# What does a space explosion sound like if you are physically connected to it?May 9, 2011 3:41 PM   Subscribe

What would an explosion sound like on the moon? Thought-experiment filter.

I know that no sound would pass through the (relative) vacuum that is the lunar atmosphere, but would something resembling sound be audible having passed through the lunar surface, into my boots and up my suit to my ears?
posted by dougrayrankin to Science & Nature (6 answers total)

Shock Waves in Space

Any astronauts in the vicinity would get hit by some fraction of the gas/debris, and would absorb essentially all of that fraction's energy. If they were close, they would absorb a significant fraction of the total energy of the explosion. If they were far away, they would absorb only a small fraction. (If you divide the area of the astronaut's silhouette by the area of a sphere whose radius is the distance from the explosion to the astronaut, you will have the fraction of the explosion's energy absorbed by the astronaut.)
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:56 PM on May 9, 2011

but would something resembling sound be audible having passed through the lunar surface, into my boots and up my suit to my ears?

Yes. Pilots flying planes faster than the speed of sound can still hear their engines, because vibrations travel faster through solids than gases.

If we're standing side-by-side on the moon, and I stomp my feet, you can "hear" it as vibrations.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:00 PM on May 9, 2011

You know how you can hear the bass from a car with a giant stereo as it passes by you? It would sound something like that.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:01 PM on May 9, 2011

Response by poster: Yeah I'm trying to discern in my mind between that which I hear as sound through the air and that which I hear through the ground - that is... if you've ever been overflown by an old WWII fighter, that engine is so powerful you'll feel it in your chest, but again that vibration comes to you through the air. How different is it if it has to make its way through the toe bone (which is connected to the foot bone) and so on?
posted by dougrayrankin at 4:09 PM on May 9, 2011

Evelyn Glennie shows how to listen

In this soaring demonstration, deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie illustrates how listening to music involves much more than simply letting sound waves hit your eardrums.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:09 PM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Pilots flying planes faster than the speed of sound can still hear their engines, because vibrations travel faster through solids than gases.

True, but irrelevant.

The solids in question (the body of the plane) are at rest with respect to the pilot, as is the air in the cockpit, and the pilot would hear any sounds going through them (eventually) if they were only traveling a millimeter per second instead of hundreds of meters.

Another way you could conceivably hear an explosion on the Moon is over your suit radio. Explosions produce ions and accelerate them, which is what you need for radio waves.
posted by jamjam at 5:23 PM on May 9, 2011

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