From as far back as 2008, video recordings of strange and eerie sounds have been appearing on the internet. They occasionally garner a mention in the media but are generally ignored or explained away as a ‘hoax’, the result of “secret government weapons”, the “activation of HAARP” or “HAARP-like technologies”, the by-product of “top secret construction work on underground bases”, or “aliens”, etc., etc.
Variously described as groaning, metallic, clashing, clanging and trumpet-like, these (usually loud and pronounced) noises seem to come from the sky but generally reverberate in such a way that listeners are unable to make out from which general direction they come.
These ‘strange sky sounds’ have been observed all over the globe and first really caught the public’s attention in 2011, when a spate of events sparked such widespread interest that significant effort was made to discredit the phenomenon through the dissemination of fake recordings.
Some, certainly, are hoaxes. That’s human nature; we mock that which we do not understand. But the sheer proliferation of ‘strange sound events’ in recent years, the similarities (with minor differences) between them, and the diversity of the locations they’ve been recorded in (sometimes more than once), speaks to there being a global reality to this phenomenon. In the course of tracking and reporting these events on SOTT, we’ve noticed that they tend to come in waves; there can be ‘silence’ for some time, then 4 or 5 ‘strange sounds’ events occur in disparate locations (perhaps within the same region or continent) in the time span of a week or fortnight. And, as best we can tell, this trend seems to be increasing.
Here is our ‘best of’ strange sounds summary video, comprising some events from around the world in 2016. Please excuse the occasional foul language – muting or otherwise distorting it would have interfered with the strange sounds themselves. Besides, hearing them curse and swear, you get a real sense of the observers’ astonishment!
Our best guess for now is that these sounds are some kind of transduced extra-low frequency radio waves or infrasound, which we wouldn’t normally be able to hear if it weren’t for some relatively recent environmental changes, perhaps – in part – changes in Earth’s upper atmosphere. These waves seem to interact with other electromagnetic factors in, on and around the planet, causing them to be amplified and converted into audible sound waves.
If you’re interested in learning some more of the science behind this, check out our ‘Bonus’ at the end of the article – an excerpt from our colleagues’ book on this and other ‘Earth Changes’ phenomena.
Besides just hearing these sounds, there have been several reports of accompanying physical and psychological effects on eyewitnesses.
I don’t recall dreaming about aliens, nor about 2012. Nothing like that. It was more so about the circumstances of yesterday’s event and how I felt enormous pressure from the community to maintain my integrity. It was as if a hundred voices had questions all at the same time – people yelling in my ear saying that I was lying, or that they were frightened and wondering where they needed to go for their family’s safety. It all became so much that I had to start yelling back. And that’s when I woke up.
In March of 2014, another eyewitness reported that he became “sick to my stomach” after walking outside to listen to the noise. Another reported, after hearing these sounds in October of 2010, having an ‘out of body experience’ that made them physically ill, including a sensitivity to ‘electrical noise’. The effects on this person’s health were such that they sought medical treatment. Another reported a “heavy headache” after hearing these sounds in August of 2012, and experienced “waves of heat” in his body for “almost 3 hours”. Another reported that her head hurt during the event she experienced in March of last year.
Along with understandable anxiety and stress from hearing these bizarre sounds, these eyewitnesses could be experiencing a physical reaction to infrasound, which can literally make people sick (headaches, nausea, dizziness) and have other adverse health effects. A 2004 study demonstrated that a person exposed to infrasound can experience headaches, and feel tired and fretful; exposure can also cause changes to blood pressure and heart-rate.
At a 2003 British Association science conference, scientists report some effects and reactions to low frequency sound waves embedded in music:
Lord and Wiseman played four contemporary pieces of live music, including some laced with infrasound, at a London concert hall and asked the audience to describe their reactions to the music.
The audience did not know which pieces included infrasound, but 22 percent reported more unusual experiences when it was present in the music.
Their unusual experiences included feeling uneasy or sorrowful, getting chills down the spine or nervous feelings of revulsion or fear.
“These results suggest that low frequency sound can cause people to have unusual experiences even though they cannot consciously detect infrasound,” said Wiseman, who presented his findings to the British Association science conference.
