Although most people in urban areas have never heard it, a low frequency droning sound has been driving people crazy around the world, from Taos, NM to Wellington New Zealand, and Kokomo, IN to County Kerry, Ireland and beyond since the 1950’s. Yet scientists have been unable to account for a cause during all this time.
Described as a steady noise that never goes away, it has been tied to at least 3 suicides in England, according to a report by the Daily Telegraph. Still, only 2% of the population in Bristol say they can hear it (11% in Taos report the same phenomena).
Those who are able to detect it also stated that they only hear it when indoors (most likely because it is drowned out by other urban background sounds), and that it is “louder at night than during the day.”
Depending on the area, the hum has been reported at vibrating between 40-80 hertz, and was even the subject of an “X-files” episode “Drive”, during which David Duchovney’s character, FBI Agent Fox Mulder thought that the Taos Hum was most likely caused by extremely low frequency radio waves.
While some researchers have hypothesized that it is merely caused by tinnitus (a type of ringing in the ears), it is doubtful that it would occur among so many in such a vast amount of distance so constantly. In addition, there is a dispute among those who are able to pick up the noise as to where they hear it the most. Some claim it is worse inside their houses, while others say it is equally disturbing both indoors and outdoors. And while part of the population only report hearing it at home, others say it follows them wherever they go.
In the meantime, an article published in the June 2008 edition of Proceedings of the Royal Society claimed that researchers had traced the sounds to an “energetic source area extending from the Labrador Sea to south of Iceland, where wind patterns are especially conducive to generating oppositely traveling waves of same period, and the ocean depth is favorable for efficient microseism generation through the ‘organ pipe’ resonance of the compression waves.”
Similarly, USArray Earthscope claims to have traced the hum to noises created by the crashing of waves together that echo along the floor of the ocean of the northwest coast of North America. However, this does not explain why the sound can be heard in remote inland areas around the planet hundreds of miles away.
Editor’s note: Readers with their own theories are invited to share them as well.