speed of sound through air depends on the density of the air and the temperature. The value would be increased by 0.606m/s for every increase in temperature by 1ºC.

v = 331.4m/s + (0.606m/s/ºC)

Now that I have told you some general facts about sound, I will show you what sound looks like! If you watch this video you will be able to see sound.

It is important to know that even though sound is an amazing thing that exist in our daily lives, we can also hurt our eardrums and the ability to hear as a healthy human being. Any sound levels that are greater than 100dB that goes on for more than a few minutes will harm your hearing. You must realise that the louder a sound is, the less time you should be spending near whatever it is, to ensure that you do not damage your hearing. If you work in an environment that is always very loud, be sure to wear hearing protection or equipment that will protect you from hearing damage.


These are the values on how long you should be exposed to each dB of sound. It is evident that the times dramatically lower, as sound becomes louder. Credits : Nelson Physics 11 p. 396

The gift of hearing and sound is great, be sure to protect your hearing at all times!


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