The Giant Art That Keeps Planes Quiet

The Giant Art That Keeps Planes Quiet


Hearing is incredible. Think about it: a tiny little bit of tissue
in your ear, a tenth of a millimetre thick, moves in response to changes in air pressure, and converts them into
tiny vibrations in fluid, and then those get converted into electrochemical
impulses that go the brain, where they are somehow decoded into
what you experience as sound. And if all of that is working properly, then you’re able to pick out one source of
sound from another, in 3D space, and your brain is optimised
to pick out words and language even through huge amounts of noise. It’ll even filter out constant, steady noise
like a fan or the wind whistling through trees. To give an idea of
just how difficult a task that is: this is the waveform of the sound
that’s on this video. Same information, just presented differently, but it’s not something that you can
make sense of with your eyes. And it’s not like your eardrum only resonates
at a few frequencies. Human hearing in a
healthy, young person runs from somewhere up around 20,000 cycles a second,
all the way down to 20. Which means the eardrum can pick up
air movements with wavelengths that range from a couple of centimetres for
high frequencies, to 10 or 20 metres for really low bass. The sort of low, rumbling bass that you
would get from, say, a jet engine. Just over there is Amsterdam Schiphol airport. In terms of aircraft flying in and out,
it’s the busiest airport in Europe. Six runways. Two control towers, one just for the new runway that’s over there
that opened in 2003. That runway is five kilometres away from the
terminal. If you look at aerial photos, you can see plane after plane after plane
lined up on a fifteen-minute taxi, including going on a bridge
across a road and a canal. It was raining when my plane landed, but I
just about got that shot out the window. But there was one residential area,
just back there, where there was nothing but flat ground between those houses
and the back end of jet engines. I mean, of course it was flat ground,
it’s the Netherlands, but there was one spot just back there where it
got significantly louder for the people who lived there. And those local residents were not happy. Of course, the one day I’m here, they’re actually landing on that runway,
not taking off so the engines are pointed the other way,
but the point still stands. The local residents were not happy. This is the solution. Well, not a solution,
at least something to help. This is a park that serves two purposes:
one, to be land art, the sort of high-concept big sculpture
that’s created by moving enormous amounts of earth
and rock. This was designed by an artist. I mean, I’d send up a drone to show you,
but, you know, airport. But the second purpose is sound dampening. These ridges are metres apart,
roughly, very roughly, around the same wavelength as the low rumble
you get from a jet engine. Not exact, of course, but in the same order
of magnitude, close enough to be disruptive. So rather than the sound waves just rolling
over the land, instead they’re scattered in all directions,
up and away, not onwards. Not perfectly, not even close, but enough
to bring the noise level at those houses back down within acceptable limits. The architects claim that
one of the inspirations for this was people noticing that the engine noise
sounded quieter when the fields were ploughed. Because, yes, your brain can filter out
constant, steady noise. It can even, over time, get used to filtering
out intermittent, loud noise, like living next to an airport. But that filtering job is a lot easier if
the noise would just be a little less loud.

100 thoughts on “The Giant Art That Keeps Planes Quiet”

  1. Very interesting. I'm not close to an airport, but large military aircraft fly over my place at random times of the day and night on training missions, it'll drive you nuts. I wonder if we should do something like this out here…

  2. I've took a flight that landed in this airport before. I thought perhaps they'd landed at the wrong airport and were driving the plane all the way back. Not sure you can call it a flight if you spend half the time on wheels. I was surprised they didn't have to stop at a garage and get a change of tires on the way. Good airport though, good city, 5⭐.

  3. I always used to hear planes landing in the morning and then the engine powering down. The airport was probably more than 3 miles away and over several hills. But only in the morning

  4. I used to live next to a train track, and sometimes i had friends over, or on the phone, who would comment on "what's that noise"? And they had to record it and play it back to me for me to be able to even notice it was there. That's how used I was to hearing it; i couldnt pick it up even if i tried

  5. The ears are directly connected to the brain. This is why hearing problems is directly correlated with dementia and some forms of Alzheimers.

