Why does thunder sound like a crack close up but a roll from far away?

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Why does thunder sound like a crack close up but a roll from far away?

In: 23

The up-close crack is direct from the lightning epicenter to you. The roll has bounced off a few things along the way.

Possibly helpful analogy. Imagine dropping a pebble into a swimming pool and watching the ripples. When the ripples hit the side of the pool, they get reflected, and intermix with themselves.

Now imagine that the pebble is the lightning strike that created the thunderclap. If you’re in a place where you hear the unreflected clap, what you hear is pretty simple. If your vantage is somewhere so you don’t hear it till it’s reflected (by, say, the ground), then what you hear is more complicated and mixed up.

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Higher frequencies get absorbed much faster while lower frequencies can penetrate solid objects better. This is not specific to thunder, but all sound in general. When things get further away, the sound tends to get duller. That roll is still there when close, but our ears are going to more notice the higher frequencies since those frequencies allow us to better hear approaching predators.

There is also the Fletcher-Munson curve which is that the louder a sound is (which comes with proximity usually) the more the very high and low frequencies get boosted by our ears. That’s why often turning up the music sounds better. Because it has more top and bottom end the louder it gets.

“It’s called the Doppler Effect, Dewey. Both sound and light travel at a constant speed, but their wavelengths get shorter or longer depending on whether they’re moving towards you or away from you. Now put some pants on, you little freak.” 

-Dewey, malcolm in the middle. This quote is referring to why motorcycles get louder when they’re closer but it’s pretty much the same

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0

Why does thunder sound like a crack close up but a roll from far away?

In: 23

The up-close crack is direct from the lightning epicenter to you. The roll has bounced off a few things along the way.

Possibly helpful analogy. Imagine dropping a pebble into a swimming pool and watching the ripples. When the ripples hit the side of the pool, they get reflected, and intermix with themselves.

Now imagine that the pebble is the lightning strike that created the thunderclap. If you’re in a place where you hear the unreflected clap, what you hear is pretty simple. If your vantage is somewhere so you don’t hear it till it’s reflected (by, say, the ground), then what you hear is more complicated and mixed up.

[removed]

Higher frequencies get absorbed much faster while lower frequencies can penetrate solid objects better. This is not specific to thunder, but all sound in general. When things get further away, the sound tends to get duller. That roll is still there when close, but our ears are going to more notice the higher frequencies since those frequencies allow us to better hear approaching predators.

There is also the Fletcher-Munson curve which is that the louder a sound is (which comes with proximity usually) the more the very high and low frequencies get boosted by our ears. That’s why often turning up the music sounds better. Because it has more top and bottom end the louder it gets.

“It’s called the Doppler Effect, Dewey. Both sound and light travel at a constant speed, but their wavelengths get shorter or longer depending on whether they’re moving towards you or away from you. Now put some pants on, you little freak.” 

-Dewey, malcolm in the middle. This quote is referring to why motorcycles get louder when they’re closer but it’s pretty much the same