EDUCATION: Visualizing Acoustics

Science  31 Aug 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5535, pp. 1563a
DOI: 10.1126/science.293.5535.1563a

Why does a wooden baseball bat make a rich, satisfying “whack” when you hit the ball, while an aluminum bat gives off a wimpy “plink”? According to Acoustics and Vibration Animations, the solid wooden bat emits a range of frequencies of equal intensity, while the aluminum bat behaves like a hollow cylinder, its spectrum dominated by two high frequencies. Physics professor Dan Russell of Kettering University in Flint, Michigan, has loaded this site with easy-to-follow movies and illustrations that drive home basic concepts in acoustics and optics such as the Doppler effect, wave interference, and Fourier analysis. In the stills above, you're not looking at some rock star's abused instrument but the vibration of an electric guitar tapped with a small hammer, a student project included on the site.

www.kettering.edu/∼drussell/Demos.html

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