bp's science: decibels (v.1)

The other day I was talking to Jess about how loud a train whistle is. I was bugged and using hyperbole, "That thing is 150 decibels I tell you!" I am learning that I like quiet, and train whistles are not quiet. But then I got to wondering, is 150 decibels even a lot? What does that even mean? Was my guess high or low? I didn't know.

Well, I got lucky. 150 decibels is A LOT. In fact, the take off of a spaceship rocket is 130 decibels and that is a dangerous level of sound for your ears.

Let's look at some other sound measurements. Keep in mind that a 10 decibel increase means that the sound has increased ten times in loudness.

- 0 decibels is a sound you can just barely hear (like a pin dropping)
- 10 decibels is a sound of someone whispering 16 feet away
- 80 decibels is a pneumatic drill 66 feet away (think road construction)
- 100 decibels is a rock concert (that's why you should use ear plugs at those things)
- 120 decibels is a jet taking off 330 feet away

So, I'd guess the train whistle I'm talking about is 90 decibels. It is loud! But I think that's the point.

Facts and figures from my valued volume of The Dorling Kindersley Visual Encyclopedia.

1 comment:

jo said...

I like your hyperbole. Sounded legit to me when I read it. But now that I've read this post, I can, when complaining to myself, make a more accurate calculation of how loud our neighbor is when she comes home in the middle of the night with her talk radio blasting. You've done me a favor. :)