The Decibel Scale

All of us have probably at least heard of the decibel scale, but do you know how it originated? That is the subject of today’s post.

We use a logarithmic rather than a decimal scale to measure amplitude to make the numbers more manageable. The original unit that was developed was called the bel, after Alexander Graham Bell. This number proved to be too large to use with sound, so engineers eliminated the last zero and named the new unit the decibel, or one tenth of a bel. The decibel scale is measured from an arbitrary point called 0 dB. This does not mean, however, that a sound that measures 0 dB has zero amplitude.

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