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SOUND

  • Sound is a form of energy and like all other energies, sound is not visible to us. It produces a sensation of hearing when it reaches our ears. Sound can not travel through vacuum.
  • Sound is produced due to vibration of different objects. The matter or substance through which sound is transmitted is called a medium. It can be solid, liquid or gas. Sound moves through a medium from the point of generation to the listener.
  • In longitudinal wave the individual particles of the medium move in a direction parallel to the direction of propagation of the disturbance. The particles do not move from one place  to another but they simply oscillate back and forth about their position of rest. This is exactly how a sound wave propagates, hence sound waves are longitudinal waves. Sound travels as successive compressions and rarefactions in the medium. In sound propagation, it is the energy of the sound that travels and not the particles of the medium.
  • There is also another type of wave, called a transverse wave. In a transverse wave particles do not oscillate along the line of wave propagation but oscillate up and down about their mean position as the wave travels. Thus a transverse wave is the one in which the individual particles of the medium move about their mean positions in a direction perpendicular to the direction of wave propagation. Light is a transverse wave but for light, the oscillations are not of the medium particles or their pressure or density – it is not a mechanical wave.
  • To and fro motion of an object is known as vibration. This motion is also called oscillatory motion.
  • Amplitude and frequency are two important properties of any sound.
  • The loudness or softness of a sound is determined basically by its amplitude. The amplitude of the sound wave depends upon the force with which an object is made to vibrate.
  • The change in density from one maximum value to the minimum value and again to the maximum value makes one complete oscillation.
  • The distance between two consecutive compressions or two consecutive rarefaction is called the wavelength, ë.
  • The time taken by the wave for one complete oscillation of the density or pressure of the medium is called the time period, T.
  • The number of complete oscillations per unit time is called the frequency (í), í =(1/T). The frequency is expressed in hertz (Hz). 
  • Larger the amplitude of vibration, louder is the sound. Higher the frequency of vibration, the higher is the pitch, and shriller is the sound.

The frequency determines the shrillness or pitch of a sound. If the frequency of vibration is higher, we say that the sound is shrill and has a higher pitch. If the frequency of vibration is lower, we say that the sound has a lower pitch.

A sound of single frequency is called a tone whereas a sound of multiple frequencies is called a note. Of the several frequencies present in a note, the sound of the lowest frequency is called the fundamental tone. Besides the fundamental, other tones present in a note are known as overtones. Of the overtones, those which have their frequencies simple multiple of fundamental frequency, are known as harmonics. All harmonics are overtone but all overtones are not harmonics.

  • Sound propagates through a medium at a finite speed. The speed of sound depends on the properties of the medium through which it travels. The speed of sound in a medium depends also on temperature and pressure of the medium. The speed of sound decreases when we go from solid to gaseous state. In any medium as we increase the temperature the speed of  sound increases. Experiment shows that the velocity of sound in air at 00C is about 332 metres per second.
  • The velocity of sound through a gas is inversely proportional to the square root of the density of the gas.
  • The law of reflection of sound states that the directions in which the sound is incident and reflected make equal angles with the normal to the reflecting surface and the three lie in the same plane.
  • If we shout or clap near a suitable reflecting object such as a tall building or a mountain, we will hear the same sound again a little later. This sound which we hear is called an echo. The sensation of sound persists in our brain for about 0.1 second. To hear a distinct echo, the time interval between the original sound and the reflected one must be at least 0.1 second. If we take the speed of sound to be 344 m/s at a given temperature, say at 22 0C in air, the sound must go to the obstacle and reach back the ear of the listener on reflection after 0.1s. Hence, the total distance covered by the sound from the point of generation to the reflecting surface and back should be at least (344 m/s) × 0.1 s = 34.4 m. Thus, for hearing distinct echoes, the minimum distance of the obstacle from the source of sound must be half of this distance, that is, 17.2 m. This distance will change with the temperature of air. Echoes may be heard more than once due to successive or multiple reflections.
  • The phenomenon of prolongation of sound due to successive reflections of sound from surrounding objects is called reverberation.
  • Stethoscope is a medical instrument used for listening to sounds produced within the body, chiefly in the heart or lungs. In stethoscopes the sound of the patient’s heartbeat reaches the doctor’s ears by multiple reflection of sound.
  • The audible range of sound for human beings extends from about 20 Hz to 20000 Hz (one Hz = one cycle/s). Children under the age of five and some animals, such as dogs can hear up to 25 kHz (1 kHz = 1000 Hz).
  • Sounds of frequencies below 20 Hz are called infrasonic sound or infrasound. Rhinoceroses communicate using infrasound of frequency as low as 5 Hz. Whales and elephants produce sound in the infrasound range. It is observed that some animals get disturbed before earthquakes. Earthquakes produce low-frequency infrasound before the main shock waves begin which possibly alert the animals.
  • Frequencies higher than 20 kHz are called ultrasonic sound or ultrasound. Ultrasound is produced by dolphins, bats and porpoises.
  • Ultrasounds can be used to detect cracks and flaws in metal blocks. Metallic components are generally used in construction of big structures like buildings, bridges, machines and also scientific equipment. The cracks or holes inside the metal blocks, which are invisible from outside reduces the strength of the structure. Ultrasonic waves are allowed to pass through the metal block and detectors are used to detect the transmitted waves. If there is even a small defect, the ultrasound gets reflected back indicating the presence of the flaw or defect.
  • Ultrasonic waves are made to reflect from various parts of the heart and form the image of the heart. This technique is called ‘echocardiography’.
  • Ultrasound scanner is an instrument which uses ultrasonic waves for getting images of internal organs of the human body. A doctor may image the patient’s organs such as the liver, gall bladder, uterus, kidney, etc. It helps the doctor to detect abnormalities, such as stones in the gall bladder and kidney or tumours in different organs. In this technique the ultrasonic waves travel through the tissues of the body and get reflected from a region where there is a change of tissue density. These waves are then converted into electrical signals that are used to generate images of the organ. These images are then displayed on a monitor or printed on a film. This technique is called ‘ultrasonography’.
  • The acronym SONAR stands for Sound Navigation And Ranging. Sonar is a device that uses ultrasonic waves to measure the distance, direction and speed of underwater objects. Sonar consists of a transmitter and a detector and is installed in a boat or a ship. The transmitter produces and transmits ultrasonic waves. These waves travel through water and after striking the object on the seabed, get reflected back and are sensed by the detector. The detector converts the ultrasonic waves into electrical signals which are appropriately interpreted. The distance of the object that reflected the sound wave can be calculated by knowing the speed of sound in water and the time interval between transmission and reception of the ultrasound. Let the time interval between transmission and reception of ultrasound signal be t and the speed of sound through seawater be v. The total distance, 2d travelled by the ultrasound is then, 2d = v × t. The above method is called echo ranging. The sonar technique is used to determine the depth of the sea and to locate underwater hills, valleys, submarine, icebergs, sunken ship etc.
  • Again if the speed of any substance, specially of an air-craft, be more than the speed of sound in air, then the speed of the substance is called supersonic speed. The ratio of the speed of a body and that of sound in air is, however, called the Mach number of the body. If the Mach number of a body is more than 1 , it is clear that the body has supersonic speed.
UNITS AND MEASUREMENT

