Understanding the Experience of Watching Fireworks: Sound vs Light

Question:

A city is celebrating an event with fireworks. During the show, an aerial firework safely explodes in the night sky. If a person is standing 0.5 km away from the fireworks show, which statement correctly describes what the person would experience?

  1. First, the person would hear the sound produced by the fireworks, and then the person would see the light produced by the fireworks.
  2. First, the person would see the light produced by the fireworks, and then the person would hear the sound produced by the fireworks.
  3. The person would hear the sound produced by the fireworks and see the light produced by the fireworks at the same time.
  4. The person would see the light produced from the fireworks but would not hear any sound from the fireworks.

Answer:

The person would first see the light produced by the fireworks and then hear the sound because the speed of light is faster than the speed of sound. This time difference becomes more noticeable as the distance between the person and the firework increases.

Explanation:

If a person is standing 0.5 km away from the fireworks show and an aerial firework safely explodes in the sky, the correct statement describing what the person would experience is: First, the person would see the light produced by the fireworks, and then the person would hear the sound produced by the fireworks.

Sound and light both travel at definite speeds, but sound travels much more slowly than light. Therefore, the light from the firework explosion, traveling at the speed of light, would reach the person's eyes almost instantaneously, while the sound, traveling at the speed of sound, would arrive slightly later.

This phenomenon occurs regardless of the observer's proximity to the source of the sound and light, but it becomes more noticeable at greater distances due to the longer time it takes for sound to cover the distance compared to light.

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