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Have You Heard The Hum?
May 24, 2009 12:30 PM   Subscribe

"For decades, hundreds of people worldwide have been plagued by an elusive buzzing noise known as "the Hum". "
posted by Aetius Romulous (52 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
ok
posted by ArgentCorvid at 12:34 PM on May 24, 2009


For decades? I thought Spidey fixed that!
posted by darksasami at 12:40 PM on May 24, 2009


If The X-Files is to be believed, they'd better keep moving westward or else their heads will explode, which they probably don't want.
posted by Navelgazer at 12:43 PM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've heard of entire towns hearing this 'hum', so I don't really think it's internal, unless it's mass hysteria, which is entirely possible.
posted by Malice at 12:44 PM on May 24, 2009


I thought they were called U2?
posted by nitsuj at 12:49 PM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can you hear the hum?
posted by the cuban at 12:53 PM on May 24, 2009


Meh. I'll bet it's just the beating of that hideous heart.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:58 PM on May 24, 2009 [5 favorites]


my money's on the fridge.
posted by the_very_hungry_caterpillar at 1:06 PM on May 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Weird. I'm just finishing my band's new album to take it in for mastering on Tuesday. There is a song called "Hum" about this very thing and it uses a lot of the same language as the people who talk about it. I guess I can safely say that I've heard the hum.

Actually, that song just crashed my copy of Peak Pro. I hate the hum.
posted by nosila at 1:07 PM on May 24, 2009


Hmmmmm--I wonder what it could be?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:07 PM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm a little confused by this post. The BBC article is a nice overview of the subject for those who still haven't heard of this, but there have been posts on this on the blue before. I was expecting maybe a solution to the mystery but there's none to be had here.

Previously. And here.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 1:09 PM on May 24, 2009


Maybe she lives really close to SUNN O)))'s rehearsal space.
posted by Dark Messiah at 1:11 PM on May 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


That lady's going to be pissed off when she'll find out her neighbour plays Prodigy and Chemical Brothers albums all day long.

Single link to BBC article? Hum!
posted by surrendering monkey at 1:12 PM on May 24, 2009


[hiding my didgeridoo]
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 1:15 PM on May 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


I live about 50 yards from a major highway and I almost never am aware of the constant background noise it makes. Every once in a while someone will visit and ask how I can sleep with the noise and I almost invariably say, "what noise?". I think this might be like the opposite of that.
posted by empath at 1:27 PM on May 24, 2009


Pretty much all of modern life comes with humming, resonating noises. I started hearing "the Hum" right around the same time I got an air pump for my fish tank. For some reason my house and skull resonate at fish tank air pump wavelengths. So I put it in the basement on a timer! The mysterious night hum was gone.
posted by Area Control at 1:36 PM on May 24, 2009


The resonant frequency of the Earth's core sings to me, and occasionally tells me who I need to execute.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:37 PM on May 24, 2009 [14 favorites]


This reminds me of that kid a while back who was hearing crackling noises all the time, which turned out to be spiders in his ears.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:38 PM on May 24, 2009


Have they located all the missing bees yet?
posted by pracowity at 1:39 PM on May 24, 2009 [10 favorites]


Sys Rq, that's just fucked up. I'm going to assume that's a joke and never ever think about it again.
posted by nosila at 1:45 PM on May 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


snap crackle pop
posted by disclaimer at 1:50 PM on May 24, 2009


Bright eyed young inherit all
Treading down upon the fallen
They were drawn towards the hum
Plenty more where they come from
posted by googly at 1:50 PM on May 24, 2009


I hear this. I always assume it's the hamster wheel at the center of the earth. And then I knock my caffeine intake down some.
posted by jessamyn at 2:00 PM on May 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


I can hear a hum where I live, but I know exactly what it is: it's a factory about three miles distant as the crow flies. I can't block it out with earplugs and the like, I think, because the factory is actually making the earth shake, and from the earth to my legs to my bones to my ears. My coping strategy is relatively simple: I just keep fans running or listen to music. Outside, it's usually overwhelmed by the wind in the trees.
posted by sonic meat machine at 2:02 PM on May 24, 2009


Sometimes I turn off my computer, and it gets all quiet like.
posted by Meatbomb at 2:05 PM on May 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's space bees, okay? And they nest inside your head. Next question!
posted by Artw at 2:13 PM on May 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Space bees! They live my head!

Space bees! Better off dead!

