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Marleen Bos // Courtesy Schiphol Group

Simple Landscaping Tricks Can Make Airports Quieter

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Marleen Bos // Courtesy Schiphol Group

Airports are, understandably, noisy places. At 80 feet away, a jet taking off is loud enough to rupture ear drums. The noise from plane traffic at busy airports is a regular complaint among residents who live along flight paths, and can affect people’s health and home values. New generations of planes are getting quieter, but airports still have to find ways of dampening their roars and appeasing neighbors. For Schipol international airport just outside of Amsterdam—one of the busiest in Europe—the solution was a park.

Buitenschot Land Art Park is an 80-acre field that’s specially designed to cut down ambient noise around the airport. Designed by the artist Paul de Kort and H+N+S Landscape Architects, it’s a maze of ridges and troughs inspired by the work of 18th-century German physicist and musician Ernst Chladni. His study of acoustics through the motion of sand on vibrating plates is the foundation of the science of sound. 

Image Credit:Marleen Bos // Courtesy Schiphol Group

Previously, research into the noise around Amsterdam’s airports revealed that noise levels decreased every fall, when the fields around the area had been plowed. The low-frequency noise that comes from planes has long wavelengths, so it can’t be stopped by just one sound barrier. The spread-out furrows of a plowed field, by contrast, were able to absorb some of the sound waves because they exist over long stretches of land. 

A diagram of how the ridges dampen ground noise. Image Credit: Schiphol Group

Sharply carved, 10-foot-high ridges crisscross the park in straight lines, with bike paths and miniature parks set up in the 36-foot valley between them. Because the ridges are spaced about the same as the wavelength of the airport noise, they dampen the sound. The ridges reduce noise by two to three decibels, a seemingly modest decrease, but one that’s a significant step toward the airport’s goal of cutting noise by 10 decibels in the area. 

[h/t: Smithsonian via Gizmodo]

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History
When Chuck Yeager Tweeted Details About His Historic, Sound Barrier-Breaking Flight

Seventy years ago today—on October 14, 1947—Charles Elwood Yeager became the first person to travel faster than the speed of sound. The Air Force pilot broke the sound barrier in an experimental X-1 rocket plane (nicknamed “Glamorous Glennis”) over a California dry lake at an altitude of 25,000 feet.

In 2015, the nonagenarian posted a few details on Twitter surrounding the anniversary of the achievement, giving amazing insight into the history-making flight.

For even more on the historic ride, check out the video below.

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History
How the Wright Brothers' Plane Compares to the World's Largest Aircraft
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The Wright brothers famously built the world’s first powered, heavier-than-air, controllable aircraft. But while the siblings revolutionized the field of aviation, their early plane looks tiny—and dare we say quaint-looking—when compared to the aerial giants that came after it.

In Tech Insider’s video below, you can see how the Wright brothers’ flyer stacks up against the scale of other aircrafts. You'll notice that size doesn't always guarantee a successful journey. The Hughes H-4 Hercules—the largest flying boat ever made—never made it past the prototype stage, performing only one brief flight in 1947. And the Hindenburg, which was 804 feet long and could fit 80 Olympic swimming pools, famously exploded on May 6, 1937.

Today’s longest commercial airliner is the Boeing 747-8, which measures 251 feet from nose to tail. While slightly shorter (238 feet), the Airbus A380 is certified to hold more people than any other plane in the air—a total of 850 passengers. That record won't last long, though: In a few years, the Stratolaunch carrier—the widest aircraft ever built—will dwarf its contemporaries when it takes to the skies in 2019. Built to launch rockets into orbit, its wingspan is about the size of a football field, even bigger than that of the Hughes H-4 Hercules.

Still, what the Wright brothers’ plane lacked in size, it made up for in ingenuity. Without it, these other giants may never have existed.

[h/t: Tech Insider]

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