10

The question is delicate because of the phrasing that assumes empirical approach, which did not emerge until 17th century. And the notion of "speed" as applied to sound presupposes the concept of wave in a medium, which dates to late Renaissance. The use of "speed" in antiquity was mostly confined to uniform motions of localized objects, not light or sound. ...


6

The concept of oscillation in air conveying sound did not develop all at once, but was instead a natural development of ancient ideas. Aristotle, for example, may have had a correct understanding of sound, thinking of the vibration of (say) the string of a musical instrument, causing a similar vibration in the air, this being received with a similar ...


6

Is there any evidence that this relation between sound and oscillations was known in antiquity? It doesn't appear that the ancients had any proof that sound waves were oscillations in a medium, although Aristotle appears to have been the first to theorize about it. From this pdf (with a transcript available here): The wave interpretation was also ...


3

I'm not sure if there was ever a doubt that sound has a finite speed. Your reference to thunder/lightning may have allowed people throughout history to realize that sound has a finite speed, slower than light. It was Ole Roemer who first discovered that light traveled at a finite speed, people before him believed that light traveled at an infinite speed. ...


3

One of the first theories is due to Newton. He derived a formula for the speed of sound from his wave theory, and compared with experiment. (The experiment was difficult at that time, because of the lack of exact clocks). His theory had a reasonable agreement with the experiment but was not very precise because he did not take thermodynamics into account at ...


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