Tag Archive: Popular Mechanics

Protesting? Take a mask—AND hearing protection!

Photo credit: Z22 licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

by David M. Sykes, Vice Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Been to a protest rally recently? You may have seen a cop car with a 2ft x 2ft box on the roof….What is it? Likely, it’s a long-range acoustical device, or LRAD, that emits an unbearable and ear-damaging signal intended to induce panic and temporary incapacity. First developed for the military, these devices are now in use by police in some cities to “control”/incapacitate protesters. Lynne Peskoe-Yang, in Popular Mechanics‘ weapons column, wrote an excellent summary of the subject that you should read and circulate to your friends and acquaintances.

Along with tear gas, tasers, flash-bang grenades and rubber bullets, LRADs are serious weapons—sonic weapons—that you need to prepare for because damage to your hearing will be permanent.

How damaging are LRADs? They can inflict serious pain, destroy your hearing, and leave you with permanent hearing damage. But police have been told they’re “harmless.” So expect indiscriminate use.

So be sure to wear or carry good earplugs AND earmuffs when you hit the street to join a protest march or rally. Once your hearing is gone, there’s no way to get it back. And the 16 million Americans who have tinnitus and/or hyperacusis can attest that hearing damage can be very, very painful and disabling.

David Sykes chairs several professional organizations in acoustical science: QCI Healthcare Acoustics Project, ANSI Committee S12-WG44, the Rothschild Foundation Task Force on Acoustics, and the FGI Acoustics Committee. He is lead author of “Sound & Vibration 2.0” (Springer, 2012), a contributor to the NAE’s “Technology for a Quieter America” and the GSA’s “Sound Matters,” and co-founded the Laboratory for Advanced Research in Acoustics at Rensselaer Polytech. A graduate of UC-Berkeley with advanced degrees from Cornell, he is a frequent organizer of professional conferences in the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Popular Mechanics reviews quiet, electric mowers

Photo credit: MonikaP from Pixabay

by David M. Sykes, Vice Chair, The Quiet Coalition

Heres’ some good news: Popular Mechanics magazine has published a review of quieter, battery-powered electric lawn mowers. The bad news is they didn’t measure their noise levels! How bizarre is that? Consumer Reports also tests lawn maintenance equipment, so you may want to check there too.

In the EU, manufacturers are required to test the noise levels of over 50 classes of products, including household appliances and construction equipment. So if you’re concerned about noise levels, look for European-made equipment because the manufacturers can tell you exactly how loud their products are–they’re required to do this following standardized procedures.

The difference in the american and European approaces are discussed in the 2011 report from the National Academy of Engineering, “Technology for a Quieter America. TLDR: The Europeans have a big head start on us.

David Sykes chairs several professional organizations in acoustical science: QCI Healthcare Acoustics Project, ANSI Committee S12-WG44, the Rothschild Foundation Task Force on Acoustics, and the FGI Acoustics Committee. He is lead author of “Sound & Vibration 2.0” (Springer, 2012), a contributor to the NAE’s “Technology for a Quieter America” and the GSA’s “Sound Matters,” and co-founded the Laboratory for Advanced Research in Acoustics at Rensselaer Polytech. A graduate of UC-Berkeley with advanced degrees from Cornell, he is a frequent organizer of professional conferences in the U.S., Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Whales talking on new frequency due to ocean noise

Photo credit: NOAA Photo Library (public domain)

Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, reports that “[n]ew research suggests that blue whales are changing their communication band due to noise from human ships.” Thompson writes that noise from ocean liners and large container ships can travel for miles below the waves, disturbing animals like whales and dolphins. Researchers from from Oregon State University are finding that blue whales are learning to adapt to the noise by changing the frequency with which they communicate, and they “believe that the whales are doing this deliberately to avoid interference from human sounds.” Of course, the scientists aren’t completely sure, but as shipping companies move to using quieter electric ships, they will be able to see if the whales go back to their former frequencies.

And it’s not just whales and dolphins that are reacting to ocean noise. Researchers at Newcastle University have discovered that “European sea bass experienced higher stress levels when exposed to the types of piling and drilling sounds made during the construction of offshore structures.”

It’s long past time that humans start considering the harmful effects our noisy existences are having on each other and every other living thing on this planet.

 

More of this, please:

A New Breed of Impact Drivers Cuts the Noise in Half.  Remember when a cordless drill was the best thing ever?  Apparently impact drivers are the new best thing, offering the “most torque and power for fastening bolts and driving screws.”  The price to be paid for that power is noise, which is not unlike a mini-jackhammer.   Fortunately, some manufacturers realized that noise was a deterrent for at least some buyers, and they have designed impact drivers that promise to deliver the power with less than half the noise.

We aren’t going to run out and buy an impact driver soon, but it is exciting to see that manufacturers recognize that noise is a problem and that reducing noise is a selling point.  Yes, yes it is.  Let’s encourage this behavior.  When you’re buying new appliances or equipment, check to see if the manufacturer posts a decibel rating on the box or promotional materials.  If not, contact the manufacturer and ask if they will provide it to you.  Finally, ask your preferred retailer whether they offer quieter versions of whatever you are looking for.  If we ask for it, they will build it.