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Loudest Possible Sound Created Underwater

Researchers have generated what could most likely be the loudest possible sound that can be created. Registering at 270 decibels, the sound was created by firing tiny jets of water through an x-ray laser.

Now, this is an interesting feat as we may not actually hear such a sound within normal circumstances. The only reason why it hit 270 dB was because they blasted the jets in water.

Oddly enough, in air, a sound can't get any higher than about 194 decibels and in water it's around 270. This is because sound is an example of something where the measurements break down at either end of the scale.

There is an upper limit to the sound that can be created through any medium. The reason is that, as sound travels, it breaks down the medium until the medium has reached its threshold and it can no longer produce a louder or more intense sound.

This is what happened when the researchers zapped micro-jets of water (between 14 and 30 micrometres in diameter) with an X-ray laser. When the short X-ray pulses hit the water it vaporized and generated a shockwave. This shockwave then traveled through the jet and formed copies of itself in a "shockwave train" made of alternating high and low pressure zones. In other words, a very loud underwater sound.

(Image credit: Linus Nylund/Unsplash)

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