Have You Ever Heard 'The Hum?'

Jun 14, 2011

"According to sufferers," the BBC writes, "it is as if someone has parked next to your house and left the engine running. The Hum is a mystery low frequency noise, a phenomenon that has been reported across Britain, North America and Australia in the past four decades."

Now, folks in Woodland, a little village in England's County Durham, say they're hearing The Hum. One local resident, 57-year-old Marylin Grech, tells The Telegraph that "it vibrates through the house. We've turned all the electricity off in the house and we can still hear it, so it's not that. ... It's not tinnitus, that's a high pitched sound and this is very low. If I put my fingers in my ears it stops, so I know it's not in my head."

Many possible explanations have been offered. "Gas pipes, power lines, traffic, factories, pylons or mobile phone masts" have been blamed, The Telegraph says.

Way back in 2004, The Guardian reported that some scientists thought The Hum might be caused by rough water that "sets the Earth's crust shaking. ... The sound is probably caused by the conversion of storm energy to oceanic waves, which interact with the shape of the ground at the bottom of the sea."

Some think it's just over-sensitive ears.

Now, we realize the Hum has been in and out of the news for years.

It's made it on to the website of the New Mexico Tourism Department because of the "Taos Hum" that's been reported there. (More on that at the website of Unsolved Mysteries.)

There are often reports of a Hum in Hawaii.

The X-Files supposedly mentioned it, though we can't find a solid reference to exactly how the show approached the subject (if anyone knows, tell us in the comments thread).

All of this makes us wonder:

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.