One of the pioneers of infrasound research was French scientist Vladimir Gareau, whose staff experienced inexplicable ear pain and nausea while doing robotics research. This discovery led to a more nefarious exploration into infrasound and infrasonics. You can read more about it in the book, Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear.
New, but old
What we do know is that there are historical accounts by ancient chroniclers of ‘strange sky sounds’ that contain similar descriptions to what people are hearing around the world today. A Book of Prodigies: After the 505th year of Rome, for example, by Julius Obsequens, who wrote:
Consulship of Tiberius Gracchus and Manius Iuventius – BC 163
At Capua the sun was seen by night. On the Stellate Plain part of a flock of wethers was struck dead by a thunderbolt. At Tarracina, male triplets were born. At Formiae two suns were seen by day. The sky was afire. At Antium a man was burned up by a ray of light from a mirror. At Gabii there was a rain of milk. Several things were overthrown by lightning on the Palatine. A swan glided into the temple of Victory and eluded the grasp of those who tried to capture it. At Privernum a girl was born without any hands. In Cephallenia a trumpet seemed to sound from the sky. There was a rain of earth. A windstorm demolished houses and laid crops flat in the fields. There was frequent lightning. By night an apparent sun shone at Pisaurum. At Acere a pig was born with human hands and feet, and children were born with four feet and four hands. At Forum Aesi an ox was uninjured by flame which sprang from its own mouth.
Here’s another one:
Consulship of Gaius Marius and Lucius Valerius – BC 100
A blazing meteor was seen far and wide at Tarquinii, falling in a sudden plunge. At sunset a circular object like a shield was seen to sweep across from west to east. In Picenum houses were flattened in pieces by an earthquake, while some, torn from their foundations, remained standing out of plumb. A clash of arms was heard from the depths of the earth. Gilded four-horse chariots in the Forum sweated at the feet. The runaway slaves in Sicily were butchered in battles.
~ From Pliny’s Natural History II. 34 
Without a doubt, these sounds are mysterious. As far as ‘the hard science’ goes, they are begging for real scientific study (like so many other phenomena, both ‘new’ and ‘known’), and not to just be dismissed as ‘quackery’. We live in ‘interesting times’, when the dominant public discourse is often completely fake – that is, 180° reversed from reality. With such ‘omens’, Mother Nature is apparently asking humanity to reconsider more than just our faith in the socio-political reality as dictated by the established authorities, but the very boundaries of what is and is not ‘real’…
We’re including here an excerpt from Chapter 29 of the book Earth Changes and the Human-Cosmic Connection, researched and written by our colleagues, which looks into these strange sounds in more detail:
While we’ve abbreviated these sounds to ‘sky sounds’, it’s actually unclear where they are coming from. Eyewitnesses generally describe them as emanating ‘from the sky’ or ‘from the ground’, i.e. underground. They are brief, lasting just a few minutes at a time; and they are localized, though they appear to occur in diverse locations simultaneously or in clusters.
One of the few scientists quoted on the topic in the media is Elchin Khalilov, an Azerbaijani geophysicist:
In our opinion, the source of such powerful and immense manifestation of acoustic-gravity waves must be very large-scale energy processes. These processes include powerful solar flares and huge energy flows generated by them, rushing towards Earth’s surface and destabilizing the magnetosphere, ionosphere and upper atmosphere. Thus, the effects of powerful solar flares: the impact of shock waves in the solar wind, streams of corpuscles and bursts of electromagnetic radiation are the main causes of generation of acoustic-gravitation waves following increased solar activity.
Given the surge in solar activity as manifested in the higher number and energy of solar flares since mid-2011, we can assume that there is a high probability of impact of the substantial increase in solar activity on the generation of the unusual humming coming from the sky.
While Khalikov is certainly onto something, he’s also leading the reader astray by blaming these strange sounds on “the surge in solar activity as manifested in the higher number and energy of solar flares since mid-2011.” Note that Khalikov refers to solar flares, not sunspots. So let’s check solar flare activity in recent years.
