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Was Flash able to hear gunshots or explosions at super speed or was he deaf to his surroundings?

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Yes, sound is within the Flash's toolkit as long as his movement does not exceed the speed of sound. As soon as he does, only sounds directed at him, sounds he is heading directly at, or communication with other speedsters, remain within his ability to hear at superspeed.

The Flash is primarily a visual-stimuli hero. But he has been seen to use his hearing when he was working at subsonic speeds. In the early depictions of the Flash, sound was just as an important element as sight, helping him define his enemies, their positions and their activities.

To be perfectly honest, the short distances between the Flash and most of his opponents, he never need be to be moving faster than half the speed of sound (767 mph = 1126 fps / 2 = 550 fps) to get his work done. He can cover the distance of two football fields in a little over a second. The world would sound somewhat normal as long as he kept his speed below half the speed of sound.

As the writers ratcheted up the scale of problems the Flash had to deal with, he was forced to work faster and faster until supersonic speed was almost the norm. Once he started working at supersonic speed, sound simply wasn't an issue in many of the stories. So for the most part unless the Flash is communicating with another speedster, the Flash probably spends his time in a world that is mostly silent until he slows down to the speed of sound.

  • How could the Flash communicate with other speedsters when moving faster than sound? – Justin C Jun 9 '12 at 16:20
  • I suspect the world wouldn't sound "normal" but probably be Doppler-shifted, which may actually help detect the direction from which a sound originated. (A stationary person hearing a moving siren sounds exactly like a moving person hearing a stationary siren.) – KutuluMike Jun 9 '12 at 16:24
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    Yes, I concur. I tried not to include too much information, because people are often unhappy about the depth (and length) of my answers. Thanks for reading. – Thaddeus Howze Jun 9 '12 at 16:36
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    Communicating with other speedsters is one of those things you have to just deal with. They never explain how it's done, only that it's done. The Flash and other speedsters talk all the time even when they are moving at near-light speed. Again, I was trying to keep it simple. Sometimes, hand-waving is all comic book science leaves you with. – Thaddeus Howze Jun 9 '12 at 16:54

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