Speed of Sound

Speed of Sound allows a playful investigation of the difference between the speed of sound and the speed of light. The exhibit is in two sections. One for audible and visible signals, and located at the edge of the pier. Close to the seawall is the user station, consisting of a button and a graphics panel. When the user pushes the button the signals are activated. The sound reaches a user's ear about half a second after the light flashes. 

The Brief:

The NSF had issued a grant to the Exploratorium to create a set of interactive experiences around San Francisco's waterfront. The aim was provide users with guides to encourage focused and sustained observations of the natural and built surroundings. The exhibits were not to disturb the historical surroundings, and would ideally not create more structures along the piers. 

Richard Brown, the Exploratorium staff neuroscientist, had the idea that a long-range sound investigation would do nicely in the sparsely populated landscape around San Francisco's Fort Mason, where the project was installed.