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'speed' of sound vs. 'feel' of sound? (e.g. subwoofer, tree falling, etc.)

  1. Mar 21, 2012 #1
    'speed' of sound vs. 'feel' of sound??? (e.g. subwoofer, tree falling, etc.)

    When bass plays from a subwoofer, a tree falls, a bomb explodes or something similar there's a very real physical sensation that accompanies the sound. My mind is most curious to know if these travel at the exact same speed (being the same 'force' hitting two different sensory receptors) or if one travels quicker than the other (being two different 'forces'). Any thoughts?

    p.s. if the answer is completely obvious, sorry!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 21, 2012 #2
    Re: 'speed' of sound vs. 'feel' of sound??? (e.g. subwoofer, tree falling, etc.)

    The force you feel is the pressure wave...and these change in pressure waves are also how we perceive sound they are the same thing. So the only delay between the two if any is the time it took you're brain to process the two different sensations which is impossibly small to measure anyway :P Unless a biologist knowledged on the brain's sensory system knows the answer.

    But they arrive at same time. As they are the same thing.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2012
  4. Mar 21, 2012 #3

    DaveC426913

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    Re: 'speed' of sound vs. 'feel' of sound??? (e.g. subwoofer, tree falling, etc.)

    Well, those bass sounds with high amplitude, you could certainly feel on your clothes, skin and your bodily hair. I'm not aware of any reason why they would travel faster.
     
  5. Mar 21, 2012 #4

    DaveC426913

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    Re: 'speed' of sound vs. 'feel' of sound??? (e.g. subwoofer, tree falling, etc.)

    Actually - that's an excellent point. Thanks for making me correct myself.

    The brain is quite capable of perceiving this delay. In fact, smaller. We are able to echo locate in part by sensing the difference in arrival of signals between our ears - only 6 inches apart.

    (Anyone who swims knows that it is not possible (for a human) to echo locate underwater. An overhead boat makes a sounds seems to be coming from everywhere. This is because the speed of sound underwater is so much faster than air that our brains cannot perceive any discrepancy in arrival time.)

    So yeah, a pressure wave would certainly in principle arrive with enough delay to be sensed separately.
     
  6. Mar 21, 2012 #5
    Re: 'speed' of sound vs. 'feel' of sound??? (e.g. subwoofer, tree falling, etc.)

    interesting, thanks for the quick responses!
     
  7. Mar 21, 2012 #6

    DaveC426913

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    Re: 'speed' of sound vs. 'feel' of sound??? (e.g. subwoofer, tree falling, etc.)

    Caveat: that is not to say it is true.

    All the stuff about echo location in water and air is true, but that does not make the conclusion true; it only makes the conclusion plausible.
     
  8. Mar 22, 2012 #7

    Ryan_m_b

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    Re: 'speed' of sound vs. 'feel' of sound??? (e.g. subwoofer, tree falling, etc.)

    IMO there are 5 things to consider here:

    -The speed of sound in air
    -The speed of sound in your body (i.e how much faster when it reaches the skin)
    -The speed at which pressure sensing nerve cells are activated
    -The speed of a signal through the nervous system (~120m/s)
    -The time it takes for the brain to process the input
     
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