aatish bhatia

At 10:02 AM on August 27th, 1883, a volcanic island in modern day Indonesia called Krakatoa erupted. The blast sent shockwaves across the ocean, triggering tsunamis that destroyed the coast of Java and Sumatra. The sound was so loud it was heard 3000 miles away.

As Aatish Bhatia notes in this recent article:What we’re talking about here is like being in Boston and clearly hearing a noise coming from Dublin, Ireland.

Barometric readings at the time clocked the sound pressure at 172 decibels ONE HUNDRED MILES AWAY from the island.

Here’s a handy reference:

  • Using a jackhammer – 100 decibels
  • Human threshold for pain – 130 dB
  • Standing next to a jet engine – 150 dB

And the scale is logarithmic - so a 10 dB increase doubles the loudness.