As shown in the image above, solar flare activity has (timidly and erratically) increased since 2011 (green vertical line), although, as we’ve already seen, we’re in an unusually weak solar cycle (SC24) that was preceded by another weak cycle before it (SC23).
Strange sounds have been reported since 2009. Since then, there have been between 0 and 450 solar flares per month. If, as stated by Khalikov, the increase in flare activity is the cause of strange sounds, why then were they not reported in 2000 when monthly solar flare activity ranged between 400 and 800?
In addition to pointing to the wrong cause, Khalikov does a major disservice by implying that the Sun is unusually active at this time, when the truth is just the opposite.
However, “[the destabilization of] the magnetosphere, ionosphere and upper atmosphere” mentioned by Khalikov appears to be a valid and useful observation. These ‘strange sounds’ do appear to be some form of electrophonic phenomenon.
These are not acoustically propagated sounds, such as those heard seconds or minutes after the sighting of a meteor fireball. Also, electrophonic sounds shouldn’t be confused with electrophonic hearing, which is due to the passage of an electric current (of a particular frequency and intensity) through the human body.
Electrophonic sounds were first described by astronomer Edmund Halley who collected accounts of the large 1719 meteor fireball that was observed over England. Numerous witnesses reported hissing sounds as the fireball passed, as if it had been very close by. But according to Halley’s triangulation calculations, the fireball passed 60 miles overhead. At this altitude, sound takes about five minutes to reach the Earth’s surface. So how was it possible to explain the fact that witnesses simultaneously heard and saw this meteor? Halley dismissed this as sheer fantasy on the part of the eyewitnesses’, due to ‘an affrighted imagination’, and his conclusion became scientific consensus for centuries, despite recurring observations of electrophonic sounds accompanying meteor fireballs.
During the 1940s, some scientists started reconsidering the problem in terms of physics, and by the 1980s Australian physicist Colin Keay demonstrated that fireballs can indeed produce electrophonic sounds. Keay found that, in addition to generating light, fireballs also emit very low frequencies (VLF), which travel at light speed, hence the simultaneous visual and auditory perceptions reported above. In 1988, Watanabe et al achieved the first detection of a VLF signal from a meteor fireball.
These VLF are due to turbulences generated in the geomagnetic field (i.e. Earth’s magnetic field) by the magnetic influence of the fireball. This is not a mechanical phenomenon, but an electromagnetic one: the fireball not only creates turbulence in the surrounding air (i.e. a sonic boom), but also electromagnetic radiation, which creates turbulence in the surrounding geomagnetic field (VLF). VLF radio waves cannot be heard by humans, of course. However, VLF sound waves match part of the normal human auditory range.
The electrophonic sounds produced by meteors are usually reported as a hissing or crackling sound; however, they can cover a whole variety of sounds and frequencies. Keay demonstrated in lab experiments how meteors could generate VLFs and also how these VLFs could be then transduced into audible sounds. The human body itself can act as a transducer, but external transduction enabled by a nearby object (like a pair of glasses or an antenna for example) is more effective than transduction occurring within the ear.
The previously mentioned ‘opening up’ of the Earth can be the source of electrophonics. Most of the Earth’s crust can become highly conductive if subjected to mechanical stress/shock, and this high conductivity might very well produce turbulence in the electromagnetic field of the Earth, both underground and in the atmosphere. Maybe when rocks ‘wake up’, they don’t just sparkle and glow as indicated by Freund, maybe, under the right circumstances, they also sing?
This would explain why numerous testimonies state that the sound ‘came from ground level’ or from several locations or from a nearby location, or from the sky, or ‘everywhere and nowhere’. Keay also mentions that people’s sensitivity to electrophonic sounds is variable, perhaps explaining why some people report hearing an electrophonic sound and others don’t, despite being present in the same location.
Some fundamentalist Christians identify these sounds with the ‘Trumpet of Jericho’. Actually, this last explanation may hold a grain of truth, particularly if the story of Jericho records a mythicized meteoric event. In such a scenario, meteoric or seismic electrophonic sounds might have eventually come to be remembered as ‘trumpet-like’, and the subsequent destruction of the walls of the city due to cometary bombardment-induced earthquake and fire might have later been transformed in the biblical narrative into an attack by the Israelite army.
