Sound In The Space

In his treatise On the Soul, Aristotle wrote that “sound is a particular movement of air” (420b 10). The natural scientists of the 17th century refined this intuition into the wave theory of sounds, which appeared to be an obvious competitor for the quality or sensation (proximal) view. Galileo (1623) registered that “sounds are produced and heard by us when… a frequent vibration of air shaken in tiny waves moves a certain cartilage of the tympanum in our ear… the more frequent the vibration, the higher the pitch; the less frequent, the lower.” Descartes joined in and in his Passions of the Soul considered that what we actually hear are not the objects themselves, but some “movements coming from them” (1649, XXIII). Indeed, around 1636, Mersenne measured the speed of propagation of sound waves.

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