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Researchers Manage To Produce The Loudest Possible Underwater Sound

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American researchers have artificially produced a record-breaking underwater noise that is said to be louder than a jet plane taking off or a rocket launch.

The team from the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (operated by Stanford University), in a paper, recorded the sound at 270 decibels. They believe that the experiment yielded the loudest possible sound that could ever be produced underwater.

"It is just below the threshold where [the sound] would boil the water in a single wave oscillation," shared Claudiu Stan, the lead researcher of the study, to Physics Buzz. They published their findings in the recent issue of the American Physical Society's Physical Review Fluids.

Extremely Loud Sound Produced Underwater

To achieve the incredible feat, the team used the Linac Coherent Light Source, or LCLS — SLAC's incredibly powerful X-ray laser that has previously created molecular black holes and heat water to 100,000 degrees Celsius within less than a millionth of a second. The team blasted tiny jets of liquid water with short powerful X-rays.

They observed that, when an X-ray laser hit the jet, it vaporizes the water, producing a shockwave. As the shockwave travels through the jet, it creates copies of itself, forming what they called a "shockwave train" that alternates between high and low pressures.

Once the intensity of the sound crosses a certain threshold, the water breaks apart into vapor-filled bubbles.

The researchers added that the pressure created by the shockwaves is "just below the breaking point," suggesting that they have reached the limit of how loud an underwater sound can be produced.

"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 researchers wrote in the study.

Other Applications

The researchers believe that the study can offer better understanding of the conditions in which a train form, allowing for the development of new techniques that can prevent damage in miniature samples. They claim that the findings could advance research in other fields, including biology, and perhaps lead to the creation of more effective drugs.

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