From the Editor | Arthur N. Popper


This issue continues our approach to having very diverse articles in Acoustics Today (AT). At the same time, a number of articles in this issue continue the “themes” that have been running through several earlier issues of AT. For example, we have been trying to include articles that provide some historical insight into various topics, with one goal being the education of members about the history of various fields and the early work that impacted the current work of members of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA).

One such article in this issue, by Maureen Stone and Christine Shadle, examines the history of research on human speech production. Maureen and Christine do this by examining a series of what they call “myths” about speech production and show the evolution of findings that examined these ideas.

Although not a history article that traces a field, history is also the subject of an article by the book editor of The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (JASA) and AT Philip Marston. Phil is very interested in the history of studies of sound, and in his article, he describes the contributions of the great physicist James Clerk Maxwell to the physics of sound. Of course, Phil also makes it clear that the physics of sound was only one of the many contributions of Maxwell, who, it turns out, is most famous for his electromagnetic wave theory of light. In the article, we learn about the contributions of Lord Rayleigh, the theories of sound, and electromagnetic theory among other topics.

Several of our recent issues have discussed various musical instruments and their origin and “evolution.” Another article in this vein is by Thomas Moore, who discusses (with great multimedia everyone should listen to) the acoustics of brass instruments. I was rather surprised to learn that “brass instruments” are not necessarily made of brass and that there are some musical instruments made of brass that do not fall into the category of brass instruments. For those interested in music, this article follows earlier articles on the piano (available at and the violin (available at Future articles will cover pipe organs and woodwinds. Ideas for other articles on related topics are invited.

The two final articles cover man-made noises that have an impact on the environment. In one article, my old friend Robert (Bob) Gisiner describes the mechanisms used for doing marine seismic surveys. Bob discusses the acoustics of marine seismic sound sources and how the energy from these sources is used to analyze subsurface geology.

In the other article, Judith Rochat and Darlene Reiter discuss highway traffic noise, a sound source that is rather ubiquitous and that, far more than seismic surveys, impacts humans on a daily basis. Judy and Darlene not only discuss the sources of traffic noise (which is not just from the vehicles themselves) but also approaches to the mitigation of traffic noise. I am hoping to have a future article that will discuss how these noises impact both humans and wildlife. Of course, the general topic of soundscapes and their impact on humans has been explored earlier in AT, most recently in our Winter 2014 issue (available at

This issue also introduces a new member of the ASA staff, L. Keeta Jones. Keeta is the new education and outreach coordinator for ASA. She has many interesting ideas to enhance ASA’s contributions in education, only some of which are mentioned in her article. Keeta will be leading a number of important initiatives, and AT looks forward to working with her at every opportunity, both in print and on our Web page, to enhance the ASA education and outreach efforts.