Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Society & CultureMythology & Folklore · 1 decade ago

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

I'm going to give you the answer already because Autumn got it wrong. First she spelled the example of S. Cat wrong. Sound is an vibration but, I heard many answers and somehow people say sound can be many forms which it cannot. A rock cannot hear the sound but when the tree falls down next to it the rock will be effected by the vibration.

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  • 1 decade ago
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    Yes, sound is a vibration. Just because no one is there to hear the vibration doesn't mean the vibration didn't occur. If you talk to a deaf person does it mean you're not talking because they can not hear you? Of course not. This question has always seemed absurd to me.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Well, you already pointed out the first thing I was going to say: Autumn did get Schroedinger's Cat experiment wrong. And for a second thing: opening the box and viewing what happens does affect the outcome in a way, but based on his experiment, it's more accurate to say that opening the box and seeing what happened cements one outcome into being. Schroedinger theorized that, until someone opened the box and saw if the cat activated the poison mechanism or not, then both outcomes were happening simultaneously, and the whole thing was in a sort of 'flux'. And while a rock would be affected by vibrations caused by the tree falling, that's not the same as saying that it would really make a 'sound'. It's only when it's interpreted in a certain way that it's actually a sound. In a small way, it's like the 'global superpositioning' theory...suppose you're the only one who hears a ball bouncing behind you. That ball, according to the theory, could actually be bouncing in a hundred different places at once, but when you turn and actually view it, then it's cemented in that one certain place. If you don't come away from quantum physics a little bit crazy, then you didn't really understand it. :P

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  • 1 decade ago

    When I was a bit younger I thought about this question many times. After studying Physics for about 15 years or so the answer seems obvious. Sound is produced by pressure waves in the air or any other medium. There are inaudible sounds produced by speakers and such things that can cause vibrations in very massive objects. So, as long as we define sound as these pressure waves produced then the answer is yes, sound is produced by a tree falling in the forest if no one is there to hear it. One could also ask a more obvious question ... if one created a remote controlled supersonic jet that broke the sound barrier a distance far from any being to hear it, would it make a sound when it broke the sound barrier? Yes, of course! A sonic boom would still be created.

    Source(s): Ph.D. Physics
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  • 1 decade ago

    *sigh* THIS question again. Okay, for any one who wants to PROVE this once and for all, follow these simple instructions.

    1. take a digital recorder into the woods and let it run (hopefully a tree will randomly fall, haha). Leave and come back in a day.

    2. take the recorder to your local music store, and ask to have it hooked up to a sound board.

    3. unhook the sound boards output so there are no speakers connected to it.

    4. play back the recording and watch the little digital meter on whatever track your plugged into go CRAZY with all the sounds captured on the recorder.

    There, PRESTO! You have not HEARD the sound, but the evidence is undeniable. It's right there on the mixer board as the little track meter lights go crazy. You'll be watching the mixer react to the SOUND of the wind, insects, rain, animals, EVERYTHING - even a tree falling if one should have happened to.

    Of course there's the argument that vibration isn't sound, and that the recorder is only capturing vibration. Sure, that's a scientific fact. But come on, this doesn't have to be difficult. When was the last time you heard someone say "Gee, I love the vibrations of your voice".

    Source(s): common sense
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  • 1 decade ago

    A sound is a vibration so it stands to reason that if there is nothing there to pick up the sound vibration and convert it into sound that no noise would be heard.

    I'm not changing my answer But adding to it. the question is not Does the tree make a vibration but does it make a sound. Yes the tree falling has all the Components except one to make sound. But if it is missing one component then it can not complete the process. The process of sound is the vibration converted by something to make it a sound, I'vee read that a Deaf person can fell the Vibration, Yes but the sound is not heard.

    Think about it in this manner, you have all the parts to build a car but do you have a car? No you have all the Components but the car is still not there. it isn't whole, Thus if a tree fell in the woods and nothing around to convert the air vibration into sound it would crash in silence to the ground.

    it's like the chicken and the egg? the answer is there you just have to put it into perspective. Vibration is not sound,

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  • 1 decade ago

    It makes a sound every time. It is egotistical to think that if a human doesn't hear it there is no sound. The odds of a tree falling and not being heard are about as close to zero as you can get. So if an animal hears the sound that doesn't count, as the animal isn't human? Or if an insect doesn't hear it in it's way by sensing the vibration that doesn't count? I can't believe the stupid answers on this forum, particularly the one chosen as the best answer. Do you really think sound came to the Earth when humanity did? You think sound will be extinct from the Earth with the extinction of humanity?

