Teaching Science

Waves and Sound Resources


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Vibrations and Waves

Wave Interactions

Applications of Waves

Discovery: The sound of deafness

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Updated March 17, 2014
Discovery is a BBC Radio 4 programme that explores today's most significant scientific discoveries and talks to the scientists behind them.

Nine million people in the UK alone have significant hearing problems. The mechanisms in our ears that help us hear are incredibly sensitive and are easily damaged by environmental hazards such as loud noises and chemicals or simply the passage of time.

Despite the fact that many of us will gradually lose our ability to hear as we as a society grow older, many of us don’t actually know that much about the causes and consequences of deafness.

What does the world sound like to a deaf person? How do the brain and ears work together to make sense of sound? And how far have scientists come in helping to restore impaired hearing?

Discovery: Green Ears

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Updated March 17, 2014
Discovery is a BBC Radio 4 programme that explores today's most significant scientific discoveries and talks to the scientists behind them.

Many of us think of our gardens, parks and green urban spaces as retreats and oases of calm from our busy lives, others think of them as places for fun, socialising and play, whereas there are some who think of them as just hard work.

Whatever we think, we usually think of them in terms of what they look like, even maybe what they smell like. But in Green Ears, Professor Trevor Cox explores what they sound like.

Acoustics play a massive part in our sense of space. With loud noises like traffic or industrial works actually causing us harm. The right sorts of sounds, at the right volume and pitch though can really help to enhance our sense of tranquility.

So what are the sounds we most like to hear in our gardens? Water tricking, birds singing, bees buzzing, wind rustling leaves and children playing (quietly or from a distance!) can be as calming as beautiful planting and clever layout. But it has to be the right trickle of water, get it wrong and you may find you want to rush to the loo! too loud and the sense of Niagara Falls in your small back yard can feel threatening.

Discovery: The Acoustics of World Instruments 1/3

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Updated March 17, 2014
Discovery is a BBC Radio 4 programme that explores today's most significant scientific discoveries and talks to the scientists behind them.

From Mongolian throat singing to the grand opera houses of Europe and folk singing in the fields of Bulgaria, Trevor Cox examines how the human voice makes sound.

He hears of a study in Australia that suggests Wagner may have chosen specific vowel sounds to help female singers battle against vast orchestral forces. And how Mongolian throat singers took inspiration from the multiple sounds they heard in the wind.

Discovery: The Acoustics of World Instruments 2/3

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Updated March 17, 2014
Discovery is a BBC Radio 4 programme that explores today's most significant scientific discoveries and talks to the scientists behind them.

What makes the sound of a clarinet different to an oboe or a recorder? Trevor Cox — acoustic engineer and saxophone player — examines the science of wind instruments.

He learns how playing the didgeridoo could help the best jazz saxophonists. And discovers the shared science between simple squeeze boxes and Asian free reed instruments.

Discovery: The Acoustics of World Instruments 3/3

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Updated March 17, 2014
Discovery is a BBC Radio 4 programme that explores today's most significant scientific discoveries and talks to the scientists behind them.

Trevor Cox explores how percussion and string instruments make their own particular sounds.

He finds surprising scientific connections between a Stradivarius violin, singing bowls of Tibet and playing a saw used for cutting wood.

And he learns how the rise of the oil industry in World War II gave birth to the hand crafting of Steel Pans in the Caribbean — a skill that is attracting scientific analysis today.