Cacophony Acoustics Additional Information

Recommended Web sites:

To learn more about research by Mark Bee and his colleagues, check out the online magazine Search + Discover at (University of Minnesota).

Will we ever speak to dolphins? Read Dr. Bee’s answer, and more, at (University of Minnesota).

To learn how noise pollution can affect learning in the classroom, read

(Family Education Network).

Mathematicians have been studying the cocktail party problem, just as biologists have; read about their research at

Jaffe, Eric. 2006. Not slippery when wet. Science News for Kids (June 14). Available at

Sohn, Emily. 2006. Ultrasonic frogs raise the pitch. Science News for Kids (March 22). Available at

Books recommended by SearchIt!Science:

[book] Ears (You and Your Body Series)— Douglas Mathers

Published by Troll Communications, 1992.

Although we can’t see it, sound moves through the air in waves. When these waves reach the inner parts of our ears, they produce vibrations that send signals to the brain, which are recognized as sound. This book explains how our ears give us a sense of balance and tell us which way is up and which way is down. Packed with color illustrations, photographs, and easy-to-do experiments, it compares our hearing to that of other animals and explores what happens when something goes wrong. A glossary and an index are included.

[book] Sound Science— Etta Kaner

Published by Addison-Wesley Publishing Co., 1991.

Beethoven composed some of his music listening with his teeth! After he became deaf, the famous musician held one end of a wooden stick in his mouth and one end against the piano strings. When he played a note, a vibration traveled through the stick to his teeth, and he could tell what note he was playing. With the hands-on activities in this book, you can explore sound and the vibrations it makes. Play sound charades, grow plants with sound, and make your own telegraph with items you can easily find around your home. Explore such concepts as how sound travels, how pitch changes, and how animals use sound. Black-and-white cartoons show how each of the projects works. There are puzzles, games, and riddles, too. A glossary and an index are included.

[book] Sound: A Creative, Hands-On Approach to Science— Wendy Baker

Published by Macmillan Publishing Co., 1993.

We hear sounds every day, but have you ever seen sound? Sounds travel in waves—vibrations that can actually be seen under special conditions. Explore the vibrations we know as sound with 18 experiments, activities, and projects. Begin by making your own sound waves and a model of the ear. Observe the way sound can be reflected, amplified, and recorded. You can construct your own game to show how a bat’s amazing sense of sound helps it hunt for food and fly at night. There are instructions for making music by building pipes, drums, rattles, and string instruments. Each of the activities is illustrated with brilliant color photographs that show kids performing some of the steps. A list of the materials needed and some variations on the original project accompany each activity. A glossary is also included along with an index.

Return to article

Power Words

acoustics The scientific study of sounds and how it travels.

infrared light Electromagnetic radiation that is invisible and has wavelengths that are longer than those of visible light but shorter than those of microwaves. All objects absorb and give off infrared light.

sound A type of energy that travels as waves and can often be detected by the ears. Sound starts out as a vibration of something, such as a guitar string. The vibration causes sound waves to move through another substance, such as air, water, or a piece of wood. Sound waves move through air at a speed of about 1,070 feet (326 meters) per second.

Copyright © 2002, 2003 Houghton-Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Return to article