Tuesday, May 19, 2009


I don't have any trouble accepting that things I can see are not really there (see Scintillating Scotomas – 11th March post).

But, for no logical reason I am having more trouble convincing myself about things I can hear.

As I have said several times, we live in an extremely quiet village.
Quite often, when there is no other sound in the house, I can hear a faint, low-frequency droning hum.
You could imagine it was a very distant lorry on a long climb or a far-off big multi-piston-engined aircraft.
Or an idling diesel engine, the sort that sets windows buzzing.
Except it can last for hours or, sometimes, apparently days, varying in intensity & not being audible when there is other noise.
Nobody else can hear it.

I first thought it was some king of electrical mains hum, but it is still there if I turn everything off at the fuse box.
Anyway, I think the frequency is a bit lower than mains hum.
I have tried searching all around the house, but can never find any source or obvious loudest point.
The whole house seems to be resonating (faintly…).

I locked on to the idea it might be the TV satellite dish resonating in some light, steady wind conditions, and that seems to fit the observations roughly, except that I can get quite close to the dish anchor post & the noise is not stronger there.

Then today, on the BBC News webpage, I found an article about "the Hum", which is apparently a common complaint worldwide:
That sounds just like my experience, but a lot more severe.

Since then, I have heard about "the Bristol Hum", "the Taos Hum" and even found a dedicated Wikipedia page.

Weighing all the evidence so far, I have to conclude that there is probably no real noise & that it is just a sort of hallucination brought on by extreme quiet.

I shall have to try to convince myself, next time I "hear" it.

Parting thot: "Silence is the true friend that never betrays." - Confucius

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