In season 8 of The Simpsons, Bart Simpson devised a prank where he put 15 megaphones together and created a massive sound wave that disrupted the town of Springfield. For breaking all of Homer’s beer, as well as causing a nuisance among everyone near him, Bart wound up having to go to military school. It wasn’t any of our favorite episodes, but it was still a classic.
The question remains after 20 years, would this prank work in real life?
Thankfully, we don’t need to wonder anymore. Kevin Kohler, known online as The Backyard Scientist, decided to test this out to see if he could be louder.
Taking 10 megaphones and lining them up, Kohler tested them using a decibel meter. To avoid breaking windows and beer, Kohler did his experiment on a baseball field and away from any buildings.
After a control test of yelling normally (67 db) and using one megaphone (80 db), Kohler yelled “testing” in the megaphones. The experiment wound up not being that effective. While using one megaphone registered 80 db, the 10 megaphone lineup only registered 81 db. That and it caused a bunch of feedback that really is much worse than anything Bart did with a megaphone.
To try and gather a different result, Kohler wanted to see if it would be any different if he positioned the megaphones in a circle. That seemed to do the trick as the megaphones put out a much more irritating feedback sound and registered at 119 decibels, right around the point of potential permanent hearing loss.
Due to the potential for hearing loss, it’s probably not recommended to try this. But at the very least, know that lining up your megaphones together for a louder sound isn’t likely to work. While that makes The Simpsons less realistic, maybe that’s for the best.