Hear that? Probably not.
Only a few people do – a persistent, low-frequency noise, like a vibration sound, emanating from nowhere identifiable in select geographical locations. It isn’t particularly loud but it’s definitely there, even though scientists have no idea what it is or where it comes from.
This mysterious auditory phenomenon has been aptly named. People call it “the Hum.” And it’s both pervasive and enigmatic enough to have captured the attention of researchers and communities around the world…
What Is the Hum?
Nobody knows. Neither the people who hear it nor the scientists who have studied it know for sure. Here’s what’s apparent, though…
The “Hum” is a peculiar low rumbling noise that has garnered attention in various parts of the world. People who experience it report a continuous drone-like sound. Imagine a diesel engine idling outside your home, for example, and you’re close. The hum can be heard both indoors and outdoors, although it’s usually louder inside. It’s also present at night, meaning there’s little respite from what can be an intrusive and irritating experience.
The Hum has surfaced in different corners of the globe. It’s been reported in the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, among others.
Specific areas, such as Taos in New Mexico, Kokomo in Indiana, and Windsor on the U.S.-Canada border, have gained notoriety for their association with it.
Adding to the mystery is that the Hum is not a universal experience. While it’s localized in certain places, only a small percentage of people there hear it. Indeed, an estimated 2 to 4% of the world’s population may be affected.
History of the Hum
The Hum is a relatively modern mystery.
According to the Guardian, the earliest reliable reports of it come from Bristol, in the United Kingdom. In the mid-1970s, residents started complaining of a low hum they could hear in the city. Tragically, the inescapable background noise eventually drove some to suicide.
The phenomenon seems to have grown from there. Throughout the 1980s, 90s, and noughties to the present day, reports of the Hum emerged from other countries.
What Causes the Hum?
Although nobody knows for sure what causes the Hum, many theories (some more plausible than others) have attempted to explain its origins. Here are a few of them:
Some instances of the Hum have been linked to industrial activities, such as manufacturing processes and ventilation systems. For example, the Hum mentioned earlier in Windsor, on the border of the US and Canada, apparently disappeared in 2020 when a nearby US Steel facility shut down.
Some people believe natural geological or atmospheric factors may generate the noise. For example, French scientists recently suggests the Hum could be caused by ocean waves hitting the ocean floor, causing vibrations as it shook the earth. Others have proposed it may be related to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
Another suggested possible cause of the Hum pertains to electromagnetic charges from the countless lightning strikes that hit earth each day. The theory is those charges cause the air between the Earth’s surface and the ionosphere to vibrate.
Like most unexplained phenomena, some scientists propose the Hum may have psychological or neurological origins.
The Mystery Remains Unsolved
For now, the Hum remains a mystery. Whether it’s rooted in industrial processes, natural phenomena, electromagnetic influences, or psychological factors, it continues to defy easy explanation, leaving communities and researchers alike with more questions than answers.