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When a locomotive is standing still, the sound waves going out from its whistle are evenly spaced.
While every effort has been made to follow citation style rules, there may be some discrepancies. The traditional answer to the question "why does a kettle whistle" dates back to British physicist Lord Rayleigh. Then, as pressure builds and a strong jet of steam escapes through the lid’s opening, small vortices of steam break off and create pressure waves in the air.
As to the original Lord Rayleigh, he still has a number of considerable achievements to his name, so if he was incorrect about the kettle whistle it won't detract too much from his historical standing.


When the locomotive is moving toward an observer, however, the waves bunch together ahead of the source. The three basic properties of any pure sound are its pitch, its intensity, and its quality.
Rayleigh proposed in 1877 that water molecules bouncing back and forth in the spout produce the whistle.
Lord Rayleigh (otherwise known as John William Strutt, 3rd Baron Rayleigh) was an English physicist who, with William Ramsay, discovered argon, an achievement for which he earned the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1904. With the new study, engineers mimicked a tea kettle in the laboratory using tubing and a series of pressure sensors and microphones.


He also discovered the phenomenon now called Rayleigh scattering, explaining why the sky is blue, and predicted the existence of the surface waves now known as Rayleigh waves. Just as the locomotive passes the observer, the pitch of its whistle suddenly drops to a lower tone, for behind the locomotive the sound waves are spread apart. The researchers found a two-step process: steam lazily rising from water that is just starting to boil vibrates within the spout to produce a faint tone, much the way a bottle neck hums when you blow across its mouth.



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Comments to «What causes a whistle sound in your ear»

  1. AFTOSH writes:
    Loud noises because where the ringing is mild and some.
  2. tatlim writes:
    Would be quite some time who already have an age-associated hearing loss, these who have been.