Home / Science / Ice Dropped Down a 450-Foot Hole Sounds Just Like a Space Laser Battle

Ice Dropped Down a 450-Foot Hole Sounds Just Like a Space Laser Battle

Ice Core Sound John Andrew Higgins:

Stock Photos from I. Noyan Yilmaz/Shutterstock

Princeton University researchers are currently in the Antarctic, drilling holes hundreds of feet deep in order to learn more about climate change. The team has been extracting ice cores that are thousands (and even millions) of years old to provide information on Earth’s climate from all that time. While the team is carrying out important research, they’re also making time to have a little fun. Geochemist John Andrew Higgins recently shared a video on Twitter, revealing the surprising sound ice makes when it’s dropped down a 450-foot (137-meter) hole.

You might expect to hear thunks and thuds, but Higgins’ video reveals an entirely unexpected sound. As the block of ice falls further into the abyss, it sounds like an intergalactic laser gun battle is happening far below, with high-pitched “pew pews!” pinging loudly. Higgin’s was inspired by fellow researcher Dr. Peter Neff at the University of Washington. He had the idea of dropping the ice down a 295-feet-deep (90-meter-deep) borehole in 2018, and shared a similar, now-viral video.

The strange sound is the result of a phenomenon known as the “Doppler Effect.” Sound waves compress as they get closer and stretch out when they get further away, lowering the frequency and pitch. “When the ice hits the bottom of the borehole, the sound doesn’t only come straight up—the sound waves start to bounce off the sides of the hole,” explains Neff in a video. “That’s why you hear this ‘pew!’”

Geochemist John Andrew Higgins recently shared a video on Twitter, revealing the surprising sound ice makes when it’s dropped down a 450-foot hole.

Fellow researcher Peter Neff shares why this strange sound occurs.

John Andrew Higgins: Twitter
h/t: [IFLScience!]

All photos via John Andrew Higgins.

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Emma Taggart

Emma Taggart is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. Originally from Northern Ireland, she is an artist now based in Berlin. After graduating with a BA in Fashion and Textile Design in 2013, Emma decided to combine her love of art with her passion for writing. Emma has contributed to various art and culture publications, with an aim to promote and share the work of inspiring modern creatives. While she writes every day, she’s also devoted to her own creative outlet—Emma hand-draws illustrations and is currently learning 2D animation.

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