“Go on Sanjay, go on,” we shouted. It was the annual sports meet in our school and the 100 metres sprint was on. The White House runner Deepak was giving our Blue House sprinter, Sanjay, tough competition.
As the sprinters neared the finishing line, and the shouts turned into screams, I noticed something remarkable. Everyone had cupped their hands around their mouths while shouting.
The gesture caught my attention. I had seen that kind of a hand movement in plays and folk dances. What is the reason behind this theatrical gesture?
The science behind sound
It has something to do with sound waves and the way we hear. The vibrations of vocal chords in the throat produce sound waves, which come out through our mouth and travel through the air in all directions. The vocal chords are tiny strings, which hang from our voice box or larynx. The sound, which we produce, spreads out in all directions like ripples in a pond.
When these waves strike a person’s ear, she or he is able to hear our sound. When the waves spread out in all directions, a person standing at a distance is not able to hear it with intensity, for the energy of the sound waves is also spread out.
But, when we cup our hands around our mouth, the sound waves travel only in one direction. The intensity of the sound waves does not decrease. Thus, the sound can travel much further and clearly reach a person standing at a distance. Cupping your hands around your mouth is a simple method of making your voice reach farther.
As for the sports meet, White House defeated Blue House and bagged the sports trophy. Though no one could say for sure whether our hearts were sorer than our throats.