In today’s interview we listen to sounds we wouldn’t normally hear—such as tadpoles ‘munching’ on a hydrophone or sand moving like an avalanche on a dune. Acoustic engineer Trevor Cox's new book is called The Sound Book: The Science of the Sonic Wonders of the World. Here Cox explains thunder:
What’s amazing about thunder is when you hear it, it’s actually got that crack and then it’s got the rumble afterwards. As a kid, when you drew thunderstorms you would’ve drawn the lightning with that jagged line. If you didn’t have that jagged line, you wouldn’t have the rumble of the thunder.
… The visual look of lightning is really crucial to how the thunder sounds. … Each little kink is actually generating the sound, and … the sound takes different time to come from different kinks because they’re all slightly different distances from you. That’s the reason you get that very distinct rumble sound.
We’ve got some sounds from the interview here
Chicago’s Sears Tower backlit by multiple bolts of lightning. The picture was taken August 4, 2008, during the severe thunderstorm that spawned several tornadoes in the Chicago area.