MadSci Network: Physics

Re: What was the first thing to make a sonicboom? When? Where?

Date: Sun Oct 29 18:23:30 2000
Posted By: Savio Barretto, Staff, Aviation, Superior Aviation
Area of science: Physics
ID: 972187302.Ph


   A sonic boom is caused when a body goes faster than the speed of sound.
this speed can vary within a small range with temperature  of the air and 
the altitude that the body is at when this happens. 

   The first person to break the sound barrier that history gives credit 
to is Charles E Yager, also known as Chuck Yager.  The aircraft that he 
used was the Bell X-1.  The aircraft reached a speed of 700 mph 
(1127Kmph).  He named the aircraft "Glamorous Glennis", to honor his wife.

   The Russians may have had test aircraft break the sound barrier before 
the U.S., but in many cases the pilots of these machines did not survive.  
I guess that rules out those attempts.

   The most interesting and overlooked fact however comes form world war 
two.  One of Nazi Germany's secret weapons was the rocket bomb. There were 
two kinds: the V1 and the V2.  The V2 was in all essence a rocket with a 
bomb attached as payload.  Launched from Germany, they almost reached the 
edge of space when their engines would quit.  Then, on a predetermined 
path they wound begin to fall to earth, towards England.  The bomb  would 
then reach a speed where it would cross the sound barrier.  

   The residents of London would then suffer a thunderous explosion 
followed by the sonic boom.  For quite a while they thought that the 
Germans had some how managed to get explosives in to the city and were 
setting them off in the sewers.  Later the truth became known when these 
bombs began to rain down on Englan in the day time.

   More information on the Bell X-1 is at

Savio Barretto.

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