Science: The Dangers of Quiet

A jetliner taxis out to take off on runway 31 L* at New York's Idlewild airport. Radioed advice from the ground control crackles in the crew's ears: "In the interest of noise abatement, do not delay turn to 290°." Beside the taxiway, a blunt sign reminds the pilot again of the noise-controlling turn. The reminder is unnecessary. He knows that the moment his wheels leave the ground he must transmit a report to a company sound truck stationed in line with the end of the runway, and he must start a countdown: "Five, four,...

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