Space Bees! Just just can't quit! Making' honey from the thoughts I transmit!
posted by The Whelk at 2:24 PM on May 24, 2009 [9 favorites]


I could have sworn that in Texas this was referred to as the "Tejas Hum" but I just googled it and there's only one hit. It's in Spanish so I don't know if it's even referring to the same thing. I thought I had seen a TV segment on it on one of those paranormal shows like Sightings, though, back in the day.

I've never heard it, fwiw. But the TV segment I'm thinking of had done much of the same sort of thing, recreating the sound that people say they hear and all that. I'd think I was just making it up if I hadn't remembered all that before I read the article. Hmm. I was a kid when the show came on (so maybe thirteen years or so ago).
posted by Nattie at 2:44 PM on May 24, 2009


Ah! It wasn't "Tejas" it was "Taos Hum."

Check it!:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hum
http://www.spicybuzz.com/paranormal/the-taos-hum (comments section)
posted by Nattie at 2:46 PM on May 24, 2009


Malice: Clearly there are circumstances where the problem is a particular, identifiable external sound. But this doesn't mean that it's impossible for someone else's "hum" to be internal. Also, as the article points out, it's possible for someone to fixate on an actual sound to the point where it becomes problematic, even if there's nothing particularly loud or piercing about the sound.

It's kind of sad that Ms. Jacques seems to think that the only two possibilities are: a) there's an extremely intrusive sound being produced in her house that needs to be stopped even though nobody else can hear it, and b) she's "crackers". "Hearing things" (especially simple hums or tones) is not necessarily the same thing as hallucinating. I guess the impression of the hum might be entirely a psychological phenomenon, but that seems like one of the least likely situations here. It could be partially psychological/neurological as Dr Baguley suggests. Or it could be something physical in her ear, though this by itself seems unlikely as she doesn't hear it outside the home. It could be a combination of a fixation with an ear problem, especially since ear plugs seemed to "make no difference".
posted by ErWenn at 3:06 PM on May 24, 2009


Nattie: I think you are referring to a segment that was on a US TV show called "Unsolved Mysteries"
posted by republican at 5:32 PM on May 24, 2009


This reminds me of that kid a while back who was hearing crackling noises all the time, which turned out to be spiders in his ears.

Y HALLO THAR NITEMARE FUEL
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 5:37 PM on May 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


Can you hear the evil crowd
The lies and the laughter
I hear my inside
The mechanized hum of another world - Steely Dan
posted by tommasz at 5:44 PM on May 24, 2009


Electromagnetic Earth Buzz I suspect.

Is this different from that piercingly high tone that you hear when you're in perfect silence, which is maddening until you stop thinking about it?
posted by Liquidwolf at 6:45 PM on May 24, 2009


Please let us not forget the infamous Kokomo hum.
http://abcnews.go.com/US/Story?id=91912&page=1
posted by charlesminus at 6:54 PM on May 24, 2009


List of hums, at 10:30 on a quiet Brooklyn night:

Fridge, MacBook fan, microwave, exposed copper pipes pulling water to the upstairs neighbors' bathroom, distant teevee, snoring cat, dominoes being shuffled in the alleyway, crying toddler in the hall, someone's stereo playing "Hips Don't Lie," an air conditioner, the footfalls of kids, idling ice cream truck, passing street traffic, trucks on the BQE, the resonant frequencies of cars containing subwoofers and young guys, and intermittently, the D train coming above ground.

While other people are overly sensitized, I should probably stop and listen more often. Shakira, Shakira.

And, hey, at least the hum isn't a maple syrup smell.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 7:40 PM on May 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


disclaimer:
snap crackle pop

My favorite quote from that article:
Irvine said it was a first for him as a physician.

"It was the only time I ever pulled out an invertebrate," he said.
as opposed to what? lizards?
posted by xthlc at 8:00 PM on May 24, 2009


as opposed to what? lizards?

Gnomes, usually, with an occasional kobold.
posted by moonbiter at 10:15 PM on May 24, 2009


They should just use the running pool trick.
posted by dhartung at 11:08 PM on May 24, 2009


They are generally over 50 and are mostly female.

I'm in that cohort. I recently began hearing a hum when in my apartment on First Hill in Seattle. My guess is it's HVAC equipment at one of the nearby new, glassed-in buildings. I open my windows for ventilation and have grown used to sirens and traffic noise. The hum is new. {sigh} Modern life.
posted by Carol Anne at 5:25 AM on May 25, 2009


Several times, I've heard a soft, low-pitched hum just before dawn while camping hundreds of miles from civilization on lonely outback roads, and with no sign of distant vehicular dust clouds or subsequent passing traffic either.

