Those who have heard it describe it as a low-frequency, rumbling sound, similar to a large diesel truck idling nearby. Hearing protection does not appear to help, and it is frequently worse at night. But what is the enigmatic phenomenon known as the hum?
There is an unexplained global phenomenon known as “the hum,” which is only heard by about 2-4% of the world’s population. The phenomenon was first observed in the 1970s, and possible causes include industrial environments, neurological issues, tinnitus, and fish.
The Mysterious Epidemic
Low-frequency sounds can harm one’s health, and this perplexing hum is no exception. Hum-hearers have reported headaches, nausea, insomnia, fatigue, and memory loss. The noises are also somewhat localized. There’s the Taos, New Mexico hum, the Bristol, England hum, and the Largs, Scotland hum. There has been little research into the phenomenon, and the few studies that have been conducted lack definitive answers.
Residents of Windsor, Ontario, began hearing an intermittent hum around 2011, which sometimes lasted several hours. Following numerous citizen complaints, including multiple reports of health problems, the Canadian government funded a study to investigate the issue in 2013.
A group of researchers led by Colin Novak, an associate professor of engineering at the University of Windsor, reported that the Windsor hum was a natural sound — an acoustic wave with a frequency of about 35 hertz that propagated through the air. Its true origin was a little more challenging to track down.
The researchers believe it came from a blast furnace in the United States. Zug Island is an industrial site southwest of Detroit, Michigan, and across the border from Windsor. But they can’t be sure.
We never found the definitive smoking gun, but all the evidence seems to point toward that being the source. I wish we could have taken the study a little bit further. However, we didn’t cooperate with the industry or the government on the US side. Then on the Canadian side, we had a political party change and the new party in power was less interested in pursuing it.Colin Novak, Psychoacoustics
What Causes The Hum?
Most Hum researchers are confident that the phenomenon is real and not resulting from mass hysteria or hearers’ hypochondria, or extraterrestrials beaming signals to Earth from their spaceships.
As with the Kokomo Hum, industrial equipment is frequently suspected as the source of the hum. In one case, Leventhall could pinpoint the noise source as a neighboring building’s central heating unit.
High-pressure gas lines, electrical power lines, and wireless communication devices are suspected sources. However, in only a few instances has a Hum been linked to a mechanical or electrical source.
Some speculate that the Hum is caused by low-frequency electromagnetic radiation that only some people can hear. There have also been confirmed cases of individuals having specific sensitivities to signals outside the normal range of human hearing.
Medical experts quickly point out that tinnitus, the perception of sound in the absence of external noise, is a possible cause, but repeated testing has revealed that many hearers have normal hearing and no occurrences of tinnitus.
Environmental factors have also been blamed, including seismic activity such as microseisms and faint, low-frequency earth tremors caused by ocean wave action.
For example, military experiments and submarine communications have yet to bear fruit. For the time being, those who hear the Hum must rely on white-noise machines and other devices to reduce or eliminate the annoying noise.
Leventhall suggests that some Hum sufferers seek cognitive-behavioral therapy to alleviate their symptoms and is skeptical that the puzzle will be solved anytime soon. (Source: NBC News)