All of us think the loudest sound in the world is the phone that rings in the middle of the night or the dreadful music the neighbor kid blares on his car radio, but there are some sounds that drown out even those painful interruptions. Human speech is typically at the level of 25-35 decibels. Any sound above 85 decibels can cause hearing loss, and physical pain occurs at levels around 120-130 decibels. Consider the following ear-splitting noises:
- Speakers from a rock concert produce sound at 135-145 decibels.
- Fireworks, at the point of explosion, generate 145-150 decibels.
- Gunfire comes in at 145-155 decibels.
- Standing next to the space shuttle during a launch will expose you to 165-170 decibels.
- The blue whale’s call is 188 decibels, making it the loudest animal on the planet.
- When Mount Krakatoa erupted in 1883 with an explosion of 180 decibels, the sound could be heard on the island of Mauritius, nearly 3,000 miles (5,000 km) away.
- If you stood next to a 1-ton TNT bomb as it detonated, assuming you survived to tell about, you could report what a 210 decibel explosion sounds like.
- On June 30, 1908 a meteoroid exploded 3-6 miles above the Tunguska River in Russia with a force equivalent to a 1,000 megaton bomb. The sound, registering at 300-315 decibels, is often considered to be the loudest sound in human history.