# The 5 most devastating sounds ever

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You might have heard there is a physical limit to the level that a sound can reach. That is true, but only if we limit ourselves to undistorted propagation in air. What I will show you here, are the most impressive sounds witnessed by human kind.

First, let’s cover the basics quickly: sound levels are relative measurements, i.e. they compare a given sound pressure with a reference one. That reference is an internationally accepted standard, and is set at just 20 micro Pascal, an extremely feeble sound, that most of us could not hear.

## Scales: Linear vs Logarithmic

Let me also introduce linear and logarithmic scales.

When you add one gram of sugar to another gram of sugar, you get two grams of sugar. One ton plus three tons equals four tons. This is a linear scale.

In physics, we often deal with values which can vary by several orders of magnitude, like the intensity of light (think of a candle at a sling’s shot distance versus the blazing light of the Sun as seen from Mercury), radio signals or, you guessed it, sound levels.

In these cases it is more convenient to express them in a so-called logarithmic scale and in terms of decibels. The SI symbol is dB, which becomes dB(A) if we take into account the adjustment needed to mimic the human…

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