Monday, May 23, 2016

The Mystery of the Taos Hum

Imagine if all day long, an annoying hum played in the background. You couldn't get away from it, whether you were at home, in your office, or out with friends. It's a hum that sounds like this:



For some residents of Taos, New Mexico, the hum is an everyday way of life. An estimated two percent of the population can hear the hum, yet when equipment is set up in the homes of Taos residents who claim to be plagued by it, nothing is detected.



There have been many explanations for the phenomenon over the years. Ambient noise is present in every city and some experts believe those who hear the oscillating noise in Taos simply have exceptional hearing.



Some say it's merely an auditory hallucination.


Image Credit: TriVo for Mic

The hum isn't isolated to Taos. In fact, there are areas around the world where a small percentage of the population report hearing a low hum. In each area, the sound has a name that matches the area: the Windsor Hum, the Auckland Hum, etc.



In fact, according to Mic magazine, reported incidents of "the Hum" are extremely widespread. Here is a portion of the World Hum Map, created by Glen MacPhearson:



In some areas, the Hum has led people to commit suicide and report great pain. Even in today's rarely-silent world, it seems there's no escaping the hum if you're one of the two percent who can hear it.



Have you ever heard a strange noise nobody else could hear?

42 comments:

  1. Too many rock concerts have dulled my hearing, so I probably couldn't hear it. That would be a bit maddening to always hear it.
    If they don't detect anything, what is the recording of? A simulated sound?

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    1. Yes, that's supposed to be a simulation. But Mason can't hear it...so maybe it's the frequency that some people can't hear?

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  2. I normally hear sounds others around me can't, but I couldn't hear anything on the video (even tried it on YouTube). Sad that these sounds cause pain and even suicide.

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    1. Really? I thought everyone could hear that--that it was just a simulation. I can hear it! But there was a ringtone only younger people could hear and I could hear it (10 years ago, anyway!). I'm glad I don't live in one of those "hum" places...

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  3. I've always been curious as to what the hum was.Apparently I cannot hear it. I have never heard it. I live in the country and silence does have a sound curiously enough. You have to think about it to hear it. But it is definitely not that hum. I'm glad I am not that 2 percent. It makes me think of tinnitus.

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    1. I know electrical wires can give off a hum, right? I don't know...I live kinda country-ish and it's amazing the difference in sounds. All you hear at night here are critters and birds. In the city, the highway was near our house so you could always hear cars, plus cars driving by, doors slamming, people talking, etc...

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  4. I have never heard a "hum" like they describe but I do have Tinnitus, a constant ringing in my ears, and sometimes it's worse than other times and can be very annoying, especially when it's very quiet otherwise. Not sure what causes it but if I think about it, it seems to get worse

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    1. I worked with someone who had tinnitus. I have a slight ringing in my ears sometimes...I just assumed that was normal! The person I worked with was told to reduce his sodium intake and he said that seemed to help (his was part of Minniere's Disease or however that's spelled).

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  5. This made me think of how I've thought my phone was ringing when it wasn't. But my doctor said this was common, and that he even does it himself :-) As far as the question you asked at the end, none that I know of. If that ever did happen, I would immediately think I was going crazy, which is how I felt at first when I thought my phone was ringing when it wasn't (I was mistaking other sounds for the ringtone).

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    1. I know when I wore a Blackberry on my waistband all day at work, I'd feel that phantom buzz at night when I didn't even have it on! It was just buzzing all day. My ringtone is "Paperback Writer," so if I'm hearing music! Funny story, though--my mom's ringtone for unknown callers is The Who's "Who Are You?" Last week when we were babysitting her dog, I was watching CSI and the theme song made him jump up and run around. He thought it was her phone ringing!

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  6. Sometimes I hear humming when watching TV, like background humming on the shows. My husband hears it too sometimes though, so I know it's not just me.

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    1. Interesting! Are you sure it isn't your TV set's speakers? :-)

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  7. I enjoy white noise, so if I could hear, I'd probably not mind. But like Alex, rock music has left me saying, "huh?" a lot.

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    1. Yeah, I have a white noise app on my phone and I listen to it when I'm trying to concentrate. Or there's a video of beach sounds on YouTube that I sometimes listen to while writing. Feels like I'm writing on the beach!

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  8. Maybe the hum is the background noise from the big bang. Probably not though. But it would be cool!

