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Why do objects whistle when falling? Like here.

  1. Mar 13, 2014 #1
    This is my first post but just as it says in the title I'm curious about the physics behind falling objects. Specifically if you could examine this video which despite the title is not actually graphic and school me on why we heard what we did, Thanks.


    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 13, 2014 #2
    Do you know what sound is? I don't mean "something we can hear", I mean, do you know how sound is produced and transmitted?
  4. Mar 13, 2014 #3


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    have a think about what would happen to the shape of the bullet after its impact/ricochet
    and how that shape may cause a whistling sound

  5. Mar 13, 2014 #4
    Alrighty, well sound in my mind are the vibrations that propagate through air, water, and solids. If the bullet was shot then I would assume when it hit the target it became deformed like so(http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-deformed-flattened-out-bullets-image28978371) and therefore less aerodynamic. I believe either that the bullet struck the iron so that the bullet vibrated at its resonate frequency or the bullet is now displacing a lot of air and it is merely the wind that we are hearing along with the Doppler effect.
  6. Mar 13, 2014 #5


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    you don't have to get as complicated as resonant freq or Doppler effects

    look at that deformed bullet 5th image along ... see all the ragged edges/bits curled out
    The air is literally going to create a whistling sound as it moves through the gaps

    similar to when you blow air through your slightly opened lips to whistle or blow air across an open top of a bottle etc

    I really don't think its any more complicated than that

  7. Mar 13, 2014 #6
    I do understand that we hear the whistling of air because of the edges but don't we hear sound come from the bullet vibrating itself too or is that negligent? I know its hard to tell it just being a video but how loud (dbs) do you imagine that the whistling itself to be, or can I calculate it someway? Thanks for you help.
  8. Mar 13, 2014 #7
    Yes, excellent.

    Yes, I heard the Doppler too.

    I actually don't know (about the bolding part). But I will do something an experimentalist might had done - I will run a frequency analysis of the sound :tongue2:. I'll post it here when I'm done. Oh, the wonders of internet...
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2014
  9. Mar 13, 2014 #8
    Ok, I'm done. I downloaded the clip, run a noise reduction on it and cut out the part where the bullet can be heard going through the Doppler shift. This part was approx. 0,75 seconds long. Here's the result of the analysis (dB on the y-axis, frequency on the x-axis):


    Now, regretfully I am a little too tired to think about this thing :smile:, but the frequency analysis shows basically frequency peaks which start at about 3200 Hz and end at about 800-900 Hz. I'm not sure what the 250 Hz peak is at the moment (i.e. if it is from the bullet). I can not give an approximation at the moment how loud the sound actually was (it depends on e.g. the microphone and recording level, and I'm also too tired to think clearly about it at the moment :biggrin:). Never mind, something for further discussion. I'll hopefully drop in here tomorrow.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2014
  10. Mar 13, 2014 #9
    The edges would contribute to the all the frequencies heard, but have you also ever heard the sound of a bullet ricochet off a rock in the cowboy western movies. Being deformed, the bullet will now tumble in a chaotic fashion ( using chaotic here to mean you would have a difficult time determining how the bullet will be spinning ). The tumbling will produce a sound at a certain frequency and then add in all the other sounds from the jagged edges.
  11. Mar 14, 2014 #10
    Nice answers thanks for the help all.
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