The Old Testament’s Jericho is not an isolated example. From John’s Revelations to Ovid’s Metamorphosis, the New Testament’s Acts, Homer’s Iliad, chronicles of the Ancient Roman Empire, and numerous myths and legends, ancient and historical accounts have associated blasting horns and trumpets with mass destruction.
“…still they gave no uncertain portents of the woe that was at hand. They say that the clashing of arms amid the dark storm-clouds and fear-inspiring trumpets and horns heard in the sky forewarned men of the crime…”
~ Ovid, Metamorphosis, Book 15 (8 AD)
“They fell on one another with a mighty uproar – Earth groaned, and the spacious firmament rang out as with a blare of trumpets.”
~ Homer, Iliad, Book XXI
Often associated with such sounds were images of ‘fire-breathing’ dragons and gods bringing death and destruction with their thunderbolts, rocks, fire and brimstone. As shown by astrophysicists Clube and Napier, among others, these are most likely depictions and memories of ancient encounters with comets, from a time when such heavenly occurrences were much more frequent and dramatic.
In addition to eerie noises, electrophonics may also trigger mutations within living creatures, including humans, even in the absence of mutagenic radiation, as explained in the following excerpt from a study of the 1908 Tunguska event:
Some genetic anomalies were reported in the plants, insects and people of the Tunguska region. Remarkably, the increased rate of biological mutations was found not only within the epicenter area, but also along the trajectory of the Tunguska Space Body (TSB). At that no traces of radioactivity were found, which could be reliably associated with the Tunguska event. The main hypotheses about the nature of the TSB, a stony asteroid, a comet nucleus or a carbonaceous chondrite, readily explain the absence of radioactivity but give no clues how to deal with the genetic anomaly. A choice between these hypotheses, as far as the genetic anomaly is concerned, is like to the choice between ‘blue devil, green devil and speckled devil,’ to quote late Academician N.V. Vasilyev. However, if another mysterious phenomenon, electrophonic meteors, is evoked, the origin of the Tunguska genetic anomaly becomes less obscure.
In conclusion, alongside atmospheric dust, surface impacts, overhead explosions, electromagnetic pulses and airborne viruses, electrophonic sounds are another documented effect of meteors.
As noted, meteors are not the only phenomena that can generate electrophonic sounds. Earthquakes, lightning and Northern lights (Aurora Borealis) have been shown to be sources of electrophonics also. They display a strong electromagnetic activity that explains the disruption of the geomagnetic field and the emission of VLF. More globally, any significant change in the electromagnetic environment of the planet might induce turbulence in the geomagnetic field.
The association between electrophonic sound and disasters in general (and cometary activity in particular) has been repeatedly mentioned in ancient texts. It seems that what we are currently experiencing is nothing new; just another wave of cosmic changes and subsequent earthly destruction.
And, once again the elite rulers are trying to depict this phenomenon as man-made, harmless and unrelated to anything else of any import, whereas these sounds are in fact intimately related to the ongoing cosmic changes and are associated with very destructive natural events.
For an in-depth look at some earlier cases, check out our SOTT Report from January 2012: Strange Noises in the Sky: Trumpets of the Apocalypse?
Niall Bradley has a background in political science and media consulting, and has been an editor and contributing writer at SOTT.net for 8 years. His articles are cross-posted on his personal blog, NiallBradley.net. Niall is co-host of the ‘Behind the Headlines’ radio show on the Sott Radio Network and co-authored Manufactured Terror: The Boston Marathon Bombings, Sandy Hook, Aurora Shooting and Other False-Flag Terror Attacks with Joe Quinn.
Meg MacDonald has a background in legal aid and insurance. Hailing from the Lone Star State, Meg dislikes fake news so much, she got into the true news business and became a contributing editor to SOTT.net in 2013. She loves the great outdoors, true friends, horses, and studies alternative health methods & treatments in her spare time.
Shortly after Glen MacPherson started hearing strange humming noises, he created the World Hum and Database Project so people around the world could document their own experiences with the Hum.
Lecturer, University of British Columbia
June 20, 2016The author began hearing the sound at night, between the hours of 10 and 11 p.m.
