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Physics/sound and pitch


As a musician I am well aware of how important it is that a guitar is tuned t the right pitch. A guitar definitely has pitch.
Drums on the other hand don't seem to have pitch as you never have that problem of pitch when playing them. But according to science all sound has a pitch. Doesn't drums have pitch to? Is there a difference between the sound of a vibrating string and the vibration from a snare drum when it comes to pitch? What does science say?

Waves are complex, and drums have so many different pitches that they form what is almost a shock front.  This discussion will lead to Fourier analysis if I go too deep into it...but basically the difference is that with a guitar you have a sustained set of a few frequencies, and with a drum you have short burst of a massive number of frequencies.  For a pretty good visual, look on the third page of this: forming a step function.


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Dr. Stephen O. Nelson


I can answer most basic physics questions, physics questions about science fiction and everyday observations of physics, etc. I'm also usually good for science fair advice (I'm the regional science fair director). I do not answer homework problems. I will occasionally point out where a homework solution went wrong, though. I'm usually good at explaining odd observations that seem counterintuitive, energy science, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, and alternative theories of physics are my specialties.


I was a physics professor at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin, research in nuclear technology and nuclear astrophysics. My travelling science show saw over 20,000 students of all ages. I taught physics, nuclear chemistry, radiation safety, vacuum technology, and answer tons of questions as I tour schools encouraging students to consider careers in science. I moved on to a non-academic job with more research just recently.

Ph. D. from Duke University in physics, research in nuclear astrophysics reactions, gamma-ray astronomy technology, and advanced nuclear reactors.

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