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Author Topic: Waterfall question  (Read 1936 times)
LyricFox
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« Topic Start: January 05, 2009, 09:35:47 pm »

So I'm washing my face tonight and I was wondering: why it is if you are on the "outside" of a waterfall it's noisy and you can't hear, but if you go behind it, it's quiet and you can hear. Anyone know?

(And yes. I've actually wondered about this off and on over the years but was too lazy to ask the question.  Roll Eyes )
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Lykaios
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« Reply #1: January 06, 2009, 02:56:14 am »

So I'm washing my face tonight and I was wondering: why it is if you are on the "outside" of a waterfall it's noisy and you can't hear, but if you go behind it, it's quiet and you can hear. Anyone know?

(And yes. I've actually wondered about this off and on over the years but was too lazy to ask the question.  Roll Eyes )

I don't actually know, but I have a theory...and I'll have you know I went into my bathroom and turned my shower on and off several times to come up with an answer to this question. (When in doubt, test a scale model to see how things work...can you tell my kindergarten class is in science lab this month?  Wink)

I noticed that the falling water itself doesn't seem to make any noise, it's the water hitting the bath tub which makes the sound. Whenever I have been behind a waterfall, I've been in a cave. So using those two observations, I propose this: Maybe, from in front of the waterfall you hear more because there is less material between you and the source of the sound. There is only open air between your ears and the sound waves produced by the water striking the bottom of the falls. When you're in in the cave, there is a lot of rock which could absorb those sound waves, kind of like how the acoustic walling in a theater protects you from the sounds of the theater next to yours.

Just a theory.  Smiley
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« Reply #2: January 06, 2009, 07:50:20 am »

So I'm washing my face tonight and I was wondering: why it is if you are on the "outside" of a waterfall it's noisy and you can't hear, but if you go behind it, it's quiet and you can hear. Anyone know?

(And yes. I've actually wondered about this off and on over the years but was too lazy to ask the question.  Roll Eyes )

Trust me - go into Cave of the Winds behind Niagara Falls, and it's loud as hell.
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« Reply #3: January 06, 2009, 08:32:48 am »

I don't actually know, but I have a theory...and I'll have you know I went into my bathroom and turned my shower on and off several times to

I think you're on the right track, but I think it's the water itself that insulates against the sound.  The water on the outside of the waterfall is what's really crashing.  When you're on the inside, you've got the thickness of the water to protect from the sound.  Plus, you're kind of surrounded by the water, so you're insulated from it. 

I dunno....
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LyricFox
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« Reply #4: January 06, 2009, 11:23:36 am »

Trust me - go into Cave of the Winds behind Niagara Falls, and it's loud as hell.

Then it sounds like that would be more of an exception than the rule. I know every time I've ever read anything involving a waterfall, it was quiet on the inside and noisy on the outside. Now I wonder not only about that, but why it doesn't hold true in all cases. I wonder if it's the composition of the rock behind it or the shape or both or something else? Hmmmmmm....
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« Reply #5: January 06, 2009, 03:03:29 pm »

I think you're on the right track, but I think it's the water itself that insulates against the sound.  The water on the outside of the waterfall is what's really crashing.  When you're on the inside, you've got the thickness of the water to protect from the sound.  Plus, you're kind of surrounded by the water, so you're insulated from it. 

I dunno....

Plus, the water is moving and would carry away any sound waves that entered it, the same way that a high wind does.
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LyricFox
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« Reply #6: January 06, 2009, 03:23:02 pm »

Plus, the water is moving and would carry away any sound waves that entered it, the same way that a high wind does.

I think that was Randall's guess, too.
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