Tuesday, September 28, 2010

If a tree falls in the woods.....

Often times the tech crew on Sundays will get involved in various discussions about sound theories and applications. I like to use these discussions to help teach the guys and help them improve as often my friends are misinformed.

This past Sunday we got on the very philosphical subject regarding if a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it does it make a sound? I postulated that it does indeed make a sound but one of my former friends, whom I won't poke fun of here argued that it does not make a sound but rather creates a pressure wave that is not sound unless someone is there with an ear to perceive it. He said the wave does not become sound until it is heard by an ear which converts the pressure wave into sound therefore without an ear the tree only creates a pressure wave but does not create sound.

By now you are probably agreeing with me that my former friend was indeed wrong. It stands to reason that if the tree creates a pressure wave then it does indeed create sound with or without an ear. It's not as if the pressure wave is going to be perceived as light instead of sound when an ear intercepts the wave.

Needless to say my former friend and I had good time going back and forth basically arguing about the definition of the word "sound". Confident that I was right I continued with my morning. Being less sure of himself my former friend looked up the word "sound" in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Turns out "sound" is both the pressure wave by itself regardless of whether or not an ear is present to perceive it and it is also the perception of said wave by an ear. I'm so glad his confidence in his own argument was so shaken that he had to do the necessary research to prove us both right.

Of course, I could care less who was right and who was wrong. I'm merely interested in the truth prevailing and in this case we were both in the right. The question this begs is why my former friend felt the need to argue the definition of a word? Perhaps he learned from a famous politician who was accused of infidelity and based part of his defense on disputing the definition of another obvious, simple word: "is".