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    1. Could be! Or something underground...

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  9. No...I haven't....and that phenomenon is amazing!

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    1. I only learned about it a couple of weeks ago. It is interesting!

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  10. Funny, i couldn't hear it either. Which is odd because I think there is always constant noise and hum in the background and at night I use a fan to drown it all out. A white noise to get rid of the humming, I guess.

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    1. SO weird you guys can't hear it. The noise must be a super-low frequency that some people can't hear. I can hear it very clearly! I have a white noise maker--have used the same one since childhood. (Well, I have to be a new one every few years!)

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  11. We get so used to hum that it is eerie when electric goes out

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    1. That is true...the silence can be super strange. You don't realize how much noise there is even when it's supposed to be quiet until the power goes out!

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  12. I couldn't hear anything on the recording either. I guess I'm safe!

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  13. I bet it has something to do with the Earth and gravity and all that jazz. You can tell I am not a science person. I can see where this would drive certain people nuts. If they move somewhere else, Do they still hear it? If it would stop when I move, I would move! Funny how concentrated it is in my area. Don't hear anything but my hearing isn't the best and I already have a constant ringing in my ears so maybe I am used to it.

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  14. This is creepy (and totally a great idea for a scary novel). My mother keeps telling me that I "have good ears," but I don't think I've ever heard anything that others couldn't hear. It would freak me out if I did.

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  15. I do have good hearing, and hearing a constant hum like that would drive me (more) bat shit crazy.

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  16. I've heard about things like this from time to time. Don't know if I'd be part of the 2%, but not sure I want to go somewhere and find out.

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  17. That would be strange. I have had my ears ring or heard a hum before, but nothing that lasted. One of my friends has a disorder where they constantly have ringing in their ears. I can't imagine how hard it would be to concentrate and carry on regular conversations while having the high pitched ringing! I think I would go crazy.

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  18. Weird. That would be tough to hear a hum and not have a clue where it came from. Spooky. Good idea for a story. :) Thankfully, I don't hear strange sounds. If I do, it's usually the cats prowling into something or a bird outside making unusual sounds.

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  19. Over the last two years I have been getting a bad flu that has left me with a weird noise in my ear that can sound either seashell like or grinding. It can be quite annoying and stays for either a short or long while. Had a bad flu in April so the noise is still popping up on me mostly in my left ear. It's there right now. Having that hum all the time can lead to all kinds of mental and emotional anguish.

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  20. I've recently heard about these weird hums on the world news. My hum comes from tinnitus that has developed in the past months, and it's driving my wacky. So I can imagine how people who live in those places feel...

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  21. To those others with tinnitus, I just woke up with it a year ago and searched for physical cause --ENT, Cardiologist, zilch. Looked into the new generation of hearing aids that have a "Sound masking" function. They're amazing. With a couple of those and some sessions with a competent therapist, I feel fine. Yes. I still have tinnitus but can dismiss it as easily as a refrigerator hum. It costs a bit, but truly eases suffering.

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  22. I have read about this. It is fascinating. I really am curious about its cause and purpose.

    P.S. Thanks for your comment on A Turtle Celebration. Bill is a truck driver, so all of his rescues are road finds. Mine, too, actually. It is best to leave them alone, otherwise. They know what to do.

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  23. Thankfully I don't hear a hum. I'm grateful for that too. I also didn't know about this.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  24. It makes you wonder what is going on under the earth. Some kind of vibration, probably caused by a secret experiment. It can't be imaginary if so many people are hearing it. I am very sensitive to low sounds so I'd probably hear the hum. It must drive the residents crazy. Thanks for sharing this unique situation.

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  25. Makes you wonder if they can hear the dog whistle

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  26. We forget that this planet is molten except on its very crust, and the crust is always moving, slowly but moving. Very cool.

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  27. Constant wind and too many cloudy days can drive people crazy too. I don't know if I'd be able to hear the hum, but now I'm curious ;-) My husband can't hear a timer or alarm clock beep but he can hear the slightest miss in an engine. We chalk that up to his line of work. I do hear the hum of utility lines.

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  28. Um, sometimes I hear the refrigerator making noise nobody else notices but that's about it but this would be highly annoying for sure!

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  29. Eerie. I'm glad I don't hear it. Sometimes the sounds of clocks bother me, but that's something everyone hears.

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