I like super powers that are clever uses of the clichés. If you had super strength, yes of course you could punch through a wall or lift a bus over your head, but you could also high-five yourself so hard that the concrete beneath your feet would melt. This is why I love the Incredible Hulk‘s famous thunderclap — it’s more interesting than a hard punch and more destructive than you’d think. But just how powerful this clap is depends on what it would really sound like.
In my latest Because Science, I’m putting in a pair of ear plugs and trying to estimate how loud a thunderclap from the Hulk would be based on what we’ve seen in the comics and movies. Step one is defining what loud is, and the most common unit of measurement for that is the decibel. A decibel is a base ten logarithmic unit — a measured value must go up by a factor of ten to go up one decibel — that describes a ratio, in this case how much louder a sound is compared to the threshold for human hearing.
According to the comics, the Hulk’s thunderclap is as loud as a sonic boom or a hurricane, and in some cases is loud enough to be lethal. But just how loud is that, scientifically speaking? Watch my latest episode above to find out!
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