Sonic Booms

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A sonic boom is created by a fascinating process. This report will show how a sonic boom is caused. It will also define what a sonic boom is.

A sonic boom is a loud noise similar to thunder ("USAF Fact Sheet"). A sonic boom is usually caused by an airplane flying very fast (Griffy 593). It can also be caused by a space shuttle or even a car (Griffy 593). Sonic booms are also called shock waves (Stambler 124). An object reaching the speed of sound is said to be crossing the sound barrier (Griffy 593). The sound barrier is broken at 750 miles per hour, but the sound barrier speed changes with altitude and temperature (Stambler 122). A sonic boom can be so loud it can cause damage to houses, but it can not hurt people (Stambler 123).

Since the sound barrier has been broken, people are able to go into outer space (Stambler 123).

Sonic booms are created by air pressure ("NASA Facts"). When an object passes by, the molecules have to get rid of extra energy so they expand (Stambler 124). When you are going faster than the sound barrier they expand more quickly, therefore, they cause a sonic boom (Stambler 124). Molecules can actually be seen moving around an object when it is going faster than the speed of sound (Stambler 124). When the molecules move around the object that is called dynamic pressure (Stambler 123).

An airplane has two sonic booms because of the front and tail (Giancoli 335).

Most of the time no one can tell there are two booms instead of one ("NASA Facts").

The interval between the two booms is about one tenth of a second at sea level ("NASA Facts"). The interval changes however depending on altitude ("NASA Facts").

Breaking the sound barrier is based on high mach flight (Stambler 123). Mach flight is a way of measuring very fast speeds (Stambler 123). The higher the mach number the faster the speed (Stambler 123). A mach five would be faster than a mach three (Stambler 123).

Several factors can change the sonic booms, such as weather, shape of object, size, weight, and if a plane also altitude ("NASA Facts"). It can also change with temperature (Stambler 123). The heavier an object the stronger the shock waves will be ("NASA Facts"). The lower the altitude of a plane the more intense it will become("Sonic Boom"). The sharper the shock waves the greater the boom energy (Stambler 126).

The sound barrier got it's name by breaking apart airplanes (Holmes). A long time ago scientist feared the sound barrier (Stambler 122). Many experts thought no vechile could break the sound barrier without falling apart (Stambler 122). "People think when you go thorough the sound barrier, it makes this loud boom, that's not true though" (Holmes). "It makes more of a bellow" (Holmes). Why would anyone want to go faster than the speed of sound, some ask? (Holmes). It's more expensive, takes a lot of fuel, but "you go faster" (Holmes).

One example of a plane that can break the sound barrier is the blackbird (Brown).

Once it flew from Los Angeles to Washington with a double sonic boom following right behind it (Brown). By the 1950's man had gone over twenty-five thousand miles per hour, that's thirty-three times the speed of sound! (Stambler 122). Normally the sound barrier is broke by military aircraft (Stambler 126). Many experts thought no object could break the sound barrier without falling apart (Stambler 126). The experts however were proved wrong when Charles E. Yeager was the first person to break the sound barrier (Griffy 593). He did it in a Bell X-1 Rocket Plane on October 14, 1947(Griffy 593).

It took human race a long time to figure out what a sonic boom is and how they are caused. Until 1947 anyone that surpassed the sound barrier was killed. There are many new and exciting things that are out there waiting to be discovered. Mankind can not imagine what the future will bring.