Thursday, May 21, 2020

IAF plane caused Bengaluru sonic boom. But loudest ever sound on Earth had nothing to do with a flying machine

Residents of Bengaluru, who are still trying to figure what lockdown 4.0 means for them, were distracted on Wednesday afternoon by an unusual sound that rattled windowpanes and triggered memes and conspiracy theories, with the more fanciful ones even bringing aliens into the picture.

Confirmation that it was, in fact, a sonic boom caused by an Indian Air Force (IAF) jet came late in the evening. Putting all speculation to rest, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it was a “routine IAF Test Flight involving a supersonic profile which took off from Bengaluru Airport and flew in the allotted airspace well outside City limits”.

The test flight was carried out by the IAF’s Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment which is based in Karnataka’s capital city.

“The sound of a sonic boom can be heard and felt by an observer even when the aircraft is flying as far away as 65 to 80 kilometres away from the person,” the MoD added on Twitter.

Sonic booms are not uncommon.

Simply put, they are shockwaves produced by planes or other objects that are flying at a speed equal to or greater than the speed of sound.

On the ground, a sonic boom sounds a bit like thunder or an explosion.
In December 2019, two Typhoon fighter aircraft caused a loud bang that was heard across large parts of London. “The loud bang heard throughout north London and surrounding areas was the result of a sonic boom from RAF planes. There is no cause for concern,” the Metropolitan police assured residents on Twitter.

But many natural phenomena – thunder and volcanic explosions for instance – can cause much louder sounds than the aircraft-triggered sonic booms.

In fact, the loudest sound recorded in history was way back in the 19th century – before humans invented flying machines.
It was a sound so monstrously loud that it is believed to have circled the Earth four times – and shattered the ears of sailors more than 60km away.

When the Krakatoa volcano erupted on 27 August 1883, it left behind a trail of death and destruction. And it let out a sound that has not been surpassed to this day.

The earth-shaking sound came from Krakatoa, an island in Dutch-ruled Indonesia, somewhere between Java and Sumatra.

It was heard more than 2,000 km away in India’s Andaman and Nicobar islands and more than 4,800 km away near Mauritius!

The blast from the eruption and the tsunamis it triggered led to more than 36,000 deaths, according to conservative estimates. Some Dutch sources from that era said the toll exceeded 1 lakh.
21/05/20 Sumeet Kaul/Times Now
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