Thunder & Lightning FAQ
Q: What does Thunder & Lightning do?
A: Very little. It is basically just a glorified stopwatch that factors in the speed of sound to determine how far away you are from a (visible) sound source.
Q: Can’t I just do that by counting the seconds between the event and the sound like I learned in grade school?
A: Sure. But where’s the fun in that? Do you still do math in your head too? That’s what the shiny technology is for! Not to mention you also get the self-gratifying illusion of extended precision.
Q: Is the speed of sound calculation accurate?
A: Mostly (at least according to Wikipedia). It only takes temperature into account (assuming you set it correctly), but there are other factors (like air pressure and humidity) than can also play a role. But those generally have a smaller impact, and while people might be able to reasonably guess at the temperature, those other variables are not as easy to obtain. So rather than further burden the app with additional settings of limited utility, we just focused on temperature. It should also be noted that the speed of sound calculation is for the air and not, say, water, but if you are using your iPhone underwater the proper calculations are probably the least of your concerns.
Q: Does its distance calculation take the altitude of the sound into account (say, from a high-up cloud)?
A: Yes, in the sense that that indeed is the actual distance it is measuring. No, in the sense that it doesn’t tell you how far away it is from the perspective of ground level. That would require even more math, along with some way to determine the altitude of the sound. In other words, it would be hard.
Q: Why would anyone create such a pointless application?
A: First, having a single purpose by definition makes it not “pointless” (assuming you have a sufficiently limited definition of “point”). The application was conceived out of an unexpected desire to determine the distance to a fireworks display. Alas, the app could not be finished before the fireworks concluded, so it proved to be totally worthless in that regard. But now it stands ready to assist whenever the need arises again. For us, for you, for all of humanity.
Q: Do you really expect anyone to pay for this application?
A: No. Hence its freeness. But if you are so inclined, feel free to purchase one of our other for-sale apps (even if you don’t need it) just to help with the whole karma thing.
Q: So why bother?
A: Why indeed.
Q: What sort of support do you offer for Thunder & Lightning?
A: Very little. But hey, it’s free, so what do you expect?