Have you ever had tinnitus? It's a constant ringing sound inside one or both of your ears. This can be brought on by long exposure loud sounds, e.g. rock concerts, or being congested due to a cold or sinus infection. I have a very mild case of it and can usually hear the ringing at the fall of night when all is quiet (I hope) and I'm about to drift into a deep rem sleep. For others, it is the product of a loud evening and the sound usually goes away in a day or so.
You can imagine that if this internal noise were louder or more constant, it could disrupt one's life and maybe even drive a person near madness. That is exactly what has been happening in Taos, New Mexico.
For years now, a few residents of that town have reported a low, droning hum in the background of their hearing. It is constant, able to be heard anywhere at any time, but most likely to be heard while indoors. Many hum experiencers report the hum actually getting louder depending upon where they are geographically in the town. One enterprising "hearer" (as they call themselves) managed to make a recording of this noise via the use of special audio gear that can pick up very low frequencies. The hum, which sounds to me like a diesel truck idling at the end street, peaks at a frequency of only 56 hertz.
To say the least, hearers of the hum have lost sleep due to the noise, been harassed by its incessant presence, and doubted their own sanity after asking everyone they know "Do you hear that? What do you mean you don't?" And there's the rub. Why have only certain people in the town been able to hear the hum? Group psychology undoubtedly plays at least a small role. If you ask someone "do you hear that?" you have already pre-positioned them to search for a noise, any noise. Plus, the nature of the town complicates for some the ability to believe the reports. Taos has become a sort of unofficial hub of the New Age movement with many crystal devotees and people claiming to be spiritually in-tune with the frequencies of nature. Add in the meme dispersal of the Taos Hum and you've got a winner.
Still, a good many people who hear this hum are regular, work-a-day folks who just want the noise to go away. Many studies have been conducted by Federal, academic, and civil groups. Here are a few of the explanations that have been offered:
Tinnitus: While it sounds like a tidy explanation, this condition really doesn't work for the hum. For one thing, it does not account for how the hum gets stronger in various locations. Plus, the hearers have not been exposed to the type of noise necessary to cause tinnitus. Many of them don't know one another and "group tinnitus" usually happens to people who were exposed to a loud sound together (again, think rock concert.)
Colliding ocean waves: Scientists have come across a set of infrasonic hums that were the result of ocean waves crashing together. The sound travels into the seabed and is therefore transmitted across the Earth. Bit far-fetched, but I guess it could happen.
ELF: Extremely Low Frequency. These are communication signals that, as the name implies, inhabit the low end of the frequency scale. The United States Navy uses ELF in order to communicate with submarines that are deeply submerged. Seawater conducts electricity and therefore submarines are too shielded to receive EM transmissions. The exact extent to which ELF is utilized is classified.
People exposed to ELF transmissions have indeed reported the type of hum encountered in Taos as well as bad headaches. Curiously enough, some people seem to be more sensitive to ELF than others. And there are numerous military installations throughout New Mexico. My money's on this one.
Alien transmissions: An elite few residents of Taos have been chosen by the aliens to receive messages beamed directly into the cranium. We humans just can't understand the packaging of the message, so our minds discard it as a monotonous hum. Yeah, I'm leaving this one alone.
Other locales of the world have heard people complaining a low hum, places such as New Zealand, Britain, and beautiful Kokomo, Indiana. In the case of Kokomo, the noise was found to be from a cooling tower at the local Daimler-Chrysler plant. The tower would tend to vibrate and send out a 36 Hz tone. No such industrial facility like that exists in Taos.
Whatever the source of the "hum," I hope that the people who keep hearing it will one day have relief and be able to reclaim the peace and quiet that we are all entitled to.
Post Script: New Mexico's got it all, doesn't it? I mean, if you're a Fortean researcher. Corona, Los Alamos, Soccoro, Dulce, and of course, Roswell. You could write a book on that state alone. Any Strangers up for a road trip? I'll have to see what kind of writing grants are out there...if any still exist in this economy.
Addendum: As ff the hums weren't bad enough, there is now a community that is experiencing random vibrations for no reason. Underground military activity is suspected. This from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
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