A Mysterious Sound Is Driving People Insane And Nobody Knows What's Causing It
Dr. Glen MacPherson doesn't remember the first time he heard the sound
. It may have started at the beginning of 2012, a dull, steady droninglike that of a diesel engine idling down the street from his house inthe Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. A lecturer at the University ofBritish Columbia and high school teacher of physics, mathematics andbiology, months passed before MacPherson realized that the noise, whichhe'd previously dismissed as some background nuisance like car trafficor an airplane passing overhead, was something abnormal.
"Once I realized that this wasn't simply the ambient noise of livingin my little corner of the world, I went through the typical stages andsteps to try to isolate the sources," MacPherson told Mic
. "Iassumed it may be an electrical problem, so I shut off the mains to theentire house. It got louder. I went driving around my neighborhoodlooking for the source, and I noticed it was louder at night."
Exasperated, MacPherson turned his focus to scientific literature andpored over reports of the mysterious noise before coming across an article
by University of Oklahoma geophysicist David Deming in the Journal ofScientific Exploration, a peer-reviewed academic journal devoted toexploring topics outside of mainstream science. "I almost dropped mylaptop," says MacPherson. "I was sure that I was hearing the Hum."
"The Hum" refers to a mysterious sound heard in places around theworld by a small fraction of a local population. It's characterized by apersistent and invasive low-frequency rumbling or droning noise oftenaccompanied by vibrations. While reports of "unidentified hummingsounds" pop up in scientific literature dating back to the 1830s, modernmanifestations of the contemporary hum have been widely reported bynational media in the United Kingdom, the United States and Australiasince the early 1970s.
Regional experiences of the phenomenon vary, and the Hum isoften prefixed with the region where the problem centers, like the"Windsor Hum" in Ontario, Canada, the "Taos Hum" in New Mexico, or the"Auckland Hum" for Auckland, New Zealand. Somewhere between 2 and 10% ofpeople can hear the Hum, and inside isolation is no escape. Mostsufferers find the noise to be more disturbing indoors and at night.Much to their dismay, the source of the mysterious humming is virtuallyuntraceable.
While the uneven experience of the Hum in local populationshas led some researchers to dismiss it as a "mass delusion," thenuisance and pain associated with the phenomenon make delusion adissatisfying hypothesis. Intrigued by the mysterious noise, MacPhersonlaunched The World Hum Map and Database
in December 2012 to collect testimonies of other Hum sufferers and track its global impact (he now also moderates a decade-old Yahoo forum
along with Deming).
MacPhersonquickly discovered that what to him was a strange rumbling was actuallyhaving pernicious effects on hundreds of people, from headaches toirritability to sleep deprivation. There are reports
thatweeks of insomnia caused by the Bristol Hum drove at least three U.K.residents to suicide. "It completely drains energy, causing stress andloss of sleep," a sufferer told a British newspaper in 1992. "I havebeen on tranquilizers and have lost count of the number of nights I havespent holding my head in my hands, crying and crying." Thousands ofpeople around the world have shared similar experiences of the Hum;some, like MacPherson, are devoting their time to finally uncovering itssource.