The Physics of Sound in Air and Water

Sirpa Nummela and J. G. M. Thewissen

in Sensory Evolution on the Threshold

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2008 | ISBN: 9780520252783
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520934122 | DOI:
The Physics of Sound in Air and Water

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  • Zoology and Animal Sciences


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This chapter analyzes the physics of sound and hearing in water and air. It describes the different aspects of sound, the ability of air and water to transmit sounds, and the opportunities and challenges that living in the two media presents to the organism. It first discusses sound detection through sound frequency, wavelength, and amplitude. It then describes acoustic impedance, the intrinsic resistance of a substrate or of a mechanism against transmitting sounds. It also examines sound localization, the mechanism used to determine the direction of a sound source. Finally, it discusses bone conduction, a mechanism of audition significant in aquatic sound reception.

Keywords: sound; hearing; sound detection; acoustic impedance; sound localization; bone conduction; sound reception

Chapter.  3582 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences

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