Think of the loudest concert you’ve ever been to. Remember the thud in your chest from the subwoofer? The ringing in your ears afterwards?
That’s nothing. A team of European scientists have got it trumped, and now matter how flash you think your music set-up might be, these researchers have it beaten.
Picture a a giant speaker system, capable of blasting 400,000 watts of amplified sound, which is enough to actually kill a human with the intensity of its volume, and it wouldn’t even need to be playing dubstep.
Introducing Leaf – the Large European Acoustic Facility, constructed by the European Space Agency (ESA), and as The Daily Mail reports, and it’s possibly the world’s loudest sound system.
By comparison, the human ear tends to sustain damage or hearing loss from any sound above 85 Decibels of noise, and begins to experience pain at around 120 dB. While the average 400,000 watt amplifier system used at an arena rock spectacle generates 135 dB.
The Leaf system is capable of producing more than 154 dB.
More than enough to produce a physically violent sonic boom and the equivalent of standing next to a squad of jet planes taking off at once.
Housed in the ESTEC Test centre, a bunker in the Netherlands, the enormous contraption shoots nitrogen through its enormous horn speaker and produces enough noise to permanently deafen anyone foolish enough to hear it. The ESA also claims that no human can survive listening to the sound produced when Leaf is turned up to its maximum volume.
In order to safely operate the potentially fatal sound system, scientists control the machine behind walls made of steel-reinforced concrete, one chamber housing Leaf is over 16 metres tall, 11 metres wide, and nine metres deep. Further soundproofing is achieved through epoxy resin coating used to reflect the amplified noise back into the reinforced chamber.
While it might be humorous to imagine that the ESA have constructed the speakers to annoy neighbours with intense levels of Iron Maiden or host a rave to soundtrack the entire continent of Europe, Leaf actually serves a serious purpose.
The 154 dB of noise Leaf creates is used as part its spaceflight simulation facilities, testing the sonic durability of satellites and spacecraft by blasting them with the same levels of noise a rocket makes as it launches off and into the atmosphere.
Still, you wouldn’t want to let that killer horn fall into the wrong hands – it wouldn’t be the first time that high voltage rock and roll has been used as a deadly weapon, just ask the poor workers at an Iranian nuclear facility that were subjected to AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’ at ear-deafening volume on repeat as part of a computer virus attack.
(Images: ESA. Source: http://www.esa.int/)