In Bristol, England, in 1970, a newspaper asked if anyone could hear a strange, continuous hum that seemed to emanate from everywhere at once. 800 people responded to the article, stating that they could indeed hear something strange, a never ending grumbling sound similar to a diesel engine idling. The sound has also been described as a squeal, a rumble, and a growl.
It seems as if every coastal population has their own version of The Hum. There’s one in Bristol, England, Windsor, Ontario, Auckland, New Zealand, Wellington, Florida, and Taos, New Mexico. The Hum in Taos began in 1990 when some residents began reporting a strange sound. It was a steady grumbling noise, similar to that of a running refrigerator. Some residents believe the sound is due to the fact that the earth’s crust is relatively thin in Taos, due in part to the fact that there were so many active volcanoes in the location, and magma flowing close to the surface of the earth is causing it. Taos supposedly sits on top of hundreds of old volcanoes. Others believe that Taos sits on top of a top secret military base and the noise is actually generators running power for the facility. Others still have the idea that a spaceship crashed into the top of a mountain. I’m not sure how that would cause a constant grumbling within the earth. Satellites, secret government projects designed to alter our state of mind, and mating fish have also been blamed, but lack actual proof.
The strangest thing about The Hum is that nobody can pinpoint where the sound is coming from. You can follow what you believe to be the source of the sound and once you’ve reached where you think it’s emanating from, it seems to be coming from somewhere completely different. 2% of the world’s population can hear it at any given time, quite a large percentage, and range in age from 55 to 70.
The University of Cambridge in the UK speculates that the sound is external, not internal. Meaning that although tinnitus sufferers might hear a constant ringing, those who hear The Hum are not experiencing an internal issue with their ears. Even though between 30-60% of adults with normal hearing, their ears still make noises that can be heard if the person is paying attention.
Joe Mullins, professor emeritus of engineering at the University of New Mexico surveyed residents of Taos and found that many of them could hear something they described as humming. He set up equipment in the “hearers” homes and ran extensive tests to measure sounds and vibrations. Though his equipment was highly sensitive, it failed to pick up any discernible sound. This led Mullins to believe the experience was entirely a personal experience and had nothing to do with outside stimuli.
So what do we make of this?
We often don’t pay enough attention to the world around us to focus on just one sound and, considering our ears can and do make their own noises, stating The Hum may be a personal experience is not so unbelievable. The Hum may be unexplained, but it is certainly not explainable. Additional research could eventually provide an answer as to what the noise actually is and where it’s coming from. It is possible that The Hum is real and generated by some unseen force, but it is also possible that The Hum exists only in the minds of those who report hearing it.
To track occurances of The Hum or to log your own experience, visit The World Hum Map and Database Project at http://thehum.info/. To explore, just click the map.
Have you heard The Hum? Do you have friends who have reported hearing it? Share your experiences with us in the comments below or shoot us an email.
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