Physics trivia

Breaking the sound barrier

When an object exceeds the speed of sound, we say that the sound barrier has been broken. The effects of this are shock waves and an intense boom.

The sound barrier is said to have been breached when an object exceeds the speed of sound in air, which is approximately 1224 km/h (340 m/s). Upon reaching such speed, the object tramples the sound waves generated by itself. The effect is a large shock wave, which causes a loud bang .

supersonic planes

When the so-called supersonic planes reach the speed of sound, we say that the aircraft flies at “Mach 1”, a unit that indicates that the flight is performed at the speed of sound waves. As the aircraft is accelerated, it can reach higher speed values ​​called Mach 2, Mach 3, etc., which are multiples of Mach 1 speed.

By traveling faster than sound , the aircraft compresses the air around it, dramatically increasing pressure . This generates a shock wave, which can be felt by a potential observer on the ground. This observer first sees the passing aircraft and then hears the noise it causes. The sound arrives later, as the sound source has a higher velocity.

The shock wave generated by the passage of a supersonic plane was so intense that it shattered the windows of the Federal Supreme Court (STF). The passage of Mirage 2000 aircraft of the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) took place in commemoration of the exchange of the flag at Praça dos Três Poderes, in July 2012.

Breaking the sound barrier with your own body

In October 2012, Austrian Felix Baumgartner free -falled from the stratosphere after being carried by a balloon to a height of approximately 36 km. In the fall, which lasted 4 minutes and 20 seconds, the skydiver reached a speed of 373 m/s, becoming the first person to break the sound barrier with his own body.

In October 2014, Alan Eustace, an executive at Google, climbed 41 km high, remaining in freefall for about 4 minutes and 30 seconds. Eustace also broke the sound barrier with his own body.


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