Almost Educational: What’s The Deal – The Hum

The new show on URY, Almost Educational, a pool of science facts and chat – Wednesdays @ 4pm on ury.org.uk

From 1999 in Kokomo, Indiana, a low and constant rumble began to cause headaches in local residents. Try as they might no one managed to identify the source of this noise.

In 2011, the sleepy village of Woodland, Durham was awoken by the noise too. Each night there would be multiple complaints of a low throbbing hum, that builds, builds, and stops. Only half the village complained of the sound, it was totally inaudible on the other side. 

Initial local residents blamed the wind whistling through the mines but at 40 foot deep, that explanation is unlikely.

In October 2013, in a suburb of Southampton, residents complained of an etherial low-frequency noise at night. The number of disturbances tripled in the following weeks.

The Hum is a reasonably well-catalogued phenomenon that we don’t really understand yet. It’s been seen all over the world being referred to as The Taos Hum, The Bristol Hum, or just simply, The Hum.

While a spooky phenomenon the noise has been a genuine problem for the people who live around it. Many complain of headaches and even insanity.

In 2002 a Kokomo, resident told ABC News;

“I think we all know something was starting to go drastically wrong about two years ago, It went from a headache to a never-ending headache.” 

And of course, this painful result along with its obscurness has given rise to a host of conspiracy theories.

The noise itself is said to range from between 10 and 200Hz and peak just about 12 Db above the lower limit for humans. All told this means it’s about 2-4% of the population can actually hear it. 

There have been a handful of studies regarding The Hum and no one seems to be able to quite pinpoint its origin. 

One explanation often put forward is those subjected having tinnitus, there are a few problems with this however, 32% of people suffer from tinnitus for one. Why can’t all of them hear the noise? On top of that if you do have tinnitus you’ll know it’s manifested by an annoying high pitched whine.

Another possible explanation is electrical interference. It’s known that electronics and high voltage transformers let out a hum, especially perceptible to electronic sound recording equipment. The issue with this explanation is regarding locality. We’ve seen reports of The Hum throughout widespread cities. Further to this, The Hum isn’t recorded everywhere there’s high voltage electrical equipment. That being said it tends to be heard in cities so perhaps its the urban soundscape obscuring The Hum from most people.

Of course, we can always fall back on the classic conspiracies ranging from people believing their being targeted by the government attempting to disrupt them for being a whistleblower, to testing military aircraft.

So are supernatural forces to blame, or aliens, secret government testing sights. Well no probably not. While we can’t say for sure what may cause The Hum, we know people are experiencing it, Placebo it may but a problem it remains.

Colin Roitt, Almost Educational, URY

You can listen to Almost Educational on Wednesdays at 4pm at ury.org.uk

Sources and Resources:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7KBc-hKY5A

https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2019/mar/13/what-is-the-mysterious-gl-hum-and-is-it-simply-noise-pollution

https://web.archive.org/web/20141222092803/http://www.noiseandhealth.org/article.asp?issn=1463-1741;year=2004;volume=6;issue=23;spage=59;epage=72;aulast=Leventhall

https://www.npr.org/2011/06/15/137205551/english-village-cant-figure-out-whats-causing-that-hum?t=1572117188901

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hum

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