Luke Keller

Professor, Physics and Astronomy
School: School of Humanities and Sciences


Welcome to Physics of Sound!

Why do different musical instruments have their distinctive sounds? How do microphones work? How do digital and analog recording work? Does the weather affect sound? How do humans hear and perceive sound? This course is an introduction to sound and its interaction with humans and matter in the world around us. We will explore the physics of sound waves as well as basic sound analysis techniques and technology. The Physics of Sound is an introductory course intended for non-science majors. We'll spend the first half of the semester exploring the fundamental physical properties of sound and then use the remaining time in the semester to investigate applications of the physics of sound from analysis of musical instruments, including the human voice, to animal sounds, to ultra-sonic imaging technology, and even how sound can be used to run a refrigerator! I run the classroom in a very interactive way with plenty of time devoted to discussion and answering questions; you will learn physics by doing physics, not just hearing me talk about it.

Learning Objectives

Students in The Physics of Sound will learn to:

  • describe and apply the basic physics concepts necessary for understanding sound, the production and recording of sound, and human hearing;
  • use estimation and simple calculations of physical quantities to obtain meaningful results;
  • effectively summarize and communicate scientific and technical information;
  • apply basic experimental techniques and data analysis procedures specific to the science and technology of sound; and
  • be more informed and confident consumers of scientific and technical information.