All About Sonic Boom- An Analysis.

Essay by lucas_bHigh School, 11th gradeA, September 2005

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What is sonic boom? Sonic boom is an impulsive noise that sounds a lot like thunder. It is caused by an object moving faster than sound, about 750 miles per hour at sea level. An aircraft traveling through the atmosphere continuously produces air-pressure waves similar to the water waves caused by a ship's bow. When the aircraft exceeds the speed of sound, these pressure waves combine and form shock waves which travel forward from where it was created. When this shock wave passes, a listener at ground level hears (all at once) the sound emitted over a longer period of time. This is how this crazy phenomena got it's name. The strongest sonic boom ever emitted gave out 144 pounds per square foot after it reached ground level, which was so powerful that it shook the ground, sending people flying directly underneath it, but without injury. It also parted a shallow river for a split second.

(Source 2) However, the more realistic force from a normal sonic boom would be around 25 pounds psf, which is barely enough to shatter glass.

Many people have heard a sonic boom, but few have seen one. What accompanies the extremely intense sound explosion, is a diamond-shaped mist, or cloud, that forms around it. As a plane accelerates to just break the sound barrier, an unusual cloud forms. The origin of this cloud is still questioned. A widely-accepted theory is that a drop in air pressure occurs so that moist air condenses there to form water droplets. These in turn, form clouds, most likely diamond in shape. These clouds are extremely difficult to see, and appear for only about 100 milliseconds. (Source 1) The intensity of these atomic booms cannot be accurately predicted yet, but we know that the shape of the...