i. Physics is a quantitative science, based on measurement of physical quantities. Certain physical quantities have been chosen as fundamental or base quantities (such as length, mass, time, electric current, thermodynamic temperature, amount of substance, and luminous intensity).

ii. Each base quantity is defined in terms of a certain basic, arbitrarily chosen but properly standardised reference standard called unit (such as metre, kilogram, second, ampere, kelvin, mole and candela). The units for the fundamental or base quantities are called fundamental or base units.

iii. Other physical quantities, derived from the base quantities, can be expressed as a combination of the base units and are called derived units. A complete set  of units, both fundamental and derived, is called a system of units.

iv. The International System of Units (SI) based on seven base units is at present internationally accepted unit system and is widely used throughout the world. The SI units are used in all physical measurements, for both the base quantities and the derived quantities obtained from them. Certain derived units are expressed by means of SI units with special names (such as joule, newton, watt, etc).

v. The SI units have well defined and internationally accepted unit symbols (such as m for metre, kg for kilogram, s for second, A for ampere, N for newton etc.). Physical measurements are usually expressed for small and large quantities in scientific notation, with powers of 10. Scientific notation and the prefixes are used to simplify measurement notation and numerical computation, giving indication to the precision of the numbers.

vi. Unit of Length: The SI Unit of length is metre(m). Various other metric units used for measuring length are related to the metre by either multiples or submultiples of 10. Thus,

  • 1 kilo metre = 1000 ( or 103) m
  • 1 centi metre= 1/100 ( or 0-2) m
  • 1 mili metre=1/1000 ( or 10-3) m

Very small distance are measured in micrometre or microns (μm), angstroms(Å), nanometre (nm) and femtometre (fm).

  • 1m = 106 μm
  • 1m = 109 nm
  • 1m =1010 Å
  • 1m = 1015 fm

For really large distances, the light year is the unit of choice. A light year is the distance light would travel in a vacuum after one year. It is equal to some nine quadrillion meters (six trillion miles). 1 light year = 9.46 × 1015m.

vii. Unit of Mass: The SI Unit of mass is kilogram(kg). Various other metric units used for measuring mass are related to the kilogram by either multiples or submultiples of 10. Thus,

  • 1 tonne(t) = 1000 ( or 103) kg
  • 1 gram(g) = 1/1000 ( or 0-32) kg
  • 1 miligram(mg) = 10-6Kg

viii. Unit of Time: The SI unit of time is the second (s).

