Everyone loves a bit of sightseeing whether your abroad or exploring the UK with its scenic countryside and landmarks. Whilst you are there enjoying the vista, have you ever thought about the sounds? Everyone misses the sounds but you shouldn’t, as its one of our five senses!!! Getting a standing ovation wouldn’t been worthwhile if no one clapped for you or it wouldn’t be worth your time if you sat there watching a blockbuster film without any sound.
If you’re visiting the UK or just want to explore the UK for its sounds here are a few places you need to visit just for the sound…
The Whispering Gallery at St Pauls’ Cathedral (London)
This building was designed by Sir Christopher Wren so that a whisper can travel around a wall.
Once you’re there stand by one side of the dome, with a friend standing on another side. Tell them to whisper into the wall and the sound will skim around the curvature of the wall and you will be able to clearly hear what your friend said.
This strange feature is down to the slight curve of the walls. By tilting the walls inwards at the top, less sound goes upwards and gets lost to the top of the dome.
But like most whispering galleries, this magical property is an accidental by-product of the architectural design.
Wormit Water Reservoir (Dundee)
Built in 1923 for the anticipated growth of the population is a vast concrete box about 200ft (60m) long, 100ft (30m) wide and 16ft (5m) high. It has a forest of concrete pillars regularly spaced about 23ft (7m) apart holding up the concrete ceiling. But as you talk the acoustics immediately reveals itself as a rumble builds up and hangs around like smog.
In Wormit the room is very large so the time between reflections is very long because every time it reflects from a wall a little bit of energy is lost. The concrete walls are almost impervious to sound and so not much energy is lost each time the sound bounces off the walls. This is why it takes some time to die away.
Greenwich Foot Tunnel (London)
This is another interesting place because of its location and what it does to the sound once you are there.
The foot tunnel under the Thames is a very interesting place as the sound waves bounce back and forth across the width of the 370m tunnel; distorting voices using the same physics which make some people think they can sing well in a shower stall.
Ham Wall (Glastonbury)
Ham Wall is just west of Glastonbury and is home to a number of interesting birds called “Bitterns”. Bitterns are a wading bird, a type of heron which makes a bass sound which can carryfor many kms over the reeds beds where they live. They are shy and secretive creatures with their brown plumage blend which camouflages them perfectly into the reed habitat and only a handful of breeding pairs remain in Britain.
They produce a sound like a distant fog horn but like that horn it’s very powerful at 101 decibels at 1m. The sound is produced when a bittern’s throat swells up and the body convulses as the air is gulped in.
The sound is used by the males before mating; it is assumed the females use the loudness of the boom to assess the fitness of the competing males.
The strange sound could also be a form of defence, with the males also booming during nesting, suggesting it is also used to guard feeding territories.