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Reflection of Sound - Echo

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Echo:

  • 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 s.
  • To hear a distinct echo the time interval between the original sound and the reflected one must be  at least 0.1s. If we take the speed of sound to be 344 m/s at a given temperature, say at 22 ºC 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 rolling of thunder is due to the successive reflections of the sound from a number of reflecting surfaces, such as the clouds and the land.

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