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Punch and Judy's quiet argument
Posted by: Anonymous User (
Date: December 25, 2006 04:13AM

Epigraph to chapter 8, "Noisy Neighbours", refers to Punch & Judy's record for "loudest argument in a restaurant ... which lasted for three hours and twenty-eight minutes at a sustained level of 43.2 decibels" (UK hardbound ed.). 43 db is very quiet, actually. In fact the example scale given in the Wikipedia entry on "decibel" pegs "Quiet restaurant inside" at 50 db:


If P&J are loud enough to mask the sound of jetliners on the Heathrow flight path, perhaps it's a typo for 143.2 decibels...

Re: Punch and Judy's quiet argument
Posted by: PrinzHilde (
Date: December 25, 2006 12:16PM

Hello dsewell, welcome to the fforum! Take a look around, especially in the Thursday Next Fforum, we're all hanging out there. (because that is where the tea and cake are)

re Decibel, please remember that it is a relative level. I imagine 43.2 dB is meant to be "above the level of the restaurant", which would be much more than quiet. Maybe you have a HiFi set somewhere that has an indicator for sound volume. They usually compare the maximum level (0 dB) to the more muted sounds. -40 dB then represents what a dusty old vinyl record produces typically when you only hear the crackle between tracks.

A sustained sound of 140 dB for multiple hours - it never being quieter - might be lethal...

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Re: Punch and Judy's quiet argument
Posted by: Nicky (
Date: December 25, 2006 05:36PM

I think PH meant to invite you to the Nextian Chat fforum. The TN one hasn't been used much in years.

Re: Punch and Judy's quiet argument
Posted by: PrinzHilde (
Date: December 26, 2006 01:44AM

<Drat!> Of course she's right.

Re: Punch and Judy's quiet argument
Posted by: SkidMarks (
Date: December 26, 2006 11:31AM

Hi Desewell,

sorry to disagree with my friend Claus, but I think that you are correct and that it is a mis-print. While the decibel is relative measure of sound intensity, this is relative to the threshold of hearing (0 Db). measuring devices usually measure decibels from this arbitrary point, rather than from ambient or background noise.

Every three decibels doubles the noise level.
The threshold of pain is around 130 decibels and a sustained 140 decibels, while not lethal would cause permanent damage to hearing after a fairly short time!
160 decibels would cause instant perforation of the eardrum!


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