I found this article enlightening. However, it should be noted that similar effects can be obtained at slower speeds using a towel in a locker room.

Alan Unell
La Crescenta, Calif.

The story ended by mentioning that researchers would be continuing to work on a computer model. Here’s some additional information you may wish to pass on to them. The article mentioned that they were working only with whips that taper and thus transfer energy down to the point. However, there is another style of whip that doesn’t taper but still produces the same cracking sound. The long lunge whip used for training horses has a uniform diameter (and a popper at the end). A mathematical model based only on the tapered designs wouldn’t be complete.

Maureen Reddington-Wilde
Malden, Mass.