In the spring of 2012, when I was living near the coastal village of Sechelt, on British Columbia’s picturesque Sunshine Coast, I began hearing a humming sound, which I thought were float planes.
The noise usually started later at night, between 10 and 11 p.m. My first clue that something unusual was happening came with the realization that the sound didn’t fade away, like plane noises typically do. And the slightest ambient noise – exhaling audibly, even turning my head quickly – caused it to momentarily stop. One night after the sound started I stepped outside the house. Nothing.
I was the only person in the house who could hear it; my family said they didn’t know what I was talking about.
Naturally, I assumed something in the house was the culprit, and I searched for the source in vain. I even ended up cutting the power to the entire house. The sound got louder.
While I couldn’t hear the sound outdoors, I could still hear it in my car at night with the windows closed and the ignition off. I drove for miles in every direction, and it was still there in the background when I stopped the car. I was able to rule out obvious sources: industrial activity, marine traffic, electric substations and highway noise.
When I searched on the internet for “unusual low-frequency humming noise,” I soon realized that others had conducted the same search. I was part of the small fraction of people who can hear what is called the “Worldwide Hum” or, simply, the “Hum.”
The questions motivating me and thousands of others were the same: “What’s causing this? Can it be stopped?”
The classic description of the Hum is that it sounds like a truck engine idling. For some, it’s a distant rumbling or droning noise. It can start and stop suddenly or wax and wane over time. For others, the Hum is loud, relentless and life-altering.
I eventually came across one of the few serious papers on the topic. It was written in 2004 by geoscientist David Deming (who’s also a Hum hearer).
Deming began by describing the standard history: The Hum was first documented in the late 1960s, around Bristol, England. It first appeared in the United States in the late 1980s, in Taos, New Mexico.
He then examined the competing hypotheses for the source of the Hum. Many have pointed to the electric grid or cellphone towers. But this theory is dismissed on two grounds: cellphones didn’t exist in the 1960s, and the frequency emitted by both cell towers and the electric grid can be easily blocked by metal enclosures.
He wondered whether mass hysteria was to blame, a psychological phenomenon in which rumor and “collective delusions” lead to the appearance of physical ailments for which there’s no medical explanation. The fact that so many people have researched the Hum on their own, using a search engine – rather than hearing about it from some other person – moves the conversation away from delusion and hysteria spread by word of mouth.
Deming looked at the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP), an isolated military compound in Alaska that uses radio waves to study outer space and for testing advanced communication techniques – and a favorite focus of conspiracy theorists, who have accused the facility of acts ranging from mind control to weather control. He studied the possibility of otoacoustic emissions, which are naturally occurring sounds caused by the vibration of hair cells in the ear.
Deming eventually fingered Very Low Frequency (VLF) radio waves (between 3 kHz and 30 kHz) as the most likely culprit. The world’s military powers use massive land-based and airborne transmitters on these frequencies in order to communicate with submerged submarines. Radio waves at these frequencies can penetrate up to a solid inch of aluminum.
In the paper, Deming proposes a simple and elegant experiment for testing this hypothesis. Hum hearers randomly enter three identical-looking boxes. The first box blocks VLF radio signals, the second box is an anechoic (soundproof) chamber and the third box is the control.
He left the experiment for others to pursue, and while there are some practical difficulties with the design, Deming’s overall concept has motivated the experiments I am currently conducting.
A plethora of pseudoscience and wild conspiracy theories has the potential to drown out the serious work in this area. I’ve encountered seemingly serious people who have argued that the Hum is caused by tunneling under the earth, the electronic targeting of specific individuals, aliens and mating fish.
Given the need for disciplined inquiry into the phenomenon, in late 2012 I started The World Hum Map and Database Project. The database gathers, documents and maps detailed and anonymous information from people who can hear the Hum. It provides raw data for research in a strictly moderated and serious forum for research and commentary, while providing a sense of community for people whose lives have been negatively affected by the Hum.
