The dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy ( RAE ) recognizes the concept of decibel as synonymous with decibel : a unit of acoustic intensity. A decibel or decibel is equivalent to 0.1 bels (the unit that arises from the ratio between the pressure that produces a wave and a pressure taken as a reference). The term bel derives from Bell, the surname of a notable Scottish physicist who became a US citizen: Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922).
It is important to bear in mind that a decibel – whose symbol is dB – does not refer to a quantity, but to a ratio between quantities: it is a logarithmic expression.
This need to use a ratio or a comparison between two quantities, instead of a fixed quantity, arose after the discovery that a listener is not able to reliably indicate the intensity of the same sound if he hears it more than once., although it is capable of comparing this property between two different sounds.
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Used in the field of telecommunications, electricity and acoustics, the decibel expresses the link between a certain magnitude and another reference magnitude. Regarding the measurement of the intensity of sounds, the lowest threshold of perception in humans is usually used as a reference magnitude.
An intensity of 0 dB, in this framework, marks the threshold of perception in people. A train reaches an intensity of 80 dB, a plane taking off reaches 130 dB and a Formula 1 car can produce a sound of 140 dB, to name a few noises.
We said lines above that a decibel is equal to 0.1 bels; therefore one bel is equivalent to 10 decibels. This means that it supposes a power increase of ten times with respect to the reference magnitude (0 bels). If one bel equals 10 decibels, two bels equal 100 decibels, three bels equal 1000 decibels, etc.
The reason why the decibel is used instead of the bel, taking into account that it is one of its submultiples, is not at all arbitrary, but rather responds to a need that arises from the great amplitude of the fields that are subjected to measurement ; if bel were used in all cases, for many of them the result would be decimal, and that would make reading difficult.
The decibel is a logarithmic expression, for which it is not linear, and it is also dimensionless (it does not represent a dimension) and scalar (it is a real number that describes a physical phenomenon by means of a magnitude without the need to indicate a direction, as the vectors). It is important to note that neither the decibel nor the bel belong to the International System of Units.
In another field, the term Decibel is the proper name of a communications framework of the unified graphical interface known as KDE 4, developed for Unix systems. A framework, on the other hand, is a work environment that focuses on a particular problem which it takes as a point of reference to offer solutions to others of a similar nature.
The Decibel framework works in real time and allows the integration of communication protocols to interconnect the various technologies on which KDE 4 is based, so that developers can include certain communication features in their programs more easily.
There is also an audio player called Decibel Audio Player, which was developed in the Python programming language and offers a clear and clean interface for users of GNOME, a desktop environment used in free operating systems GNU/Linus, Unix and its derivatives, such as Solaris and BSD.