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A Skipped Stone on a Frozen Lake Sounds Like Lasers

Ah, the little things. A great cup of coffee, perfect change at the drive-through, gleefully figuring out that skipping a stone on a frozen lake makes a laser sound…

YouTuber Cory Williams lives in Alaska and likes to make videos about his experiences. In a recent video entitled “COOLEST SOUND EVER,” he ventures to a frozen lake and discovers, yes, a pretty cool sound:

Aside from the joy of discovering something unexpected, what is going on here? Well, you might expect cracking ice to sound more like a “thunk” kind of noise, but when ice snaps, it indeed produces something that sounds like a bird call/laser mash-up. It’s all about how the sound waves travel through a medium.

Listen to this amazing recording of ice cracking recorded by Andreas Bick. It sounds like a Star Wars dogfight. A composer and sound artist based in Berlin, Germany, Bick figures that the ice makes the noise that is does because it is acting like a huge, frigid drumhead. And thin ice — like the ice Williams skipped a stone on — might even be better for this effect. Bick explains on his blog:

In my experience, thin ice is especially interesting for acoustic phenomena; it is more elastic and sounds are propagated better across the surface. Snowfall, on the other hand, has a muffling effect and the sound can only travel to a limited extent. The ice sheet acts as a huge membrane across which the cracking and popping sounds spread.

Of course, we can’t all live in Alaska, land of laser-sounding lakes. If you want to make your own laser sounds at home (that sound even more like a blaster), all you need is a slinky and a microphone:

I know what I’m trying this winter <scrambles giddily around for rocks>.

Image: LiveEachDay

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  1. Luke says:

    I think is was awsome they should have used those sounds in Star Wars lol

  2. Alana says:

    when I was a kid we had aluminum ice trays and sometimes the ice would squeak a bit like that.

  3. asfasf says:

    have you ever been so excited that you farted? 4:37

  4. LAB says:

    Man, I wish I got that excited over something. It’s kinda awesome.  8^)

  5. Mike says:

    Anyone who grew up in New England did this 1 million times as a kid.  And I know its Alaska.  Cool sound, though.    

  6. Orionsangel says:

    Did he fart at 4:37?

  7. Thomas says:

    Welcome to New England…