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Author Topic: Is sound a physical thing?  (Read 913 times)

Offline thedoc

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Is sound a physical thing?
« on: 03/03/2016 14:50:02 »
Elizabeth Richardson asked the Naked Scientists:
   I would very much like to know if sound is physical or conceptual. Please inform me!
What do you think?
« Last Edit: 03/03/2016 14:50:02 by _system »


 

Offline evan_au

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Re: Is sound a physical thing?
« Reply #1 on: 03/03/2016 16:18:16 »
Quote from: Elizabeth Richardson
I would very much like to know if sound is physical or conceptual.
Sound is quite physical - it physically moves your eardrum.

When sound is intense, such as in an explosion or an earthquake, it can physically knock you off your feet.

But the meanings we attach to speech represent common concepts between speaker and listener. The concepts are modulated onto a physical medium (sound waves propagating through air). These same concepts can also be carried on other media, such as black marks on white paper, or the hand movements of sign language.

Just go to a country speaking an unknown language - the physical medium and the basic sounds are the same, but the way of representing the concepts is not shared between speaker and listener, so communication fails.

So the sounds of language can be simultaneously physical and conceptual.

One might say the same for the language of music, dance or art.
 

Offline Jay Jacobus

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Re: Is sound a physical thing?
« Reply #2 on: 03/03/2016 17:43:58 »
Sound waves are physical.  Sound is sensory.  Sound is created by activity in the brain.  The sense of sound is  caused by changes in state in the brain.  The changes in state are physical changes.  The actual form of sound perceived by a person is unknown but would seem to me to be physical as well.
   
 

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Re: Is sound a physical thing?
« Reply #2 on: 03/03/2016 17:43:58 »

 

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