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Mystery of the singing sand dunes

Posted on Saturday, 3 November, 2012 | Comment icon 15 comments | News tip by: Still Waters

Image credit: CC 2.0 Joadl

Three scientists believe they've determined why some sand dunes produce a strange humming sound.

The mystery of the 'singing sand dunes' has baffled for centuries. When sand grains shuffle down dunes under certain circumstances they produce a deep groaning sound - something that Marco Polo once attributed to evil spirits. But how exactly are these sounds produced and how do some dunes produce more than one note at a time ?

Three scientists from Paris set out to find the answers to these questions. Deliberately triggering avalanches at sand dunes in Morocco and Oman, the trio noted that each dune seemed to create a sound in a different note. What they discovered is that the sound is caused by a constant stream of collisions between sand particles and that the size of the particles dictate which sound is made.

"When Marco Polo heard it in China, he suspected evil spirits."

  View: Full article |  Source: National Geographic

  Discuss: View comments (15)



Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #6 Posted by Mnemonix on 3 November, 2012, 16:38
...or it could just be evil spirits
Comment icon #7 Posted by JGirl on 3 November, 2012, 16:51
this is just as cool as the ringing rocks
Comment icon #8 Posted by Mnemonix on 3 November, 2012, 16:54
this is just as cool as the ringing rocks http://en.wikipedia....i/Ringing_rocks I can rest in peace knowing rocks can sing. Uh, I mean ring.
Comment icon #9 Posted by JGirl on 3 November, 2012, 18:30
I can rest in peace knowing rocks can sing. Uh, I mean ring. they can move across the ground by themselves too...
Comment icon #10 Posted by Ashiene on 3 November, 2012, 19:28
I would like to hear the explanation behind the mysterious music at certain lakes in the early morning or evening.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Mag357 on 3 November, 2012, 22:30
I've heard trees whistle. But then I guess that was the wind blowing through them. lol
Comment icon #12 Posted by Sundew on 4 November, 2012, 0:46
Bet they are humming Klaus Schulze's tune "Frank Herbert".
Comment icon #13 Posted by K.Ravi on 4 November, 2012, 1:07
Just last week we had a cyclonic depression and winds at 45-60 kmph were blowing, all trees were swaying and when the windows were closed, somewhere through a small hole the winds were comming and making a whispering noise,, wooooooooooiiimmmmmmmmmmmmmm like that, my mom listened it and even i listened it, i then immediately thought of EVPs
Comment icon #14 Posted by Invader Ebony on 4 November, 2012, 5:40
I don't blame them for thinking the sounds were connected with evil spirits... eerie!!
Comment icon #15 Posted by MidKn13ght on 15 November, 2012, 17:32
Are you sure its not all the dune beatles with gas???

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