    Hearing aid helps the brain when you have problem with your hearing.

  6. my fvourite fact about schipol is that it was built on the site of a historic battle….. but it was a naval battle.

  7. The range of requencies is almost less impressive than the range in amplitudes, dB are logarithmic and sound pressure levels double every 3db, so the difference between the quietest sounds we can hear and the pain threshold is something like 9 billion times the amount of energy. it's why sound proofing is so hard… if you are hearing a noise at 60 db through a door, adding a second door might only get you to 57db

  8. Fascinating. I'm reminded of the baffles on the wall coverings of a soundproof booth or recording studio. It's one of those things that's so simple, it's genius!

  9. Actually, a waveform is legible with your eyes if you've been trained for it. I took a few linguistics courses years ago, and after just one semester I was able to read whole sentences just from the waveform. It was kind of amazing how quickly I was able to pick it up but it was definitely doable.

    Minor nitpick aside, good video as usual.

  10. this drives me CRAZY! How do you keep doing this, week after week, year after year … coming up with incredibly interesting things to talk about and educate others on!?

    Ugh .. I'll stop obsessing. Thanks for another great clip. Carry on.

  11. I thought the title said "The Giant Ant That Keeps Planes Quiet". I'm sure you can imagine my profound disappointment.

  12. I've lived a stones toss away from Dayton International Airport for around 17 years and I can say from experience that ears definitely filter out engine noises. Visitors always say how loud it is, but I hardly notice anymore.

  13. An airbase like this place outside central London was used in Star Wars The Force Awakens for the Resistance base on D'Qar.

  14. The second i saw you walk in the field with a long row of trees in the background i thought "that could only be the Netherlands". Strange how such little can give away location.

  15. I guess the hole we see on that mound (to his left when we watch the video) at 1:02 is the earthen subwoofer vent for that tad added sweet rumble of a low-end effect, eh? 🙈🙃😋🤓

  16. I wished i could switch my ears off. Sleep problems, dunno, two nights, almost 2h of sleep and some meditation over the day. I don't feel good anymore

  17. 0:00 to 0:40 and that's just a small part of our bodies
    Do you really believe all this accuracy in creation are just a coincidence? That we're just evolved from bacteria

  18. Meanwhile Dutch people all round the Netherlands are enjoying the sound of low flying planes while sitting in their backyard increasingly more.

  19. The complexity of hearing is amazing. And people think something that complex, and that fragile, could have actually evolved!

  20. I see 1 second of the landscape without having read the description and think "that looks like The Netherlands"…

  21. This is in my hometown! I left before the new runway was built but still visit regularly (from London, so not very often). Will drop by the park on one of my next visits. 🙂

  22. Airplanes always take off and land in the same direction into the wind. So the engines are always pointed the same way, unless the wind is blowing the other way.

  23. I live 20 minutes from this airport but never heard of this… how.

    Also yea the latest landing strip is so far from the actual airport that if i land on that lane and call the person to pick me up they arrive there before me.

  24. I watched "Daily Dose of Internet"s latest video right before. It was as if Tom Scott was responding to that at the beginning 😂😂 creepy

  25. Not to nitpick but not everybody can filter out noise! I'm on the spectrum and have issues, as do people with sensory processing problems and others!

  26. If I understand correctly those mounds are a combination of QRD diffuser and interrupted pattern diffuser, the mounds are roughly the same frequency as the engine noise which makes the closest frequency to the pattern resonate in the earth and be absorbed and some of the noise is scattered in random directions because of the interrupted pattern so less of it will reach the residential area. very clever way for passive noise management that is being used in many recording and sound studios

  27. Oh, so is that sort of why sound proof foam has them ridges? Because it’s similar to the wavelength of the sound?

  28. i dreamed being in this place with my grandpa and my brother looking at two ww1 flying on top of us and then crashed after that a helicopter comes and of course crashed too.

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