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  • 1 decade ago

    First of all noise is a vibration, and or echo. Whether it a tree or a bottle dropped from ten feet, the vibrations are going to be high pitched/bottle and the tree an enormous thundering vibration(of course depending on size but is not relevant to this theory). the only true answer to this theory is that the tree indeed makes a sound when it falls and no one is around to hear it, we have no way of picking up any sound,noise if it is far off. we do not hear it because their are no vibrations to pick up or hear. the tree indeed makes a sound this is a question of redicuilus proportion and can be argued in many ways. thats just my thought. of course i think about time and relativity as well as gravity and all aspects of the theory.

    im out

    peace

    Source(s): trees falling/do they make a sound?
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  • 1 decade ago

    The last time this was asked someone thought it was a complex question, and the favorite answer given was that the definition of sound was when a vibration reaches the ears (to paraphrase). That is the definition of Hearing, Not sound.

    Sound can be defined as the vibration of air in specific patterns (which can be interpretted by hearing organs such as ears).

    The presence of a hearing organ is not necessary for the creation of sound.

    Yes, when a tree falls a noise is made. Wondering if sound revlolves around whether or not you are present to hear it, is Megalomania.

    Source(s): Common Sense
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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I couldn't agree more. Sound is only available to those capable of sensory conversion. If a tree falls in the woods and I am there to hear it, but my friend Sam, who is deaf, is standing 5 feet away from me wont hear it, but we will both in fact feel the vibrations from the fall. So i think the real question to ask is whether or not sound is dependent upon sensory conversion. In continued thought over this seemingly simple debate, I find myself getting lost in a sea of confusion and ignorance formed under a foundation of philosophy that tells me it's vibration not sound, that sound is dependent upon something that can hear, but vibration is also dependent upon something that can feel, so without the feeling is there still a vibration? Which brings us to the age old dilemma of the chicken and the egg, god and man, man and religion, fallen tree and sound. The reality, and strange as this may be to everyone...if I am not there to witness it I am rarely concerned about. This is actually a phenomena that happens to everyone. Cause the truth is that several persons that I don't know have just died while I wrote this whole ramble and I am not that concerned about it, nor am I about the tree I didn't hear when it made a sound that my friend could only feel.

    Source(s): my thought process.
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  • 1 decade ago

    To many people, the answer to this question is self-evident. Yet the dichotomous nature of such a question purely reflects one's personal beliefs. But indeed, I believe I know the answer! Of course it makes a sound. It is likely that the entire universe was created by sound vibrations, or oscilation. Yet we were not "here", in physical form anyway, to perceive this sound. Whether you believe God, Creator, Source, Big Bang, etc. created this sound it will nonetheless lead you to the same result. But if we conclude that human perception of sound is the only one that counts, we are precluding, or denying, the same life force that created us to begin with. Sound and vibrations affect everything around us, and I don't feel anyone can sensibly dispute this fact. Even in the "stillness" there is vibration, matter perpetually changing forms again and again. Thus these changes occur whether we "hear" them or not, therefore there is in fact a resulting sound from the tree that topples over. Moreover, a rock can hear sound in the middle of the forest. We may deny this fact because we reason that the rock has no intellectual capacity to hear and judge things as we do, but still, the vibration which occurs (eg, erosion) does affect the nature of all the tiny, sub-atomic particles and the energy which makes up those particles still. In our Universe all things are made up of energy, it's presence is ubiquitous whether we sense it or not.

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  • 1 decade ago

    yes it does. At it's vertical position the tree's center of mass is "x" number of feet off the ground and, thus, has a certain amount of potential energy due to gravity. Once the tree begins to fall, this potential energy is changed to kinetic energy or the energy associated with motion. As energy cannot be created or destroyed, but rather only changed into other forms of energy such as heat, when the tree hits the ground it must release the kinetic and potential energy it has. When it hits the ground it causes vibration that is dampened by the soil and by disturbing any loose sediment, such as the rock mentioned in the question. It also, however, dissipates energy through the production of sound waves which, like the transformation to heat energy from friction, is a means of energy dissipation. These waves are what people perceive as sound when they enter the ear canal and cause the ear drum to vibrate. Removing the ear from the environment only eliminates the receiver from the equation not the emitter. So in short, the tree hits the ground and must release it's energy if it is to come to rest, which is done partially through the production of sound waves upon impact. The sound waves are generated regardless of the local population and, therefore the falling tree does produce sound.

    Source(s): Basic physics and principles of thermodynamics, especially first law of thermodynamics.
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