If a tree falls in the middle of the forest and nobody is around to hear it, does it still make a sound?

I'm sure many people have heard this question before and have found it perplexing. but everyone has their own different reason of why they chose yes or no. so I was just wondering...

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while i suppose an argument about some operating definitions of sound requiring a listener might have some weight, i think most of us would agree that, unlike rare particles, a tree in the forest, by all definitions will interact with many (living)things, not just humans, so for most definitions of sound, the answer is yes

I agree. Sound travels in waves through the air/ another medium. These waves will exist whether animals/ humans can hear them or not. 

I would say yes. Just as when star burns out, no one may know about it for a million more years it still burnt out back then. Mainly though my reason for yes is, why would the molecular level of other things be changed so dramatically just because there was a person there, and what about the person being there would make it make what we call a 'sound'? So it just makes sense that it does. 

The only reason we don't know when a star burns out is because of light and has nothing to do with sound.

I like what Danno is saying. Yes, the tree falling makes waves of compression in the air and such, but I think it really only becomes "sound" when our ears perceive it. Kind of like if your body was in a vacuum except for your arm, and in the space your arm was in a massive tree fell. So massive in fact that the sound waves vibrated your arm, like amps at a concert. You would probably say, "that felt big" not "that sounded loud" because your arm felt the waves, not your ears =]

Yes! I effing love this reply.

If feel like this is supposed to be some deep philosophical question but I don't see it... yes by the way.. yes it does.

science.  expanding your understanding and ruining your musings...

Maybe we could look at the problem like quantum mechanics and shroedingers cat: if there is no one who can hear or see it, we can not be shure something has hapened, until we go to the forest and look for a fallen tree. We can not be shure if it has fallen or not, also if it had made a sound while doing so - of course usualy we assume, that it is so, but we only know this with a certain propability which is most certainly not 100%.
Or like in minecraft: if you play a new world with a world seed you know, you may know how the mountains are shaped and where the jungles are, but they do not exist until you go there and they are loaded.

exactly, this is what i was trying to get at.  actually we can blame Shrodinger for such misrepresentations as his example is so often used.  the terms observer and observed are misleading nine times out of ten.  both in quantum mechanics and the forest, an observer need not be human, nor even human like.  really all it needs to be is something  that can interact with the particle...or cat or tree in some way.

Shrodinger's cat was theorized to point out a flaw in the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics, so it itself is wrong. Not knocking your point, just spreadin knowledge =]

Thank you, Schyler. The vast majority of people I see making reference to Shrodinger's cat are actually using it as, like, a serious argument, not realizing that it was actually a satire.

When investigators show up at a crime scene where there's a murdered person, they begin determining how long the person has been dead. The do not say "until we found him here, he was neither dead nor alive".


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