My independent project is investigating how landscape affects sound. More specifically, I am researching how altitude, temperature, wind, medium, and material manipulate sound, and applying that research to the Spring Creek Preserve. During my time on the preserve, many people, including myself, noticed how unpredictable sound travelled within it. For example, cows a quarter mile woke us up in the mornings because they were so loud, and calling to people was surprisingly difficult in other instances.
As someone with little experience with the physics of sound and acoustics, most of my time has been spend doing background research in order to gain the fundamental understanding of what sound is and how it travels. After I was confident in my ability to explain it, I moved on to how the environment of the preserve would affect its propagation. It has been very interesting, because many variables that I predicted were amplifying sound and/or increasing the speed of sound actually did the opposite, and vice versa.
Although my independent project is mostly research, I created an experiment that I could perform in the preserve so that it would relate to the program more closely. I first chose an area with uneven terrain— it ended up being 137 meters across in the x direction— and split its x distance into four equal parts. I then placed my phone at one end and recorded myself clapping at each interval, and then recorded again with my phone at the other end of the 137 meters. After that, I repeated this procedure in an area of flat terrain, as far from valleys and hills as possible. After arriving back at the dorm, I was able to analyze the decibels of my claps, and I will hopefully be able to explain why the trends in volume occurred with the research I have done.