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Bats and Physics



blog-0271647001396923282.jpgBats are yet another example of a species of animal that I am completely fascinated by. Without bats, mosquitoes and the diseases they carry with them would overpopulate the earth. Bats have terrible vision, yet are capable of feasting on mosquitoes even during pitch black nights. How is this possible? Bats are one of the few animals known to man that are capable of a sophisticated technique called "echolocation". The process for echolocation is simple; The bat sends out a sound wave and waits for the sound to hit an object. When the sound wave hits, it bounces off the object and returns to the bat as an echo. Bats can identify the object by its echo alone; this includes the size, shape and texture of the insects near the bat.

Now, using our knowledge of physics, we can create a wave-practice problem using this awesome information about bats. A Noctule Bat's sound wave has a frequency of 20000 Hz, which is surprisingly one of the lowest frequency levels among bats. If it finds a juicy mosquito approximately 2 meters away, we can determine the velocity of the bat's sound wave. The velocity of a wave is equal to its frequency times its wavelength. So if multiply the Noctule bat's frequency times the 4 meter wavelength, (twice the distance away from the mosquito), we get a total velocity of 80000 m/s, or 80 km/s. Don't mess with bats.


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