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Speed of Sound in Air

Extracts from this document...


Andrew Hutchesson – Speed of Sound


        Raw Data:


First Harmonic (mm) [±0.5mm]

Third Harmonic (mm) [±0.5mm]














512 Hertz

                Ambient Temperature

25° Celsius ± 0.5°

Processed Data:

Average uncertainty

First Harmonic

                (Max – Min) / 2 = (140 – 139) / 2 = 0.5

:. Average uncertainty is ±0.5 mm

        Third Harmonic

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        :. λ = 547.4 ± 3mm

Speed of Wave

vr = λ f

 :. vr = 0.5474 * 512

         :. vr =280.2688 m/s-1  ± 0.003 m/s-1

Literary Value for Speed of Sound

vl = 331 + (25 * 0.6)

        :. vl = 331 + 15

:. vl = 346 m/s-1

Discussion and Analysis

  1. The experimental speed of sound was 280.2688m/s-1 ± 0.003 m/s
  2.  % Difference = (346 - 280.2688) / 346 * 100

  = 65.7312 / 346 * 100

  = 0.18997456647398843930635838150289 * 100

  = 18.997456647398843930635838150289

        :. % Difference ≈ 19.0 %

        :. vr = 280.2688  m/s-1 ± 19%


        The investigation provided some interesting results. The experimental speed of sound was found to be 280.2688 ± 0.003 m/s-1, while the literature value was found to be much higher at 346 m/s-1. Thisis a percentage difference of 19%, or a real difference of 65.7312 m/s-1. However, although a large amount of error was involved, the practical succeeded in its aims of determining an experimental speed of sound, even if it was severely inaccurate.


        The data obtained was very unreliable. This can be shown by the extremely high level of percentage error. In order to determine when the 1

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        Modifications to improve the practical could be to test several different frequencies to attempt to determine a correlation between frequency and wavelength. Another modification could be to attempt to determine more than just the 1st and 3rd harmonics, in order to gain more accuracy in the wavelength measurement. However, in order to achieve this, a far smaller frequency should be used (as well as lower frequencies), which may prove hard to hear if the practical was conducted with the same apparatus as this one was.

Report        -  -        4/8/2009

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