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Question

What in meant by an echo? What is the condition necessary for an echo to be heard distinctly ?


Solution

Like all waves, sound waves can be reflected. Sound waves suffer reflection from the large obstacles. As a result of reflection of sound wave from a large obstacle, the sound is heard which is named as an echo. 
The sensation of any sound persists in our ear for about 0.1 seconds. This is known as the persistence of hearing. If the echo is heard within this time interval, the original sound and its echo cannot be distinguished. So the most important condition for hearing an echo is that the reflected sound should reach the ear only after a lapse of at least 0.1 second after the original sound dies off. As the speed of sound is 340 m/s, the distance travelled by sound in 0.1 second is 34 m. This is twice the minimum distance between a source of sound and the reflector. So, if the obstacle is at a distance of 17 m at least, the reflected sound or the echo is heard after 0.1 second, distinctly.

Physics

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