|ultrasound (ŭl'trə-sound') Pronunciation Key
ultrasonic adjective (ŭl'trə-sŏn'ĭk)
Our Living Language : Many people use simple ultrasound generators. Dog whistles, for example, produce tones that dogs can hear but that are too high to be heard by humans. sound whose frequency is higher than the upper end of the normal range of human hearing (higher than about 20,000 hertz) is called ultrasound. (Sound at frequencies too low to be audible—about 20 hertz or lower—is called infrasound.) Medical ultrasound images, such as those of a fetus in the womb, are made by directing ultrasonic waves into the body, where they bounce off internal organs and other objects and are reflected back to a detector. Ultrasound imaging, also known as ultrasonography, is particularly useful in conditions such as pregnancy, when x-rays can be harmful. Because ultrasonic waves have very short wavelengths, they interact with very small objects and thus provide images with high resolution. For this reason ultrasound is also used in some microscopes. Ultrasound can also be used to focus large amounts of energy into very small spaces by aiming multiple ultrasonic beams in such a way that the waves are in phase at one precise location, making it possible, for example, to break up kidney stones without surgical incision and without disturbing surrounding tissue. Ultrasound's industrial uses include measuring thicknesses of materials, testing for structural defects, welding, and aquatic sonar.
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