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Pattaya Daily News

15 July 2010 :: 14:07:59 pm 31234

Do Auroras Give off Sounds or Not?

Anyone who has ever had the privilege of seeing the Northern Lights will know just how beautiful they can be. The Northern Lights have attracted millions of people, some of whom believe they can hear the sounds of the aurora though it is not clear where it comes from or how.
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There is no definite explanation to approve or disapprove these reports of Aurora sounds that are described as radio static, swishing, rustling and crackling, but it has been said that if conditions are right, one might hear some unusual noises. Inuit stories believe it is the sound of the spirits of the dead playing or trying to communicate with those around them.

It has not been made clear as to what the conditions are for the sounds of the Aurora to be heard, though it has been said that when the Aurora gives off a powerful display, this is the time one may hear something. Apparently not everyone can hear the sounds. Many people have seen hundreds of powerful displays, but not all of them have heard anything even though they may have been standing in the same place at the same time. There have also been reports that the sounds of the Aurora have been heard only on very rare occasions.

Scientists are too busy with the ionosphere (a region of the atmosphere that begins at an altitude of about thirty miles), where the particles that create Auroras are speeded up to be bothered about any sounds that may or may not be heard and if so from where they may come.

The solar wind interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere of at least sixty kilometers altitude are the cause of Auroras and so it is unlikely the sounds are directly from the Aurora as the sound waves would fade long before they reached the ground.

As with any phenomenon that has been difficult to observe, many stories float around. Modern technology has made us used to hearing different and unusual sounds along with visual stimulants to support it. This may contribute to our imagination making us believe we have heard something when in fact, there was nothing to hear.

Low frequency radio waves have the same frequency as sound waves. The long thin conductors such as grass, hair, wired spectacle frames can serve as an antennae for these radio waves that when receiving signals, vibrate and transform the radio energy into sound.

Very low frequency radio waves have been detected in Aurora displays and also found to have been produced by meteors which have been recorded.

There have been cases in the past whereby dental work has acted as radio receivers. This phenomenon is believed to be results of fillings or braces acting as a crystal radio that picked up AM signals when the person was close to a strong source. The body acted like an antenna and the combination of saliva and metal fillings behaved like a diode to extract a strong AM signal from a modulated carrier wave, while a loose filling or bridgework can become a small speaker where the sound is carried through the bone structure to the ear.

There has been no confirmed information as to the sounds of the Aurora, though over the last decade or so, there have been some recording made in different areas, but whether it is the results of low radio waves or just the over imagination of the individual, we may never know.

Sarah Goldman

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