Ice is one of nature’s many amazing natural formations that can be both beautiful and dangerous, sometimes both at the same time. An iceberg, for instance, is an exceptionally pretty-looking structure, but one wrong move in a boat, and you could be going down like the Titanic.
But ice can also do some really funny things to sound waves, especially when ice gets hit by something like a rock skipping on a frozen pond or lake. This is thanks to a phenomenon called acoustic dispersion.
If a rock hits a chunk of ice, it makes a “thump” sound; that sound is made up of all kinds of different vibrations on numerous frequencies that we hear all at once.
But when you take a rock and skip it across a frozen body of water, those frequencies move outward through the ice. Since the higher frequencies move faster, those are the ones our ears hear first, which causes a sound similar to a sci-fi laser pistol.
The next time you come across a frozen lake or pond, go out and find a rock so you can hear this incredible phenomenon firsthand just like in the video below!
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