WHAT IS ACOUSTICS?
This term has a few different meanings for different people across various industries. However, let’s just say that Acoustics is the technical discipline that studies the phenomena of sound.
But what is sound then? As obvious as the answer can be, sound can be a bit more complex to explain than just defining it as a vibration in the air, which eventually excites your ear and generates a signal detected by your brain. Sound in general is indeed a wave sensed as a pressure differential in a medium, meaning that medium can be air, water or any other solid such as our bodies or a building. As a wave, sound can also have frequency and amplitude. Therefore, not every wave in the air will be sensed as sound in our brains since humans can only perceive waves with frequencies roughly between 20Hz and 20000Hz, so called audio frequency. Waves with lower frequencies might be perceived as a vibration and those with higher frequencies are ultrasound, not detectable by any of the human’s senses.
Now, what do we do knowing what sound is and what its characteristics are? Well, the fields of application and its uses are great and varied. A few Australian examples: An acoustician most certainly would have been taken part in the design of any apartment built in the last 10 years or so to ensure that the party walls between adjoining apartments had been built with materials that would control sound transmission to acceptable levels for comfort of both residential sides; acoustics consultants would have had reviewed every large mining project proposals and written reports in environmental impact assessments required by government to demonstrate that potential noise from proposed activities had been accounted for, to avoid unduly noise as required by law; an acoustics person would have been consulted for advice before the construction of recital halls to ensure that the sound from the acts expected in such hall would use the surfaces and shapes of the room to enhance the sound and make it clear to the audience, an acoustic consultant most likely did calculations of what kind of windows and glass an office building near the airport would need to reduce the aircraft noise intrusion to levels that would not affect usual work within an office environment. The examples go on and on, but you get the idea… Applications are in education, healthcare, defense, resources industries, power generation, transportation, building & construction, arts, entertainment, etc.