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Sound waves are like ripples in a pond that radiate around the object. An aeroplane travelling at sub-sonic speed will be travelling behind the sound that it has emitted. When the aeroplane reaches the exact speed of sound, the sound it is producing will accompany it on its journey. This can be very dangerous. Why? Because while it is travelling at the speed of sound, there will be a continuous build up of sound around the aircraft. As new sounds are produced, the aircraft will fly along with those new sounds - and so on. Eventually, the racket will break up the aircraft!

Because of this, aeroplanes break through the sound barrier. They will travel at subsonic speed for a while, and then accelerate rapidly until they have passed through and left the build up of sound behind them. Meanwhile anyone below will hear the sonic boom as sound waves radiate to the ground.

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Light travels much faster than sound and no machine has ever been built that gets anywhere near the speed of light. It is theoretically impossible to reach this speed as it would require infinite energy (or limited energy over an infinite time period). If the laws of physics could be broken and the speed of light reached or surpassed, the forward momentum would become perpetual.