The frozen continent Antarctica is known for its vast area of ice and bone-chilling cold. It is in these freezing temperatures where some scientist goes to drill holes on to the surface and study more about our planet’s ancient history.
Some of those scientists have found a weird pass time – dropping ice down on deep holes to listen to the sound they make. While it might feel odd, a video shot by isotope geochemist John Andrew Higgins shows us how satisfying the experience can be. Higgins posted the video in his twitter handle last week.
What does a 9 inch ice core sound like when dropped down a 450 foot hole? Like this! Credit to @peter_neff for the idea and @Scripps_Polar, @sciencejenna, @GeosciencesPU, @US_IceDrilling, and @paleosurface for the execution! pic.twitter.com/pW7LxKdbUB
— John Andrew Higgins (@blueicehiggins) February 7, 2020
Did you hear the “pew” sound the ice makes? As satisfying it is, there is a little bit science that goes behind the sound. The trend of dropping ice into holes started in 2018 when glaciologist Peter Neff recorded a piece of ice falling down a 90-metre borehole.
Happy hump day. pic.twitter.com/dQtLPWQi7T
— Peter Neff (@peter_neff) February 28, 2018
According to Neff the sound is produced by two factors – the Doppler effect and the way sound waves move throughout the hole. We all experience doppler effect in our daily lives as we listen to the sound of an approaching or a leaving car. You might have noticed that the sound of the horn changes in both the cases.
But in this case along with the doppler effect, the fact that sound waves have a hard time getting out of the holes distorts the sound to what we hear as a “pew”. A part of the sound wave gets back straight up through the hole and the remaining comes back after bouncing off the walls multiple times.
While the “pew” sound and “Doppler effect” are all interesting. It is also good to know that scientists are not forgetting to have fun even in the cold.
— Peter Neff (@peter_neff) February 8, 2020