Analysis of noise sources in colonial Philadelphia

Braxton Boren, Agnieszka Roginska

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Benjamin Franklin famously performed an acoustic experiment while listening to George Whitefield preach in Philadelphia in 1739, in which Franklin calculated that Whitefield could be heard by more than 30,000 listeners. In the course of his experiment, Franklin mentioned Whitefield's voice being disturbed by noise on Front Street, which affected the distance at which Franklin could understand him. In the course of constructing an acoustical simulation of Franklin's experiment, this paper describes research into the noise soundscape of early 18th century Philadelphia. First the attenuation due to diffraction is calculated based on Franklin's position and the frequency of the noise source. Next, historical accounts of noise are considered. The most likely sources of noise on Front Street would have been either a carriage on sand or gravel, or conversations outside the Old London Coffee House. These sources can be measured for approximate sound pressure levels today and inserted into a virtual model of Franklin's experiment to simulate how loud Whitefield's voice would have been and how many people could have heard his unamplified voice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication41st International Congress and Exposition on Noise Control Engineering 2012, INTER-NOISE 2012
Pages7543-7553
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012
Event41st International Congress and Exposition on Noise Control Engineering 2012, INTER-NOISE 2012 - New York, NY, United States
Duration: Aug 19 2012Aug 22 2012

Publication series

Name41st International Congress and Exposition on Noise Control Engineering 2012, INTER-NOISE 2012
Volume9

Other

Other41st International Congress and Exposition on Noise Control Engineering 2012, INTER-NOISE 2012
CountryUnited States
CityNew York, NY
Period8/19/128/22/12

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics

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  • Cite this

    Boren, B., & Roginska, A. (2012). Analysis of noise sources in colonial Philadelphia. In 41st International Congress and Exposition on Noise Control Engineering 2012, INTER-NOISE 2012 (pp. 7543-7553). (41st International Congress and Exposition on Noise Control Engineering 2012, INTER-NOISE 2012; Vol. 9).