Thursday, 14 February 2008

Listen to the singing dunes!

Yesterday, dealing with the scientific secrets behind sand, I have come across a natural wonder that has not yet been fully explained: singing sand dunes. Enjoy!

In brief, sand dunes, under certain conditions, emit a roaring sound that can be heard in a mile's distance. It is not the wind but the sand itself, pushed by the wind over the dune crest and flowing down at the lee side. The sand does not flow in a steady stream but in sort of a stop-go motion that produces a sound of about a hundred hertz. In one of the Wikipedia links this is shown in a slow motion video.

There are scientific explanations for it, but still disputed and not yet fully understood. There may be gaps in knowledge but one thing is for sure: It is nothing supernatural, nothing that requires a non-material world to explain it. There are no singing ghosts in the dune. It is the pure matter that produces the sounds.

Just take a hand full of sand, and apply all science on it, everything from atomic physics via chemistry up to such experiments as shooting sand jets on targets. You never will be able to predict such a thing as singing dunes. Why? Because the properties of a sand dune cannot be predicted from the properties of the sand grains.

I think that we can learn something from this example when it comes to life, evolution and intelligent design. It is about what we think matter is capable of doing. Singing dunes show that the simple matter of sand is capable of producing sounds. Organisms show that complex matter is capable of life. ID people have the idea that matter is too simple, without surprising properties, and that life must have been created by an intelligent being. Maybe they should dig for music instruments in the singing dunes.

Related post: Test your sense of natural wonder (about ice flowers).

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