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Chapter: 11th Physics : Waves

Applications of reflection of sound waves

Stethoscope: It works on the principle of multiple reflections.

Applications of reflection of sound waves


(a) Stethoscope: It works on the principle of multiple reflections.

It consists of three main parts:

(i) Chest piece

(ii) Ear piece

(iii) Rubber tube

(i) Chest piece: It consists of a small disc-shaped resonator (diaphragm) which is very sensitive to sound and amplifies the sound it detects.

(ii) Ear piece: It is made up of metal tubes which are used to hear sounds detected by the chest piece.

(iii) Rubber tube: This tube connects both chest piece and ear piece. It is used to transmit the sound signal detected by the diaphragm, to the ear piece. The sound of heart beats (or lungs) or any sound produced by internal organs can be detected, and it reaches the ear piece through this tube by multiple reflections.


(b) Echo: An echo is a repetition of sound produced by the reflection of sound waves from a wall, mountain or other obstructing surfaces. The speed of sound in air at 20°C is 344 m s-1. If we shout at a wall which is at 344 m away, then the sound will take 1 second to reach the wall. After reflection, the sound will take one more second to reach us. Therefore, we hear the echo after two seconds.

Scientists have estimated that we can hear two sounds properly if the time gap or time interval between each sound is (1/10) th of a second (persistence of hearing) i.e., 0.1 s. Then,

The minimum distance from a sound reflecting wall to hear an echo at 20°C is 17.2 meter.


(c) SONAR: SOund NAvigation and Ranging. Sonar systems make use of reflections of sound waves in water to locate the position or motion of an object. Similarly, dolphins and bats use the sonar principle to find their way in the darkness.


(d) Reverberation: In a closed room the sound is repeatedly reflected from the walls and it is even heard long after the sound source ceases to function. The residual sound remaining in an enclosure and the phenomenon of multiple reflections of sound is called reverberation. The duration for which the sound persists is called reverberation time. It should be noted that the reverberation time greatly affects the quality of sound heard in a hall. Therefore, halls are constructed with some optimum reverberation time.


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