The Science of Sound Waves

Sound Waves – ahhh science

What is radiofrequency ablation?

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is a treatment that uses imaging guidance to place a needle electrode through the skin into a liver tumor. High-frequency electrical currents are passed through the electrode, creating heat that destroys the cancer cells. RFA is an effective treatment option for patients who might have difficulty with surgery or those whose tumors are less than one and a half inches in diameter. The success rate for completely eliminating small liver tumors is greater than 85 percent.

You’re probably wondering why I am citing my last procedure for cancer in my liver here in a blog, but it’s really about the use of sound waves, albeit very high frequency currents that passing through an electrode that causes heat, that then destroy the tumor. Sound waves are potent beyond just the auditory joys they can create in folks. There are study’s that say the music, or the use of sound waves in music, can be healing in a more existential way. There are, however, some instances of more destructive use of sound waves in history.

Nazi Germany certainly had its fair share of crazy contraptions and weapons. As the second World War drew to a close, Hitler’s best designers and scientists were employed in a frantic race to develop some of the most sophisticated and advanced weaponry of the age. These were part of Hitler’s desperate last attempts and were dubbed as “The Wonder Weapons” or “Wunderwaffen”. 

The Sonic Cannon

This may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but during the early 1940’s, Nazi engineers had managed to develop a sonic cannon that could literally shake a person apart from the inside. Or at least that’s what they claimed. Designed by Dr. Richard Wallauschek, the cannon consisted of a methane gas combustion chamber leading to two large parabolic reflectors, the final version of which had a diameter over 3m. The “dishes” were pulse detonated at around 44Hz and were connected to a chamber composed of several sub-units firing tubes. These tubes would allow a mixture of methane and oxygen in the combustion chamber, which when ignited, would turn these gases into noise that could kill. This infrasound, magnified by the dish reflectors, caused vertigo and nausea at 300 yards by vibrating the middle ear bones and shaking the cochlear fluid within the inner ear. Apparently, the sound waves created pressures that could kill a man 50 meters away in half a minute. To say the least, this is very unconvincing, since this supposed “Sonic Cannon” was only tested on laboratory animals, and was never tested on human beings. Either or, in practice, this thing would have been very vulnerable to enemy fire, since if the parabolic reflectors were damaged, it would render this weapon completely useless.

So in reality, sonic weapons were most likely large, cumbersome, close range devices that resulted in ruptured eardrums. So much for shaking a person apart.

Alas the “Sonic Cannon” is just another urban myth. The best myth is the “Brown Note”, a frequency so low it makes you lose control of your bowels, so in the morning you can tell your friends the band was so awesome I shit myself, it’s been disproved many times over, even south park had an episode about it, a myth sure,  but one of the funny ones for sure.  I’ve played gigs where I wish it were real though, would have made the gig fun at least. Give new meaning to the load out …. Music can soothe the savage beast, but won’t make him poop!


In honor of Earth Day (isn’t every day Earth Day?), there is a song I wish you all would go to betteredazemusic.com, and have a listen to - “Lost In The Sound” Roger and I poured our hearts into this piece – let’s not screw with the earth until its uninhabitable. Let’s trust the science, the real science, proven science, so we may always have better days.