If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?

Well whether anyone is around or not when a tree falls, it still makes sounds...Branches & wood cracking...Leaves crunching...the sound and vibration as it its the ground....So in my opionion yes whether anyone is there or not it still makes sound...

88 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Best Answer

    Sound is a wave which is created by vibrating objects and propagated through a medium from one location to another. the definition does not require detection of the sound therefore no one needs to hear it for it to exist.

    take another example: you cant see air, does it exist? yes

    also take it from another perspective: how wud you know a tree fell if you could not hear it? someone must hv heard it, otherwise u wudnt know the tree fell.

    conclusion: yes, it makes sound, failing to detect the sound is another issue. if u cud gather equipment sensitive enough, you wud notice that the tree did make a sound.

  • 1 decade ago

    Let's get beyond the technicality of whether "sound" is what you hear through your sense of hearing or is only the vibrations in the air caused by some event that you may or may not hear depending on whether you are around to hear it. You can find both definitions of it in a good dictionary.

    So, to the real issue: If the earth was created and no human being was around to witness it, does it still exist? The answer is, of course, yes, because it had to be here long enough for us to evolve.

    You could also ask, "If I wasn't born to live and experience all of this, would it really exist? It's kind of a spiritual question in the end and there are as many correct answers as there are people to answer it. And that's the answer to the question about the tree.

  • 1 decade ago

    This is a most ridiculous question. Do we all remember when the earth was thought to be the center of the universe? This question is no less ego-centric, and perhaps whom ever asked it should be persecuted as Copernicus was for suggesting that the revolved around the sun. Just because there is not a human witness nearby to experience and 'confirm' an even has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with weather or not it actually happened.

    Another angle: If you are walking in the woods alone, a tree falls on you and breaks your leg but nobody hears your scream. Did you still make a sound?

  • 1 decade ago

    The falling tree strikes objects such as other trees and the ground. Each of the various impacts create an energy wave which travels outward from the tree. If the energy is great enough, it can effect near by items such as leaves, dust particles and water droplets as it passes. That is certainly the case when the tree hits the ground. Yet, it remains energy, not sound. However, if that energy is received by a receptor which is able to convert it into sound, then the falling tree makes a sound. That receptor could be the ear of any living thing, human or otherwise, or perhaps a randomly placed recording device from some reality TV show looking for monsters, etc. Without the conversion, the energy remains as energy. With the receptor it becomes sound. All sound which we hear is energy which our ears convert into nerve impulses that our brains interpret as sound. No ear & no brain = no sound.

    Source(s): Physiology 301
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  • 1 decade ago

    There are 2 angles from which to consider this: that of physics and that of biology. From the physical point of view, a sound is a vibrational wave that moves through a medium by having its energy passed along by surrounding molecules of the air. A falling tree would propagate the necessary energy (as waves) that would be described as "sound" whether anyone is there to hear it or not.

    Biology: it's thought that sound can only exist if it affects the nervous system. If this were the case, then by the mere fact that in the world there exist people who are deaf, it could be concluded that sound itself doesn't exist. This, of course, is untrue, since there are also people who CAN hear. Thus, from both perspectives, whether a person is within range of the sound waves or not, a tree falling in a forest WILL make a sound.

  • 1 decade ago

    Humans should stop being so selfish to think that just because we are not in ear shot that a tree doesn't make a sound when it falls. There are millions of other living things in a forest that have perfectly clear hearing and I'm sure if you could ask them they would tell you that yes a tree does make a sound as it falls and causes some sort of devastation or uncomfort for all of the residents of that forest. Philosophy is fun and it makes you think on a deeper level but it's not always meant to be taken literally...

  • 1 decade ago

    I do not know what makes this question so complex. Sound is created by a vibration of an object generating a pressure difference in the air that can travel away farther distance. Whether someone hear it or not sound will be created when the tree falls. Making sound has nothing to do with someone hearing it or not. Unless I missed something, this question sound ridiculous

  • 1 decade ago

    Sound is, the vibration sent through the air bouncing off other objects. A deaf person, although they can not hear, can feel it. Whether they are close enough to feel it or not does not change that fact that the vibrations are there. I think the real question is; Is sound the vibration caused by the falling tree or is it the vibration hitting an ear? My thought is, if the deaf person can feel it, it's made a sound... even if they are not there, it has still made that sound, vibration, or energy... or whatever you want to call it.

  • 1 decade ago

    Sure! And there's proof. Anything physical will be impacted slightly by sound waves, exactly the way a stylus dug grooves into wax on the first sound recordings (Edison, but there were other contenders).

    When a meteorite exploded over Tunguska in Russia in 1908 (with absolutely no people around), the nearest trees were blown over by the force of the explosion itself, but trees one hundred miles away were scarred by the sound itself. We can see the 'recording', but we have no way to decode it.

    There was an episode of "Fringe" this past season where they retrieved the "recording" from a pane of glass; of course it was TV so they made it look really easy, but anything solid does indeed record sound.

    As to "What if there's no one around to hear it?" What hubris! Natural phenomenon do not rely on human intervention to occur. It's been repeatedly proven that plants grow better and faster with classical music playing, so that proves that in some way, on some level, plants can 'hear'. As do all the woodland fauna. They just never think to make a philosophical discussion about it.

    Wouldn't it suck if you were a wood chuck, and the trees only made sounds when they fell IF A HUMAN WAS AROUND? Talk about thinking you're the center of the universe...

  • 1 decade ago

    Well, I guess you could say that it all depends on your perception of the word "sound." You see, when an object makes a sound, what happens is that air molecules vibrate, and those vibrations reach the inner ear, which is what causes the ear to hear the sound. So, yes, the tree does make a sound because it causes the molecules in the air to vibrate, even if the ear never hears the sound. But, no, the tree doesn't make a hearable sound, because the vibrating molecules never reach the inner ear, so the ear never hears it. That's it in a nutshell. Hope this helps.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It isn't the importance of whether the sound of a fallen tree in the woods is heard but more so the importance on whether the fallen tree was SEEN. There are too many levels of sound in the universe to decide if it was heard. For example the dog whistle. a sound level not heard by HUMANS but seen when the dogs respond. Now turn to the phrase: The shot heard around the world! It isn't the actions that hold the importance in life but the consequences to those actions!

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