Most people have some experience with how disruptive some types of noises can be, which is why there are often noise ordinances in many cities and towns, especially at night. There are many sufferers who dread the nighttime because of how loud and relentless the Hum can be. The Hum database is replete with descriptions of desperate people who have been tormented by the noise for years. The phrase “driving me crazy” is all too common. (I feel fortunate that, in my case, the Hum is more of a curiosity than it is an irritant.)
The project also aims to validate and normalize the phenomenon by discussing it alongside other widely reported auditory phenomena, such as tinnitus, a relatively common medical condition that causes people to hear high-pitched squealing tones. Those who experience tinnitus and also the Hum report the two as being completely different in character.
The latest update of the Hum Map, from June 6, presents roughly 10,000 map and data points, and we’ve already made some notable findings.
For example, we’ve found that the mean and median age of Hum hearers is 40.5 years, and 55 percent of hearers are men. This goes against the widely repeated theory that the Hum mainly affects middle-aged and older women.
Interestingly, there are eight times as many ambidextrous people among hearers as there are in the general population. As more data are collected from Hum hearers, I hope that specialists in demographics and inferential statistics will be able to generate more detailed results.
The historical record of the Hum is crucial, because if the current version as narrated by Deming is correct, many theories can immediately be ruled out. After all, cellphones and HAARP didn’t exist until decades after the Worldwide Hum was first documented in England in the late 1960s. I currently have a researcher digging into the Times of London digital archive to search for mentions of the Hum going back to the 18th and 19th centuries. If convincing examples are found, then the direction of my research will shift dramatically because all modern technologies could be ruled out.
In my view, there are currently four hypotheses for the source of the world Hum that survive the most superficial scrutiny.
The first hypothesis – argued by Deming and the one I’m currently pursuing – is that the Hum is rooted in Very Low Frequency (VLF) radio transmissions. It’s increasingly accepted now that the human body will sometimes experience electromagnetic (EM) energy and interpret it in a way that creates sounds. This was established for high-frequency EM energy by the American neuroscientist Alan Frey in his infamous “microwave hearing” experiments, which showed that certain radio frequencies can actually be heard as sounds.
Today, there are biophysical models that predict and explain the impact VLF EM energy has on living tissue. I have designed and built a VLF radio blocking box that should be able to test whether VLF radio frequencies are a prerequisite for generating the Hum.
The second hypothesis is that the Hum is the grand accumulation of low-frequency sound and human-generated infrasound (sounds with audio frequencies below roughly 20 Hz and which can be felt more than they can be heard). This includes everything from highway noise to all manner of industrial activity.
The third is that the Hum is a terrestrial or geological phenomenon that generates low-frequency sounds or perceptions of those sounds. For example, there is a well-documented history of animals predicting earthquakes and taking action to save themselves. From an evolutionary perspective, there may be survival value in having members of a population highly sensitive to some types of vibrations. When it comes to the Hum, some humans may have a similar physiological mechanism in place.
The fourth is that the Hum is an internally generated phenomenon, perhaps rooted in a particular anatomical variation, genetic predisposition or the result of toxicity and medication.
The Hum is now the subject of serious media coverage and, increasingly, scientific scrutiny. The overall goal of my project and the people who contribute to it is to find the source of the Hum and, if possible, stop it.
If the Hum is man-made, then my task is to raise public awareness and advocate turning away from the technologies that are causing it. If the source is exogenous and natural, there’s the possibility that there may be no escape from it, apart from masking it with background sounds.
Of course there is the remote possibility that one of the more exotic explanations will prove to be correct. But, as in all science, it seems best to start with what we know and is plausible, as opposed to what we don’t know and is implausible.
Glen MacPherson first heard the Hum in 2012. He was in Sechelt when he detected a low-level drone that he thought was coming from nearby float planes. Over time, he started to realize the Hum had nothing to do with planes and tried to figure out what exactly was going on. So, he did what most people do when they have an unanswered question: he Googled it.
He found out he wasn’t alone. MacPherson discovered an online community of people who say they have been hearing a mysterious drone that has been dubbed The World Hum.
“Much to my surprise, it turns out I was one of the people who can sense what seems to be a very unusual low-frequency sound,” he said.
Four years later, when curious people like MacPherson Google information about the Hum, they come across his website, The World Hum Map and Database.
