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Lancaster, California’s Musical Road is a Bit Out of Tune

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In an effort to spice things up a bit in the town of Lancaster, California, officials decided to create a musical road—but as it turns out, their efforts were a bit of a fail. YouTuber Tom Scott drove out to Lancaster to see the road for himself and dove into the reasons why it was built incorrectly.

Originally built as a publicity stunt for a car company, the musical road was designed to play the tune of “William Tell Overture” by Gioachino Rossini when you drive on it, but the notes are extremely out of tune.

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Musical roads have been successful in the past. In fact, Route 66 sings “America the Beautiful” and the Nationwide jingle in perfect tune.

Scott explains that in order to create a musical road, you have to create vibrations at a certain frequency, “Those vibrations can be made by a violin string or synthesized by a computer or, in this case, made by vehicle tires hitting grooves in the road. The closer the grooves are, the faster the vibrations, and the higher the note.”

Creating a musical road truly is a science. But according to Scott, the math is simple: you take the speed limit and divide by the frequency of the note you want. The result should be the distance between the grooves in the road. Traveling at a different speed would change the key of the song, but its musical integrity would still remain intact.

The designers of the musical road in Lancaster, California didn’t necessarily mess up the math; they just had poor communication skills. California Institute of Technology researcher David Simmons Duffin hypothesizes that the mistake was made in communicating the measurements to construction workers. When describing the distance between each groove, they didn’t include the width of the grooves themselves.

But here’s the laugh riot of it all—this is not the first musical road in Lancaster. The original musical road was built too close to a residential area and locals complained about the constant, out-of-tune noise. So they moved it without fixing the problem. “The city paved over [the first musical road],” explained Scott. “And rebuilt it to the exact same, wrong blueprint.”

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Watch Tom Scott’s full video here:

News Sources: YouTube