Sound travels four times as fast through water as through air, about 1490 meters/second as compared to about 330 meters/second. Which of the following would be most useful in confirming either one or the other of these two speeds?

Record the altitude of a jet airplane passing far overhead.

Explanation

If you know the altitude of the plane, along with the delay between the time the plane passes overhead and the time you hear the jet engines, you can determine the speed of sound by dividing the altitude by the time delay. Observing a sprinter’s speed in reacting to a starter’s pistol, the last choice might be another way to measure the speed of sound. However, the pistol and sprinter might be too close to each other to create a measurable delay; what’s more, the sprinter’s reaction time will depend on other factors as well.

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