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The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America




A weather balloon filled with carbon dioxide gas is used as a positive spherical acoustic lens. High frequency but audible sound from a circular loudspeaker ensonifies the balloon and produces increased sound pressure levels in a region along the principal axis according to a ray acoustics model. This enhancement was measured experimentally and was found to agree with theory. The possibility that interference from reflected sound off walls or the floor could mask or mimic the expected focusing was countered by calculating and measuring within a “shadow zone” in which only direct rays or rays refracted by the balloon exist by the method of Fresnel volumes. The experiment described in this paper would be a suitable learning experience for junior high and high school students showing how rays and Snell’s law apply to sound as well as light and giving them a measurable predicted focal region for enhanced sound pressure levels.


The right, six or more months after publication by the ASA, to post copies of the article as published on the author(s) institutional internet web sites or on governmental web sites, to whatever extent is required by the author(s) institution or by whoever funded the research reported in the paper. Article obtained from The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America.

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