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Sound Waves

Explores waves emanating into a material from a vibrating object.

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Look Ma, No Hands!

Look Ma, No Hands!

Credit: ramos alejandro
Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mondi/7851879156/sizes
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Making objects levitate, or float unsupported in air, is an old magic trick. But it’s just a trick, right?

Amazing But True!

  • Actually, scientists have been able to levitate small objects for decades simply with sound waves.
  • How can something that you can’t see or feel levitate objects? Sound waves exert pressure on surfaces. The pressure is insignificant unless the sound is really loud. Then it can counter gravity.
  • Simply levitating objects with sound waves is an impressive feat, but it doesn’t have much real-world application. It would be much more useful—and really cool—to use sound waves to move objects around in the air without touching them.
  • Credit: Tess Watson
    Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tessawatson/427116315/
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    High pitch sounds create high frequency sound waves [Figure2]

  • In 2013, scientists figured out a way to do just that. Watch this video to learn more about moving objects with sound waves, as well as some other cool uses of the waves: http://news.discovery.com/tech/videos/dnews-tech-videos.htm

What do you think?

At the links below, learn more about ways to use sound waves. Then answer the following questions.

  1. Besides making music and hearing, what are some other uses of sound waves?
  2. How can you use sound waves to shatter a glass?
  3. To move objects with sound waves, scientists use standing waves. What are standing waves, and how are they created?
  4. Describe the device scientists created to move objects with sound waves.
  5. What do you think? What are some real-world applications of using sound waves to move objects?

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Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: ramos alejandro; Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mondi/7851879156/sizes; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: Tess Watson; Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/tessawatson/427116315/; License: CC BY-NC 3.0

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