MacPherson, a schoolteacher in Gibsons who has also worked as an instructor at the University of British Columbia, says he wanted to apply a measure of scientific rigour to this unexplained phenomenon, so he created the database to track reports from people around the world who say they too hear the Hum.
MacPherson has heard from thousands of people from locations as far as Iceland, New Zealand, Kazakhstan and the Philippines. The data, he admits, is skewed since the site only reaches English speakers. He plans to the translate the site into Chinese, which means he could get a flood of new data from the world’s most populous country. He says if you look at the data he has accumulated, a few things stand out.
“I caution anybody who looks at the Hum Map to not be distracted by the high concentration of points on the Eastern Seaboard of the US and, in particular, over in England. Over in England, it would appear that they’re being absolutely clobbered,” MacPherson said.
He also notes that Vancouver Island has a “significantly higher concentration of Hum reports.”
So what is the Hum?
MacPherson says the Hum may be a relatively recent phenomenon, with a significant number of reports first emerging in the late 60 and early 70s.There are three major theories as to what is causing the Hum. The main suspect is very low-frequency (VLF) radio emissions that are used by the military to communicate with submarines.
“When I say VLF, I’m not referring to sound,” MacPherson said. “That leads to another striking and startling conclusion, the fact that the Hum may not be a sound in the traditional sense. It may be the body’s reaction to a particular band of radio frequencies. That’s not an outrageous idea. The concept that the body can interpret certain electromagnetic frequencies as sound is reasonably well-established in research literature.”
Another theory is that the World Hum is “nothing more than the grand accumulation of human activity” that could include noise from highways, marine traffic, mining, windmill farms, hydroelectric dams and other forms of industry.
In 2014, a federally funded study confirmed a humming noise in Windsor, Ont., known as the Windsor Hum, emanated from an island across the Detroit River. An acoustic monitoring study showed the rumbling was real and reached Windsor from heavily industrial Zug Island in River Rouge, Mich.
However, the investigation – done by scientists at the University of Windsor and Western University – failed to pinpoint just what was causing the phenomenon. A third theory is that the noise stems from geological processes at work.
Then there’s the idea that people who hear the Hum are just suffering from tinnitus, a medical condition that results in a ringing of the ears. David Demings, a University of Oklahoma professor who was one of the first researchers to examine the Hum, noted that “Hum symptoms are distinctly different from classic tinnitus. Tinnitus is typically a high-frequency ringing sound — not a low-frequency rumble.”
“What I always like to point out about tinnitus is that it’s self-reported,” MacPherson said. “There is no external metric for it. If we believe that tinnitus is real, then the question is what differentiates it from reports of the World Hum?”
There are plenty of other more far-fetched theories out there, and MacPherson has heard them all.
“Whenever you’re dealing with something unexplained, it invites all manner of people who have creative ways of interpreting reality,” he says diplomatically.
Part of his work, he says, is using his science background to separate plausible theories from crazed conspiracies that circulate online.
“It’s plant life, it’s huge boring tunnel machines, it’s weather projects, it’s aliens,” he says. “At least we didn’t hear about the Illuminati.”
MacPherson understands that some might think that he is no different than some of the conspiracy theorists who visit his site. But he says his dedication to the scientific method is what separates him from the tinfoil-hat crowd.
What’s in the box?
A recent article in the New Republic outlined MacPherson’s experiment with a so-called Deming Box. Named after the professor who first delved into this phenomenon, the steel box is designed to “create within it a VLF radio free space.” If a person who can hear the Hum gets into the box and no longer detects the noise, that could suggest VLF radio waves are the culprit.
Shortly after the article was published, MacPherson got inside the box to see what would happen. He said he got “mixed results” and plans to move the box to an undisclosed location on the Sunshine Coast and try again.
“If I get a positive result, I’ve got a handful of volunteers on the Sunshine Coast who can hear the Hum and who are ready to go in as well,” he said.
He also plans to continue maintaining the database, which he says has helped him connect with people who are also looking for answers.
“There are large numbers of perfectly sensible, everyday individuals and this is what we all have in common. We can hear this noise.”