Trombone’s shock waves captured on film

Scientists used schlieren photography to catch the shock wave.

London: The shock waves released by the musical instrument, trombone, have for the first time been caught on film.

It was first suggested in 1995 that the intense pressure waves, which can briefly exceed the speed of sound, could come from trombones.

Kazuyoshi Takayama and Kiyonobu Ohtani from Tohoku University`s Institute of Fluid Science worked with Prof Hirschberg to get an intimate look at the process.

They used what is known as schlieren photography to catch the shock wave.

The technique can image variations in what is known as the refractive index of air - in essence, the speed of light in a given medium.

Because shock waves represent a stark and sudden change in refractive index, they show up clearly in schlieren photographs.

The shock waves are formed when the trombone is blown particularly hard - in music parlance, "fortissimo" and "fortississimo".

"Mahler and Tchaikovsky loved such dramatic specifications without knowing about shock waves," BBC News quoted Takayama as saying.

"Musicians sitting in front of the trombone or trumpet have suffered from these shock waves,” he added.

Researchers revealed the video at the Acoustical Society of America meeting.


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