On YouTube, Kevin Kohler posts videos under the name The Backyard Scientist. As the name suggests, he uses his videos to conduct a wide array of science experiments, often in his backyard. And sometimes, he gets his inspiration from television.
In one recent video, Kevin said he got one idea from the season finale of episode eight of The Simpsons. In "The Secret War of Lisa Simpson," there is a moment early on where Bart finds several megaphones. Bart puts one megaphone in front of another and says, "Testing."
Bart reasons that if two megaphones can make a voice louder than a single megaphone, then using all the megaphones at once must be pretty amazing. He gathers all of them and lines them up in a row. Somehow, they don't all fall over.
The sound from the megaphone was so big that it created a giant sound wave. Not only was this sound wave visible, but it was big enough to spread throughout all of Springfield. And also spreading was the sound wave's damage.
He also tested out the amount of noise coming from a running vacuum cleaner. It came out to 80-90 decibels. Kevin states possible hearing damage doesn't occur until at least 120 decibels, which is like "front row seats at a really loud rock concert."
Kevin went to the park and tested the loudness of just one megaphone. He had someone in the distance measure as the sound as he shouted "Testing," and got the result of about 79. By just shouting "Testing" from his voice alone, the result was 67.
Finally, Kevin had them all on, and he said "Testing" into one of them. The result? The measurement in the distance was 77-81 decibels. In other words, it was about the same volume as shouting through one single megaphone.
Kevin and his assistant arranged all ten megaphones in a circle and turned them on to see how loud the feedback loop would be. Without talking into the megaphones, the volume got up to 120 decibels. So it was like being at a rock concert...although maybe not as fun.
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The full video of Kevin recreating Bart's prank can be seen here. Also go to The Backyard Scientist on YouTube to see more of Kevin's experiments at work. Just try to not be too disappointed by the fact that what you see on The Simpsons isn't always scientifically accurate.