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The Earth's 'Hum' - does anyone hear it?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by thistledoo, Oct 5, 2016.

  1. thistledoo

    thistledoo Senior commenter

    I had never heard of this before but for quite some time I have experienced hearing a sound, late at night that is like a generator hum, droning away in the background. I have had my ear to all our electrical appliances, I have been outside front and back and it doesn't change - it is just 'there'. Firstly, I blamed it on the hospital generators/ air conditioning as the hospital is across from us but when I 'followed' the sound it didn't get louder or less. Some nights I don't hear it. Last night it was very loud and everywhere - so much so that I had to turn on the fan in our bedroom because I was concentrating on listening to it rather than reading and going to sleep. One night last week I decided to put a few words into Google and was really surprised to find out that it is a common phenomenon (if you are sure you do not have tinnitus). I thought it was perhaps some mechanical work going on in our area. I have been pondering on the topic ever since. Lots of people, I think one article said 2 in 10 experience this low frequency sound. One woman moved house and could hear it all the time until she got to the end of her road. My O/H thinks it is probably the hospital but I am not convinced - he doesn't hear it and he is well known for listing my 'super-powers' such as my sense of smell - his sense of smell is not very good at all (another story), so he thinks my hearing is super sensitive!

    I wonder, does this affect anyone on here?
  2. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    Unless you hear it everywhere I doubt it's the Earth. I'm not so good with low frequencies but I can hear bats, pigeon scarers, those plug ins for getting rid of mice and some dog whistles.
  3. colpee

    colpee Star commenter

    Water pipes vibrating can be quite 'hummy'
    needabreak likes this.
  4. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    The search for the truth could now be over as researchers claim that microseismic activity from long ocean waves impacting the sea bed is what makes our planet vibrate and produces the droning sound.

    The pressure of the waves on the seafloor generates seismic waves that cause the Earth to oscillate, said Fabrice Ardhuin, a senior research scientist at Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France.

    The continuous waves produce sounds lasting from 13 to 300 seconds. They can be heard by a relatively small proportion of people – who are sensitive to the hums – and also by seismic instruments.

    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  5. InkyP

    InkyP Star commenter

    I hear a hum in the house and just assumed it was the freezer.
    needabreak and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  6. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    I can hear your freezer too.
  7. TCSC47

    TCSC47 Star commenter

    Hi thistle. I have mild tinnitus but it is a high frequency rather than a low one and I have got used to it. You have read up on the low one and have found that it is heard by a lot of people. Last I read, nobody was sure exactly what it was. It seems quite feasible to me that it could be a form of tinnitus, but with the huge amount of energy flowing past us in the mains supplies I also find it reasonable to assume it could be due to that. Also the Earth has all sorts of energy resonances and I don't suppose we really understand them or are even aware of some.

    I blame my tinnitus rightly or wrongly on some air experience flights I had as an air cadet in a RAF Argus transport airplane. We flew for 5 hours in the cargo hold and it was so noisy my ears were wringing for the next 8 hours! Not once but several times on summer camp. I could not sleep that night it was so bad. Looking back I am quite angry about it. As teachers we have always considered the well being of our students. It would have been simple to give out ear plugs.

    I have another fault(?) in my hearing in that I can sometimes hear ultra low frequency sound such as air conditioning, helicopters or thunderstorms. I don't actually hear the sound but something starts "clicking" in my ears. I'm pretty sure it is due to ultra low frequency because it often happens when I am standing next to a large window which I presume is resonating at the ULF. It is great for talking to pupils about sound, as a science teacher.

    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  8. s10327

    s10327 Occasional commenter

    It's amazing how, during power cuts, sounds you had no idea you were hearing stop and you notice their absence. You are clearly hearing one of those.
    needabreak likes this.
  9. T0nyGT

    T0nyGT Lead commenter

  10. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    I certainly had this as a child but I think now it was mild tinnitus which I now ignore.
  11. JosieWhitehead

    JosieWhitehead Star commenter

    Yes, I've heard it. If I happen to wake early in the morning, I often open the window and "listen to the world." I hear the hum here in Yorkshire, and couldn't understand why. I didn't know whether it was traffic, but was surprised at this at 4 am in a country area.
  12. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

  13. monicabilongame

    monicabilongame Star commenter

    There was a room in my house in South London as a kid where you could hear the hum. Only that room. We could all hear it. I think we blamed one of the factories along the river, like the sickly sweet smell first thing in on a cold morning that came from another of the factories. They've all gone now - it would be interesting to go back to that house and stand in that room and see if the hum is still there. (We didn't have central heating and the room was well away from water pipes and the fridge.)
  14. Mr_Ed

    Mr_Ed Established commenter

    On Radio 4 there has been a long-running series called 'Punt PI' where comedian Steve Punt plays the role of a pseudo private investigator looking into strange old missing person cases and sometimes other odd phenomena, it's quite an amusing show done in a light-hearted manner..

    In series nine he did an episode about this mysterious 'hum', I think it is still available, you maybe interested, thistledoo.

    See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00krfns
  15. Didactylos4

    Didactylos4 Star commenter

    I cannot understand how anyone can hear such a quiet noise amongst the sounds of nature and us humans.
    Yes I know it is possible to learn to selectively block many of those sounds (I've taught kids and adults to do that for more than 4 decades) and whilst I now have to admit to hearing losses at the higher end of the spectrum, I am able to hear low-frequency sounds rather well.
    And yet, though I have spent many many nights out in wild places far from human habitation, I have never heard this "hum"
    Flere-Imsaho likes this.
  16. thistledoo

    thistledoo Senior commenter

    Thank you for all your replies, I will continue to investigate all avenues! I originally thought railway noise (quite a way from us or a factory - again quite away from us). It could be the water pipes... I will also follow the link Mr Ed. It could be tinnitus...in my advancing years. I just wondered what you all thought.

    I didn't hear it last night!
  17. neddyfonk

    neddyfonk Lead commenter

    Pipes left on building sites can also resonate depending on wind direction / speed. There was a well documented case of an estate experiencing headaches due to ultra-low frequency sound caused that way. The military have even investigated using is as a sound weapon to destroy buildings with the same natural resonating frequency ( New Scientist circa 1970,s).
  18. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    I hug trees... out of guilt mostly... as a teacher my paper use makes me arborially genocidal.
  19. racroesus

    racroesus Star commenter

    Our mutual friend.
  20. racroesus

    racroesus Star commenter

    Trees are usually bred for paper.

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