Propagation of sound over water

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Alicia Coors

I have read Mr. Wilkinson's essay, and I wonder if his analysis is consistent with the experience of the resident mariners. I'm sure I've heard a foghorn of a ship on the horizon, and Lawrence Beesley wrote that he could hear Carpathia's rockets as if they were distant cannon fire at a time when she was just barely visible.
May 12, 2002
Hi Alicia

Thanks for reading my article. The point I was trying to make was that the unusual conditions that night actually made the sound die off faster than one would expect. The fact that the sea was so flat is what caused the Lloyd's mirror effect. If the sea was in any way rough, this effect would have been very small indeed. I have a physics background, and I've seen many off the cuff remarks about how far the sound of the rockets would travel. I'd done the calculations for my own interest, so I thought I'd write them up for the board. As I mentioned in the article, there are many effects that can't be included as there's no data on them (eg temperature gradients and air convection). But I think the conclusion is valid.

From what I've read, there's a general weight of opinion that the sound wouldn't travel too far. There's a quote in "The ship that stood still" from a mariner who said something like "Heaven help them if they had to rely on the sound of the rockets to save them" (from memory).


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