Category: sound

  • Why is the sound of the vuvuzela so annoying

    There are newspaper reports today that the  vuvuzelas might be banned because their drone is annoying viewers of the World Cup. Why is the noise so annoying? The trumpets are incredibly loud (there have been reports of concern about hearing damage).  Studies on noise annoyance show that louder sounds are more annoying. We are all […]

  • Igloo acoustics

    Manchester has completely ground to a halt with heavy snowfall. Yesterday, my children and their friends built an impressive igloo from compacted snow bricks. I crawled into it this morning and was struck by the sound of my voice inside. Normally in a small room your voice gets enhanced by the sound bouncing around the […]

  • Musical saws and harmonics

    In my last post on musical saw’s I wrote: “The tone of the saw is unlike conventional instruments, it’s very clear and pure. This happens because the instrument makes very few higher harmonics to add colour to the sound.” which prompted a comment: “I would say that on the saw the overtones are vivid and […]

  • The physics of musical saws

    Someone I know has just been given a musical saw as a Christmas present. A few years back, a colleague mentioned that musical saws are scientifically really interesting. So I’ve spent a little time this morning reading scientific papers with exciting titles such as “Vibration of an Elastic Strip with Varying Curvature” [1]. [youtube=] As […]

  • Navigating by chimes – Where the doors go Ping!

    On the Ning Nang Nong Where the Platforms go Bong! And the Escalators all say Boo! There’s a Nong Nang Ning Where the doors go Ping! And the lift doors Jibber Jabber Joo … * A few years back I was lucky enough to visit Japan. One of my lasting sound memories was the strange […]

  • Pyramids and chirps

    I’m starting to gather examples of curious acoustic effects – and the sound of the El Castillo pyramid in Mexico is a really good example. An article [1] on this has just appeared in an academic journal I help edit. Apparently, if you sit at the bottom of the steps you think you hear rain […]

  • Laughing Rats

    Heard a great radio programme which included the sound of laughing rats. Some scientists are claiming that if you tickle a rat it giggles. Before you rush to tickle a pet rat, it’s worth knowing that the sounds aren’t audible to humans. (Unless you have a bat detector or some other piece of specialist measurement […]