by Marka Acton

Sound Waves

I always enjoy watching the PBS series called NOVA.  They have a way of weaving all areas of science together through stories.  Recently I saw a program about the decommissioning of the Concorde. I have always wished I’d been a passenger on one of its transatlantic flights.  To cruise through the air at over 1300 mph, to break the sound barrier, to arrive in Great Brittan in a couple of hours…now a lost dream.

The program delved into the latest technology of high-speed passenger air travel. They have learned a lot about jet engines, affordable fuels, and how to decrease the sound bellow, which is the area impacted by the sonic boom.  

The show ended with the statement that Boeing is now developing a craft that will fly at 4xs the speed of sound.  What does the future hold that humans will need to one day travel around the planet at that speed? This is just a small step into something ever faster.  What is God’s plan? I certainly will not live long enough to know the answer.

NASA has been working for quite some time on how to tweek the sound bellow.  Now they can send most of the force upward while also creating a slower, gentler rolling sound.  Not as invasive as in the early years when the world was pelted with harsh doses of sound waves. We had yet to learn what that force was capable of.  Quite destructive and I suppose hard on those with heart conditions.

As a kid growing up close to Tinker Air Force Base, one could never get used to those moments of complete shock.  The noise could pierce you anywhere at any time. We’d be on the school playground or in the middle of a softball game.  All of a sudden……. BbbbbBOooOooOMMmmmm!!! The world would shake! There are firecrackers now that have a very loud BANG; but you have some expectation they could go off and can establish a reasonable distance.  You know from whence it comes. A sonic boom is very different, it simply was. It enveloped everything and everyone. Every molecule and even the light seemed to move, vibrate, within it.

All you could really feel was shock.  We were recipients of something big and powerful, that we could not avoid or protect ourselves from.  Every thought and emotion would simply dissipate as we just stopped to withstand the force. And yet, the reality was that the force had passed before we were even aware of it.

What surprised me in my remembering is something I think was natural to everyone.  That first thought that appears on your lips. And if it appeared on mine, the most disbelieving and unprayerful child ever, then it most likely was the unconscious thought that appeared in almost everyone’s mind.  As you stood there, completely empty of self, the words that came so naturally and unbidden and quite possibly a little irreverently …………….……….…………………. “Oh, God!”

It was a moment of abandon when everyone stopped in awe, an awareness of something other than our selves.  Regardless of religion or race or nationality, EVERYONE in that second, unknowingly, joined together in prayer.

I’m thinking I kind of miss the Sonic Booms.