Sound and Ultrasound

  • Russell K. Hobbie
  • Bradley J. Roth


Sound (or acoustics) plays two important roles in our study of physics in medicine and biology. First, animals hear sound and thereby sense what is happening in their environment. Second, physicians use high-frequency sound waves (ultrasound) to image structures inside the body. This chapter provides a brief introduction to the physics of sound and the medical uses of ultrasonic imaging. A classic textbook by Morse and Ingard (1968) provides a more thorough coverage of theoretical acoustics, and books such as Hendee and Ritenour (2002) describe the medical uses of ultrasound in more detail.


Wave Equation Hair Cell Standing Wave Sound Wave Acoustic Impedance 
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  1. Denny, M. W. (1993) Air and Water, Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Hendee, W. R. and E. R. Ritenour. (1992) Medical Imaging Physics, 3rd Ed., St. Louis, Mosby Year Book.Google Scholar
  3. ICRU (1998). Tissue Substitutes, Phantoms and Computational Modeling in Medical Ultrasound. International Commission on Radiation Units and Measurements Report 61. Bethesda, MD, ICRU.Google Scholar
  4. Lindsay, R. B. and R. T. Beyer (1989). Acoustics. Ch. 2 in H. L. Anderson, editor in chief, A Physicist's Desk Reference, New York, American Institute of Physics.Google Scholar
  5. Morse, P. M. and K. U. Ingard (1968) Theoretical Acoustics, New York, McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  6. Newman E. B. (1957). Speech and Hearing. in D. E. Gray, coordinating editor, American Institute of Physics Handbook. New York, McGraw-Hill. p. 3–123.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Russell K. Hobbie
    • 1
  • Bradley J. Roth
    • 2
  1. 1.Professor of Physics, Emeritus University of Minnesota
  2. 2.Associate Professor of Physics Oakland UniversityOakland

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