What is a person to do in remote, forbidding Antarctica? Drop ice down super deep holes, of course. It turns out that you can get much entertainment by dropping blocks of ice down drill holes since it makes crazy laser gun sounds… because science.
John Andrew Higgins is an isotope geochemist, and when he’s not studying how many isotopes are in various elements, he enjoys dropping ice in holes. Higgins posted a video of the bizarre curiosity on Twitter with the caption: “What does a 9-inch ice core sound like when dropped down a 450-foot hole? Like this!”
WOAH. There’s an entire laser gun battle going down in that hole and probably more accurate than Stormtroopers.
The tweet racked up nearly 8,000 RTs, 25,000 Likes, and 3.5 million views on Twitter.
Higgins stole the idea from glaciologist Peter Neff, who started the trend of tossing ice down drill holes. Neff threw a block of ice down a 295-foot hole in Law Dome, Antarctica in 2018. That video also went viral, amassing over 10 million views on Twitter alone.
Neff explained the science behind the strange “pew-pew” sound that is created when ice is thrown down a solid ice borehole.
“Then, when the ice hits the bottom of the borehole, the sound doesn’t only come straight up – the sound waves start to bounce off the sides of the hole,” Neff explained. “That’s why you hear this ‘pew!’ with sort-of a heartbeat sound afterwards.”
The cause of the crazy acoustics is the Doppler effect. Wikipedia gives us the definition of the Doppler effect: “The change in frequency of a wave in relation to an observer who is moving relative to the wave source. It is named after the Austrian physicist Christian Doppler, who described the phenomenon in 1842.”
An example of the Doppler effect is when sound changes as a car or an ambulance’s siren is coming towards you but then has a different noise as it moves away from you.
Science is awesome.