Chuck Yeager ushered in an era when he blasted through the sound barrier at Edwards Air Force Base in 1947. But his Bell X-1 also created a problem: the window- and nerve-rattling sonic boom. Now aeronautical engineers at the same California air base say that although they haven't busted the sonic boom, at least they've taken a swing at muffling it.
Flying faster than the speed of sound--660 miles per hour at 10,000 feet--an airplane produces air-pressure waves that pile up in front. The waves form highly compressed regions called shock waves, which lead to sonic booms.
This article was originally published with the title Lowering the Boom.