SI Base Quantities and Units:

NCERT Summary: Summary of Physics- 4 UPSC Notes | EduRev

Important Units of Measurement:

NCERT Summary: Summary of Physics- 4 UPSC Notes | EduRev


  • A nautical mile is now 1852 m (6080 feet), but was originally defined as one minute of arc of a great circle, or 1/60 of 1/360 of the earth’s circumference. Every sixty nautical miles is then one degree of latitude anywhere on earth or one degree of longitude on the equator. This was considered a reasonable unit for use in navigation, which is why this mile is called the nautical mile. The ordinary mile is more precisely known as the statute mile; that is, the mile as defined by statute or law. Use of the nautical mile persists today in shipping, aviation, and aerospace.
  • Distances in near outer space are sometimes compared to the radius of the earth: 6.4 × 106 m. Some examples: the planet Mars has ½ the radius of the earth, the size of a geosynchronous orbit is 6.5 earth radii, and the earth-moon separation is about 60 earth radii.
  • The mean distance from the earth to the sun is called an astronomical unit: approximately 1.5 × 1011m. The distance from the Sun to Mars is 1.5 AU; from the Sun to Jupiter, 5.2 AU; and from the Sun to Pluto, 40 AU. The star nearest the Sun, Proxima Centauri, is about 270,000 AU away.
WAVES

WAVES: There are three types of waves:

1. Mechanical waves require a material medium to travel (air, water, ropes).
These waves are divided into three different types.

(i) Transverse waves cause the medium to move perpendicular to the direction of the wave.
(ii) Longitudinal waves cause the medium to move parallel to the direction of the wave.
(iii) Surface waves are both transverse waves and longitudinal waves mixed in one medium.

2. Electromagnetic waves do not require a medium to travel (light, radio).
3. Matter waves are produced by electrons and particles.

  • A point of maximum positive displacement in a wave, is called crest, and a point of maximum negative displacement is called trough.
  • Measuring Waves: Any point on a transverse wave moves up and down in a repeating pattern. The shortest time that a point takes to return to the initial position (one vibration) is called period, T.
  • The number of vibrations per second is called frequency and is measured in hertz (Hz). Here’s the equation for frequency: f = 1 / T.
  • The shortest distance between peaks, the highest points, and troughs, the lowest points, is the wavelength, λ.
  • By knowing the frequency of a wave and its wavelength, we can find its speed. Here is the equation for the velocity of a wave: v = λ f.
  • However, the velocity of a wave is only affected by the properties of the medium. It is not possible to increase the speed of a wave by increasing its  wavelength. By doing this, the number of vibrations per second decreases and therefore the velocity remains the same.
  • The amplitude of a wave is the distance from a crest to where the wave is at equilibrium. The amplitude is used to measure the energy transferred by the wave. The bigger the distance, the greater the energy transferred.
WORK, POWER AND ENERGY
  • When a force acting on a body produces a change in the position of the body, work is said to be done by the force. Work done on an object is defined as the magnitude of the force multiplied by the distance moved by the object in the direction of the applied force. The unit of work is joule: 1 joule = 1 newton × 1 metre. Work done on an object by a force would be zero if the displacement of the object is zero.
  • Power is defined as the rate of doing work. Power = (work done) / (time taken). The SI unit of power is watt. 1 W = 1 Joule/second. The unit of power is also horse power. It is the power of an agent which can work at the rate of 550 foot pounds per second or 33,000 foot pounds pwe minute.
  • An object having capability to do work is said to possess energy. Energy has the same unit as that of work.
  • An object in motion possesses what is known as the kinetic energy of the object. An object of mass, m moving with velocity v has a kinetic energy of (1/2) mv2.
  • The energy possessed by a body due to its change in position or shape is called the potential energy. The gravitational potential energy of an object of mass, m raised through a height, h from the earth’s surface is given by mgh.
  • According to the law of conservation of energy, energy can only be transformed from one form to another; it can neither be created nor destroyed. The total energy before and after the transformation always remains constant.
  • Energy exists in nature in several forms such as kinetic energy, potential energy, heat energy, chemical energy etc. The sum of the kinetic and potential energies of an object is called its mechanical energy.
  • Pressure: Pressure is defined as force acting per unit area. Pressure = force/ area. The SI unit of pressure is newton per meter squared or Pascal.
  • The same force acting on a smaller area exerts a larger pressure, and a smaller pressure on a larger area. This is the reason why a nail has a pointed tip, knives have sharp edges and buildings have wide foundations.
  • All liquids and gases are fluids. A solid exerts pressure on a surface due to its weight. Similarly, fluids have weight, and they also exert pressure on the base and walls of the container in which they are enclosed. Pressure exerted in any confined mass of fluid is transmitted undiminished in all directions.
  • All objects experience a force of buoyancy when they are immersed in a fluid. Objects having density less than that of the liquid in which they are immersed, float on the surface of the liquid. If the density of the object is more than the density of the liquid in which it is immersed then it sinks in the liquid.
  • Archimedes’ Principle: When a body is immersed fully or partially in a fluid, it experiences an upward force that is equal to the weight of the fluid displaced by it.
  • Archimedes’ principle has many applications. It is used in designing ships and submarines. Lactometers, which are used to determine the purity of a sample of milk and hydrometers used for determining density of liquids, are based on this principle.
  • Density and Relative Density: The mass per unit volume of a substance is called its density. The SI unit of density is kilogram per meter cubed. Density= mass/volume.
  • The relative density of a substance is the ratio of its density to that of water: Relative density = Density of a substance/Density of water. Since the relative density is a ratio of similar.
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