• Question: If the sound would be played at the same volume in the dark out of the sun or in the sun, in the light, would the volume of the sound change even a bit? Because light energy may obscure the sound waves, so I thought.

    Asked by barney to Iain, Jo, Leo, Mariam on 24 Jun 2010 in Categories: .
    • Photo: Leo Garcia

      Leo Garcia answered on 24 Jun 2010:

      Great question! Can sound and light interact with each other?

      My first thought was ‘no’ – because the two waves are very different. Sound is waves of pressure moving through a medium, and light is an electromagnetic wave which requires no medium to propagate. However, I know that lasers can be used to create sound waves:


      By causing rapid local heating and cooling, which induces sound waves… And I know that light can interact with electrons within a medium – and so if the medium was being affected by a sound wave at the same time…

      My answer, I’m afraid is “I don’t know”. I think it’s a great question, but I don’t have the knowledge to answer it. Why not try asking here:


      Or even emailing a physics department of a local university. My gut feeling is that yes, the light would affect the sound propagation – but only in some very small way.