We Talk In Decibels

Noise is one of those things that we have to live with daily, be it the steady hum of the refrigerator, the whirring of the ceiling fan, or the constant barrage from the highway. 

But how do we measure these sounds? 

In 1924, the company Bell Telephone Laboratories invented a scale to measure sound intensity, or sound power. It was named after the inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell. 

The decibel is abbreviated as dB, and starts at zero, and today has many uses. 

For one, it helps to measure noise that can damage a human’s hearing, which as you might imagine is critically important to us. Something important to bear in mind is that extended exposure to sounds higher than 85 dB can cause hearing loss. Exposures up to 75 dB are generally safe for humans. 

On a smaller scale, it lets us understand what levels of noise can cause discomfort or be used as a measurement when procuring gadgets for our home. 

This page serves as a little information corner, as you will see several daily activities or machines and their corresponding noise levels. 

Some interesting facts about Sound

  • Fact 1

    The speed of sound is roughly 1,230 kilometres per hour, or 767 miles per hour. It is also known as Mach 1.

  • Fact 2

    You can break the sound barrier by cracking a whip. The loud noise created is due to the whip moving faster than sound!

  • Fact 3

    Human ears can pick up sounds up to a frequency of 20,000 Hz, while dogs can pick up sounds up to 45,000 Hz!

  • Fact 4

    There is no sound in space, as it requires a medium to pass through. However, as we know, space is simply vacuum.

  • Fact 5

    The loudest sound ever was created by an erupting volcano, Mount Krakatoa. It was heard at 50 different geographical locations around the world!

  • Fact 6

    Cows produce more milk when listening to music!

  • Fact 7

    Lions are not able to roar until they turn 2, and when they do, the sound produced can reach 114 dB, which is the same as a baby's cries!

  • Fact 8

    The quietest room in the world is found in Microsoft's headquarters, but it is closed to public. However, you can visit Orfield Labs in Minneapolis, which held the distinction before Microsoft. Sitting in such a quiet room can cause hallucinations and claustrophobia, so it is no surprise the longest anyone can sit in there is 45 minutes.

  • Fact 9

    Try this out: Read every letter in the alphabet without moving your tongue or lips. They will sound all the same!

  • Fact 10

    There was once the Swedish Navy detected sounds underwater. Their first suspicion was of the Russian Navy and their submarines, but it turned out to be fish farts!