Acoustics 101- By Lewis Songer

Friday, February 20, 2015

Everyone knows what sound is, right?
Maybe not.  Sound to a dog could be beyond the hearing range of a normal human.  Some bird calls are also beyond the range of human perception.  For architects, chortling the acoustics of enclosed spaces like museums cathedrals or animal shelters means controlling the atmospheric pressure wave that is perceived by the people in the space.  Working with that definition lets us answer the age old riddle: “If a tree falls in a forest (say 100 miles from the nearest human) does it make a sound?”
The answer is of course, no! Find the person who heard it! No people, ergo no sound.  We can speculate that an atmospheric pressure wave was created and that a wild elk might have jumped.  But architectural acoustics is concerned about people and their reactions to pressure waves, not the reaction of an elk walking around Emerald Lake.