My internal explanation at the time was that it was the Earth creaking as the morning sun warmed it up.
posted by flabdablet at 6:09 AM on May 25, 2009


I've had an ant on my eardrum, too. Just a little one. Bloody loud, though.
posted by flabdablet at 6:10 AM on May 25, 2009


The hum of Changing Opinion? I've been listening for decades, and loving it.
posted by spasm at 7:27 AM on May 25, 2009


Blood Makes Noise
posted by The Whelk at 7:57 AM on May 25, 2009


The Whelk, "Space Bees" is crying for the MeFi Music treatment.
posted by infinitewindow at 8:50 AM on May 25, 2009


If only I had an iota of musical talent!

(Open with a buzzing sound)

I gotta hummin' and a buzzin' going on in my brain
It's just about enough to drive a man insane!
Oh what's my torment, can't you see?
The buzzing is caused by invisible space bees!

lalalalalala!

Oh Space Bees! They live in my head!
Space Bees! Better off dead!
Space Bees just can't quit! Busy makin' honey from the thoughts I transmit!

Oh dodododdahdadum!

Far beyond time and space, the bees came from a strange little place
They don't like flowers, they don't like pollen
these bees prefer my Corpus Callosum!

I don't think it's strange to have a bugs in me
Just look around and you will see
that everyone can feel the buzz of the bees.
So kick your feet and pound that drum!
Gotta get down to the space-age hum!

I'm hearing it as an early TMBG tune, myself.
posted by The Whelk at 9:10 AM on May 25, 2009


Welcome to my world. Actually just my left ear, which lost 70% hearing overnight as a result of sudden sensorineural hearing loss about three years ago.Thankfully the hearing loss is replaced by loud tinnitus in that ear. Cheers, Mother Nature! At least you didn't afflict me with ringing of undetermined cause like these poor schlubs.

I hear this. I always assume it's the hamster wheel at the center of the earth. And then I knock my caffeine intake down some.

I know you're making a funny, but tinnitus is actually worsened by caffeine and other stimulants. Anything that increases blood flow makes the ringing worse.

I miss stereo.
posted by Devils Slide at 9:47 PM on May 25, 2009


Almost forgot my advice to the "humming victims" (actually this is my EN&T doctor's $480 sage piece of advice)--"Um, try not to think about it or else you'll fixate on it and it'll seem even louder."
posted by Devils Slide at 9:54 PM on May 25, 2009


Thankfully the hearing loss is has been replaced by loud tinnitus in that ear
posted by Devils Slide at 9:56 PM on May 25, 2009


I know you're making a funny, but tinnitus is actually worsened by caffeine and other stimulants.

Actually I think the hum I used to hear in my old apartment was a precursor to the tinnitus ringing that I hear pretty much all the time now and knocking off the caffeine really does help a lot. Doing a lot of reading on hum-hearers and tinnitus sufferers, it seems that the people most able to live with it really are the people who can somehow manage to not be driven crazy by the ear noise (and, of course, people who have milder cases). Once I started approaching tinnitus as an anxiety problem with an ear-ringing chaser I was finally able to settle down and live with it.
posted by jessamyn at 8:04 AM on May 26, 2009



Oh my. I have no words to describe the deep relief I experienced upon reading this post and the associated articles. Huh. Nice to know I'm not alone in hearing weird humming noises.

Last year I moved into an upstairs unit/flat of a duplex and began to hear this weird humming noise. It mostly happened in the bedroom. I tried moving the bed to different spots, but nothing helped. The frequency that the humming noise was on seemed to cut through everything and made me f-ing nuts. I tried having music on, NPR, fans, etc.. but the hum was on this low frequency that seemed to.. tickle my inner ear -- that's the best way to describe it. It sounded exactly like the example from a previous post.

I ended up bringing about 10 people over to see if they could hear it. Only 2 out of the 10 heard the noise. I think the rest thought I was going nuts. Heh.

The landlord actually lived downstairs and she was more than willing and intrigued to try to get to the bottom of things. She had lived upstairs for the previous five years and she couldn't hear anything. The first thing we did was shut off all power to the house to see if it was something electrical or an appliance but I could still hear it. We went around the outside of the house, but I couldn't hear it outside and I couldn't hear it on the 1st floor -- only the 2nd floor.

After 6 months of not being able to sleep in my bedroom, the landlady was awesome and let me break the lease. I haven't heard it since -- at least until I listened to the previously mentioned example. What a relief.
posted by crayon at 12:48 PM on May 27, 2009


Sometimes I turn off my computer, and it gets all quiet like.

What? Are you insane?!
posted by deborah at 8:49 PM on May 28, 2009 [1 favorite]


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