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Is sound Energy or a force?

  1. Jun 18, 2003 #1
    Dear reader,

    Is sound Energy or a force? I am confused.:smile:
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 18, 2003 #2
    Sound itself is a wave.
    Actually, it is a wave that needs a medium to go through (unlike Electromagnetic waves).
    Now the wave itself carries energy, since the wave is movement of the atoms/molecules making up the medium.
    And when one atom moves the one next to it, you have a force (normally, the transportation of energy involves forces between the objects/atoms/molecules/particles in which the energy is moving).
  4. Jun 18, 2003 #3
    Sound is a mechanical wave; therefore, its fundmental unit is a phonon. Phonons like photons are a form of energy. Sound is energy.

  5. Jun 18, 2003 #4
    yeah but is sound energy (like how light is energy)?

    how are sound and light waves different? what makes 'em different?
  6. Jun 18, 2003 #5
    Sound requires a mechanical medium. It is a wave packet of energy in the form of physically displaced medium. In other words it requires something to vibrate. Without a medium, like air or metal or some other material, sound does not exist.

    Light requires no medium. It is a wave packet of energy in the form of oscillating electric and magnetic field.

  7. Jun 18, 2003 #6


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    Sound is basically a way in which kinetic energy is transmitted by compressional waves. It isn't "energy" exactly, but rather a transfer of energy. It is generally thought that EVERYTHING contains energy. Perhaps even empty space is filled with energy.

    Light is composed of photons, which are wavepackets. This is a case of a transverse wave of force fields propagating each other, rather than "things" moving and vibrating. Hence it's generally apt to consider photons as quanta of pure energy.
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