Well, What's the Answer?

@singout (980)
United States
August 9, 2008 12:24am CST
Remember when you were in school studying science? Remember when your teacher told you that sound was made up of vibrations which were recieved by a recepter such as an ear drum. The brain then interprets those vibrations as sound. More than likely your teacher also asked a question which has fascinated me for years. And I've always wanted to know what other people have thought about it. Here is the question: If a tree falls in the forest and there is nobody around to hear it, does it make a sound? Well, send me some vibrations about that.
6 responses
@mentalward (14693)
• United States
28 Aug 08
Sure it makes a sound. Our receptors (ears) just don't pick it up! I bet if you just asked some of the wildlife around there, they'd tell you that they heard it! But, if there weren't even any critters around to hear it, I guess you'll just never know, huh? A good audio-recorder should answer that for you! I've had questions like that be on my mind for years as well. Mine are generally more language-based than philosophical, though. (Why do some people say "I COULDN'T care less" and others say "I COULD care less"? When do we use 'further' and when do we use 'farther'?) Some of them I've been able to answer since the invention of the internet while others still have me baffled. So, did I send you any good, good, good vibrations?
@singout (980)
• United States
28 Aug 08
lol. I read you loud and clear. That was one of those questions you get from your science teacher in school in order to make you think. First he gives you all the elements of sound (ie, vibrations+receptors equal sound) without both of those elements present you don't have sound (or so says he) as we know it. So I guess your guess is as good as mine. But in the strictest sense of the word he may be right. Without a receptor all you have is vibrations which continue until they reach a receptor or dissipate. OH, WHO CARES!
@mentalward (14693)
• United States
28 Aug 08
Hmmm, you sound JUST like my husband. Now I'll have to go wake him up and ask him. He ALWAYS has answers... not always the correct ones, but answers just the same. You aren't Aquarian by any chance, are you?
@singout (980)
• United States
28 Aug 08
As a matter of fact I am a Pisces. Not being an avid astrology follower I just don't keep up with that stuff. Why do you ask?
@dclary (141)
• United States
9 Aug 08
Hi singout. LOL I remember this question. My answer is yes, it does make a sound. Regardless if there is anyone within hearing range or not, we know that it makes a sound when falling. You can turn a radio on in your home and walk outside and you may not hear it but you know that it is still making a sound.
@singout (980)
• United States
9 Aug 08
Thanks for your response dclary. Ahh, But those vibrations made by the tympanic membranes in the speakers do nothing more than move air. But what happens to those vibrations if there is no ear to hear it?
@dclary (141)
• United States
9 Aug 08
Whether there was an ear to hear it or not, the fact still remains that the tympanic membranes in the speakers would still move the air causing a sound even though we don't hear it.
@singout (980)
• United States
9 Aug 08
Thanks dclary. Good comment. My teacher would have said, though (for the sake of discussion), break down the components of sound. Doesn't a brain of some kind have to be present to interpret the vibrations as sound? But you're right, the animals will hear it as sound because their brains will naturally interpret it as sound.
@Latrivia (2888)
• United States
21 Aug 08
A loose definition of sound is "transmitted vibrations through gas, solids, and liquids". By this definition, yes, it makes a sound, because vibrations are emitted by the crashing tree. However, if by 'sound' you mean the perceptible noise of a tree crashing to the ground, then no. If there is nothing around to perceive that sound, then no such sound is made. The vibrations continue moving through the air until something with functional hearing perceives it.
@singout (980)
• United States
21 Aug 08
I wish you would have posted this earlier because that is a great answer. Thanks for the response latrivia. Does your name have anything to do with an interest in trivia?
@Latrivia (2888)
• United States
22 Aug 08
No, it doesn't mean 'trivia' but that's a good guess. Not even I remember what it means anymore. I created it by combining two words together to make a gamer title, and it was so long ago that I forgot what words I used. I like the name, though, so I use it in a lot of places.
@rocker21 (2717)
• India
9 Aug 08
Yes it does the waves really travel around, Even if you are not standing near the tree and if you are far to hear it, you can ! Lets see this imagine in your city some one is falling off a building he/she is making sound but you are not there, to hear it, that doesnt mean he/she( who is falling ) didnt make sound LOL.
@singout (980)
• United States
9 Aug 08
Of course they would have made a sound because their ears would have picked up the vibrations of their own voice. If it had been me, I would have really been vibrating my vocal chords so that the world could hear. LOL
@rocker21 (2717)
• India
18 Aug 08
ahaha yeah thats there too, well your discussion was really nice !
@sunnflr (2767)
• United States
9 Aug 08
Yes, the animals can still hear it...lol. They are usually plenty of animals in the forest even if people aren't, and I'm sure they wouldn't misss a tree falling. Now I don't know if they hear sound the same way we do or not.
@singout (980)
• United States
9 Aug 08
There you go. A brain and ear drum is present in the animals to pick up the vibrations and interpret the vibrations as sound. Thanks for the response, sunnflr.
@sisco100 (2343)
• United States
9 Aug 08
the real question is how do u know tht a tree fell if there no one around. anyways everything makes a sound even if theres no one around to hear it. lets say tht u droped a plate, it makes a sound cuz u hear it, why would it change if u werent there. u know tht it makes a sound, so wht would change it.
@singout (980)
• United States
9 Aug 08
Thanks for the response sisco100. Hey that was a good question about the tree falling without someone there to see it. My teacher said though, that without a receptor, it is just a vibration; Obviously, it was a question to spur discussion.