The speed of sound is the distance travelled per unit time by a sound wave as it propagates through an elastic medium. In dry air at 20 °C (68 °F), the speed of sound is 343.2 metres per second (1,126 ft/s; 1,236 km/h; 768 mph; 667 kn), or a kilometre in 2.914 s or a mile in 4.689 s.
In common everyday speech, speed of sound refers to the speed of sound waves in air. However, the speed of sound varies from substance to substance: sound travels most slowly in gases; it travels faster in liquids; and faster still in solids. For example (as noted above), sound travels at 343.2 m/s in air; it travels at 1,484 m/s in water(4.3 times as fast as in air); and at 5,120 m/s in iron. In an exceptionally stiff material such as diamond, sound travels at 12,000 m/s; which is around the maximum speed that sound will travel under normal conditions.
The speed of sound is variable and depends on the properties of the substance through which the wave is travelling.
Humidity has a small but measurable effect on the speed of sound (causing it to increase by about 0.1%–0.6%), because oxygen and nitrogen molecules of the air are replaced by lighter molecules of water. This is a simple mixing effect.
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