The Philharmonie de Paris, built at a cost of nearly $500 million, with a total capacity of 2,500 and scheduled to open in early 2015 is a prime example of how seriously humans are about sound an essential aspect of the human psyche.
The image below was created by Maxell, Inc. in 1980, the age of the “cassette tape” and powerful speakers, showing a listener being “blown away” by oscillating waves of air pressure. As we all know from swimming, sound can be transmitted through other mediums: gases, liquids and solids.
But the study of architectural acoustics or sound is anything but simple: it is the domain of mathematicians and physicists. The wave theory of sound, pressure-density relations, acoustic energy, spherical waves, multi-layer transmission and reflection are just a few of the concepts in the field. And as we saw in “Insanity Or Innovation? The World’s Quietest Place” sound is all important in helping humans orient themselves to time, space and sanity.
The Nature & Quality Of Sound
Humans have long been evaluating space with respect to acoustics. Architectural acoustics is the study of how sound waves are propagated in various types of spaces whether a bedroom, garage, basement, living room or concert hall.
In small spaces, sounds or “room resonances” are reflected off walls and are perceptible to listeners. Sound engineers alleviate this effect by using sub-woofers which emit low-frequency, deep rich bass sounds below 150 Hz. This helps solve problems of speaker placement creating good sound in small spaces: sounds must arrive to listeners’ ears at the same time, producing a concert like experience.
All those involved in design and construction of buildings including architects, interior designers, and engineers must be concerned with acoustics. Basic concepts include sound and hearing, sound absorption, noise reduction, vibrations, room acoustics design, and electronic sound.
Acoustics In The Wider World
Other areas of study for acoustics include events happening in the atmosphere, such as nuclear test detection, sonic booms, how sounds interact with structures, sound waves in fluids, the diffraction and scattering of sound, noise control and even the acoustical characteristics of lake and ocean sediments.
The science of sound, while an old field, still remains open to new developments. In the following video, scientists at the Argonne National Laboratory levitate objects using sound waves.
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