This is a question that has been asked many times and debated for centuries. Do gunshots or fireworks echo?
As surprising as it may sound, the answer is both “yes” and “no.”
The sounds of fireworks can be heard from miles away because they are so loud.
It’s not uncommon to hear the booms of these explosions echoing off buildings in an urban area.
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But when you fire a gun, the sound will only travel as far as what we call its “sound shadow,” which means that if something is blocking the path of where the bullet would naturally go, then you won’t hear anything at all.
What Do Gunshots Sound Like?
The sound depends on what caliber a gun uses.
The bigger the bullet, the louder it is.
A 9 mm handgun has a sharp sound and a high pitch than a .45 Glock, which sounds more profound and resounding.
Police fire tears gas canisters from shotguns during protests; for example, you can hear an array of different pitches depending on how far you are standing from the barrel.
Gunshots also depend on whether or not they are fired outdoors or indoors.
If someone farts in one room and then goes into another room, there will be less smell because there is no airflow inside rooms compared to outdoors where air moves around quickly.
Likewise, gunshots that happen outdoors tend to echo loudly off walls, whereas those that occur indoors are more muffled for this exact reason.
If you are in a residential neighborhood or city street, different pitches can be heard depending on whether they’re coming from your left, right, behind you, etc.
This is because of how sound waves bounce off objects and walls.
If gunshots originate from the back of you, it will seem closer than if they came from behind you, which would mean that their echo had further to go before reaching your eardrums.
The best thing to do whenever gunfire is heard is run indoors since bullets cannot enter buildings unless shot through doors or windows, which are usually small targets anyway.
Why Do Gunshots Not Echo?
Gunfire is expected to echo off the walls of buildings and around corners.
The surprise with the sharp crack and bang of a gunshot is that it can be loud enough to drown out any noise made by its echoes.
The reason for this unanticipated acoustic suppression has been studied in gun ranges and law enforcement training facilities, where observations have shown that we tend not to hear any sounds after a shot until about seven milliseconds after the muzzle blast.
This observation led scientists at NASA’s Ames Research Center, led by acoustics researcher Bart Kosko, to create simulations that showed that there were two sources responsible for this lack of auditory evidence of an echo.
The sound from the muzzle blast itself carries significant energy for a very brief period, and the sound of the bullet passing through the air also carries significant energy for a brief period.
A combination of these two sounds (or lack thereof) is responsible for our strange auditory experience when we hear a gunshot — and it turns out to be vital in designing suppression systems for firearms, too.
What Do Gunshots Sound Like in Space?
First of all, let’s get one thing clear: in space, you cannot hear.
You can’t hear because there isn’t medium to propagate the sound waves through. Sound needs a material such as air or water to travel, and it can’t happen in a vacuum.
So, what we perceive as noise when a gun goes off is actually pressure waves in the air pushing against our eardrums and bones, translating into noise that we then process by our brains into ‘sound.’
No noise could exist in a perfect vacuum where there would be nothing to carry these waves even if you fired a weapon.
This is why guns make little noise on spaceships and space stations – because their vacuum environment doesn’t transmit any sound from the shots.
What Do Fireworks Sound Like?
Fireworks don’t just go bang; they make a whole range of sounds.
How does this work?
When we set off fireworks, we use the explosive compound known as gunpowder to propel charges, and these charges create pressure and heat and expand rapidly, creating sound waves, which you hear as explosions.
It’s actually the same process that drives rockets into space. Firework manufacturers spend a great deal of time developing the best mixes for the effect they want.
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The result is that over 100 different effects can be created from one firework.
Here are some examples:
1) Whistles – A sharp ‘crack’ followed by a whistling sound caused by compressing air in a tube. If it is cut, it causes a low-pitch whistle.
2) Bangs – A spherical ball of colored fire caused by a burning composition being ejected from the nozzle with great force.
3) Crackles – Small charcoal-based pellets ejected with limited force, producing an effect similar to that of a chrysanthemum. The sound is identical to that of popcorn or frying bacon.
4) Wheeeeeeee’s – Similar sound to whistles but higher-pitched providing more excitement for the audience with less loudness. This is provided by small metal springs attached to the charge that tear apart rapidly, creating this effect.
The sound is very much like a burst of machine-gun fire.
5) Crackling hearts – These work a bit like crackles but without the charcoal. They can also produce a glittering heart effect if they contain small pieces of metal or aluminum foil attached to them.
Things that Sound Like Gun Shots
For amateurs and professional gun handlers to mistake other familiar sounds with that of gunfire. Many sounds could be mistaken for gunshots. They include fireworks, car backfires, and slamming doors.
Final thoughts on Do Gunshots Echo
Gunshot and fireworks sounds are almost identical, especially for anyone who’s never heard gunshots in their life.
To be clear, fireworks are often accompanied by crackling and whistling sounds, while gunshots tend to produce sharp and rhythmic sounds.
If you can’t tell the difference between the two, be ready to call the cops.