A reader disagrees with Marilyn regarding why sound travels farther over water

Marilyn is Wrong Copyright © 1999-2006 Herb Weiner. All rights reserved.

Ask Marilyn ® by Marilyn vos Savant is a column in Parade Magazine, published by PARADE, 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017, USA. According to Parade, Marilyn vos Savant is listed in the "Guinness Book of World Records Hall of Fame" for "Highest IQ."

In her Parade Magazine column of December 17, 2006, Marilyn stated that sound carries farther over water than over land because sound is amplified by the cooling effect of the water.

Sorry, Marilyn, but one of your readers has a different explanation

Dan Pangburn <danpangburn@earthlink.net> wrote:

Her answer was that "sound is amplified . . . because the water has a cooling effect . . ."

If this were true (it isn't), then, when the water is warmer (than the air) the sound should not carry as far over water.

The correct answer is that sound is not absorbed by the water surface which is specular but is absorbed by the land surface which is diffuse.

http://www.wiskit.com/marilyn/soundoverwater.html last updated December 18, 2006 by herbw@wiskit.com