Scientists create the loudest underwater sound EVER: Record-breaking 270 decibels is same as two jet engines taking off
- Department of Energy made the discovery by effectively tasering jets of water
- This caused the water to vaporize and cumulatively create a ‘shockwave train’
- Made up of alternating high and low pressure zones, this manifested as sound
- For context, the underwater noise was twice as loud as a jet engine taking off
American scientists have artificially created the loudest-possible underwater sound.
It was recorded at 270 decibels – the equivalent of two jet engines taking off and created by effectively tasering micro-jets of water with a powerful x-ray laser.
This caused them to vaporise and form ‘shockwave trains’ that alternated between high and low pressures, which eventually produced a sonic boom.
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After blasting tiny jets of water with an X-ray laser, researchers watched left- and right-moving trains of shockwaves travel away from microbubble filled regions (pictured)
Stanford’s Department of Energy worked with researchers from Rutgers University to produce the record-breaking result.
The result was so loud that it reached the brink of what’s scientifically possible under water, according to the team responsible.
‘It is just below the threshold where [the sound] would boil the water in a single wave oscillation,’ Dr Claudiu Stan, one of the study’s authors, told PhysicsBuzz.
In fact, if they’d tried to go any louder, they would’ve failed.
This is because the medium which sound travels through starts to break down at the maximum point, so resulting sound can’t get any louder.
Technically, this is a process called cavitation and is similarly seen in heat. Eventually, the atoms of a material break down and there’s no more heat to produce.
Sub-aquatic: The team achieved their result by effectively tasering micro-jets of water with a powerful x-ray laser, causing them to vaporise into shockwaves which produced the sound
HOW DID SCIENTISTS CREATE THE LOUDEST UNDERWATER NOISE?
Scientists made the discovery by zapping jets of water with an x-ray laser called the Linac Coherent Light Source.
This caused the water to vaporise and produce shockwaves,
As these travelled, they formed a ‘shockwave train’.
This alternated between high and low pressures, which eventually produced the sonic boom.
The 270dB limit is created because the medium – the water – would break down if it was any more powerful and stop the sound from being produced.
‘The amplitudes and intensities were limited by the wave destroying its own propagation medium though cavitation, and therefore these ultrasonic waves in jets are one of the most intense propagating sounds that can be generated in liquid water,’ the researchers explain in their paper.
‘We estimate that the amplitudes of these pressure waves exceed the largest peak-to-peak pressures obtained with focused ultrasonic waves, and may thus be the highest intensity sounds generated to date in liquid water.’
The instrument they used for this test was the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS).
Billed as ‘a revolutionary new tool changing how scientists study the world of molecules and atoms’, it has the power to create molecular black holes in a millionth of a second.
The findings were published in the journal Physical Review Fluids.