Seeing Sound

It’s not always easy to imagine how waves travel, but with this demonstration, you can see sound waves and how they reflect and defract. The set-up uses schlieren optics that show light and dark bands where strong changes in density take place. This, combined with a stroboscopic light, makes it possible to see the wave fronts from the acoustic transducer on the left side of the screen. Once the wave is apparent, introducing a reflective object lets us see exactly how sound waves bounce, reflect, and interfere. (Image and video credit: Harvard Natural Sciences Lecture Demonstrations)

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