Hearing 'The Hum'

By Bill Moore

Posted: 03 Nov 2011

Do you wake up at night and hear a throbbing, distant drone that sounds like a slow moving diesel locomotive or maybe a powerful, but faraway industrial generator? Have you gone outside to try and trace the source only to have it disappear?

If you have, you're probably hearing the "Hum," an inexplicable but worldwide sensory phenomenon that seems to effect people starting in their mid-40's and involving women more than men. Despite numerous attempts to isolate and identify the 'Hum' modern, super-sensitive acoustic devices can't pick it up. It literally appears to be in our heads.

The "Hum" first received media attention in Britain in the 1970's, in particular in and around the port city of Bristol on the west coast. It henceforth became known as the "Bristol Hum," but newspaper readers across the the island also reported hearing it.

The towns of Taos, New Mexico and Kokomo, Indiana in the United States also gained notoriety when their residents reported hearing the "Hum." But like the UK, people all over North America, as well as pretty much around the planet report "hearing" the same mechanical-sounding, very low frequency "noise" that really isn't there, at least acoustically.

As I write this in my home office here in a suburb of Omaha, I can also hear the Hum. Actually, I started noticing it some time back, assuming it was just some industrial equipment running somewhere, but at 3 AM in the morning? At that hour of the night, you imagine all sorts of craziness. We live near Offutt AFB and I imaged that maybe deep below my home the military was craving out a vast, secret underground complex. Or weirder still, that we actually do live in a "Matrix" and what we're all hearing -- those of us in the 45 to 75 age range who appear to be the majority of the people who can sense the "Hum" -- is the machinery running our "dream machine" a la Neo in the movie of the same name. Then I fall back to sleep and dismiss the whole crazy notion.

Well, last week, I decided to talk to my wife about it, as well as do some research on the phenomenon just to prove to myself that I am not crazy… okay maybe a little. Turns out lots of us hear it and pretty well describe it in similar terms.

Dr. David Deming with the University of Oklahoma describes the Hum as "comparable to the sound of a distant diesel engine idling." He wrote a paper about it for the Journal of Scientific Exploration paper entitled, The Hum: An Anomalous Sound Heard Around the World.

The Hum is a mysterious and untraceable sound that is heard in certain locations around the world by two to ten percent of the population…. The source of the Hum has never been located. The Hum does not appear to be a form of tinnitus and may not even ben an acoustic sound. More than just a noise, the Hum is also capable of manifesting as vibrations felt throughout the body and is often accompanied by a suite of physical symptoms that includes headaches, nausea, and pain in the ears.

While I suffer from tinnitus, this does not appear to be related to it since people who do not have this problem also claim to hear it, or maybe better phrased, "sense" it.

One researcher in the UK believes the source of the Hum is the interaction between the electric power grid and Earth's magnetic field. Sources such as cellphone towers, LORAN, HAARP and TACAOM, all man-made electron systems have been ruled out. although research during World War Two in Britain found that some people could actually hear radar. Subsequent research has demonstrated it's possible to hear certain types of electromagnetic pulses. The latest theory has to do with the interaction of North Pacific ocean waves pounding the American coastline starting in Alaska and their transmission as very low frequency waves through the Earth's crust. Typically, the Hum is heard only inside buildings, which may be acting as resonating cavities, especially if they have basements,which my house does.

Whatever the source, I've decided to think of the Hum as the sound Earth makes and that those of us who can hear it are privileged to be able to eavesdrop on it. So, if you're one of those few who can sense this pulsing, throbbing song, count yourself lucky. The rest of the planet just thinks we're bonkers.

BTW... Dr. Deming has set up a Yahoo group forum on The Hum at http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/humforum/

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