from the world's big
This mysterious sound drives some to insanity, suicide
Several investigations have looked into the Taos hum. One scientist believes he has the most likely culprit.
The New Mexico town of Taos is artsy and picturesque, bringing in tons of tourists each year for its pueblo, arts festival, and other trappings. The town has had several celebrity residents including Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence, Julia Roberts, and Dennis Hopper. But there is a dark phenomenon underlying this eclectic desert oasis, a mysterious sound that only a handful can hear, and a small few are tormented by. It's called the Taos Hum.
Though perhaps the most famous case, it isn't only in Taos. Other mysterious droning sounds have cropped up in Windsor, Ontario, Bristol, England, and Largs, Scotland, to name a few. Dozens of cities and small towns around the world have logged reports. Because of this, sometimes it's called the “Worldwide Hum" or merely “The Hum." To see if there's one near you, check out the World Hum Map and Database Project.
Only 2% of the Taos population can hear the incessant vibration which usually grows louder at night. “Hearers" explain it as a hum, a throbbing sound, or a low rumbling which can only be heard indoors. Those who live in rural areas or the suburbs are more likely to hear it over city dwellers. A city usually offers enough background noise to drown it out.
69 year-old Katie Jacques told the BBC that she considered the Bristol Hum "a kind of torture." She said, “Sometimes you just want to scream." Jacques went on, "It has a rhythm to it - it goes up and down. It sounds almost like a diesel car idling in the distance and you want to go and ask somebody to switch the engine off - and you can't." This makes sleep for her “impossible."
Besides sleep disturbances, some hearers complain of headaches, dizziness, nausea, and even nosebleeds, as a result of constant exposure. Most tear their houses apart only to give up in vain, unable to locate the sound's origin. And what hurts the most is sometimes those around them disbelieve, because they can't hear it themselves.
Some hearers are prone to insomnia, among a variety of other disorders. Credit: Getty Images.
In addition to physical symptoms, constant exposure can cause anxiety, depression, and even paranoia. In the UK according to the BBC, such a hum has led to at least one suicide. Experts say cognitive behavioral therapy can help relieve symptoms.
A number of explanations for the hum have been offered ranging from the plausible to the sensational. Some conspiracy theorists say it's a series of underground engines or emanations from a UFO crash site. In England, some surmise that the sound comes from vibrations that are part of the Midshipman fish's mating ritual.
Others still say it's coming out of a secret government project, originating from the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP). This is operated out of an isolated military installation in Alaska that uses radio waves to scan outer space and test new modes of communication. More logical possibilities include unusual seismic activity, high power lines, high-pressure gas lines, and otoacoustic emissions, or vibrations of tiny hair cells from within the ear. It could also just be a case of mass hysteria, but most experts don't think so.
Could the hum be caused by the same kind of technology used to communicate with submerged submarines? Credit: Getty Images.
UK newspapers first remarked on the "Bristol hum" back in the late '70s. Some 800 people claimed to have heard it. But it wasn't until the spring of 1991, when a number of Taos residents complained of a constant hum, that widespread media attention was given.
This in turn sparked an investigation by scientists from Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, among other institutions. Yet, they were unable to locate the hum's origin. In the '90s, engineering professor Joe Mullions of the University of New Mexico, placed sensitive instruments in the homes of a number of different hearers, but didn't detect anything unusual.
Kokomo, Indiana has its own hum. Back in 2003, the municipal government ponied up the funds to have theirs looked into. Turns out, two factories near the area were producing noises at certain frequencies which residents were hearing. Borneo residents in 2012 complained of a low rumbling early in the morning, only to discover it to be boiler testing at a local factory.
Yet, so far no line of inquiry has been able to grab any clues on the Taos Hum. Geoscientist David Deming, himself a hearer, began researching this particular anomaly in 2004. He now believes the sound is due to Very Low Frequency (VLF) radio waves (between 3 kHz and 30 kHz). The US military uses them to communicate with submerged submarines. If it is indeed them, the next question might be: Why would these be bouncing around the desert?
To learn more about the Taos Hum, click here:
Ever since we've had the technology, we've looked to the stars in search of alien life. It's assumed that we're looking because we want to find other life in the universe, but what if we're looking to make sure there isn't any?
Here's an equation, and a rather distressing one at that: N = R* × fP × ne × f1 × fi × fc × L. It's the Drake equation, and it describes the number of alien civilizations in our galaxy with whom we might be able to communicate. Its terms correspond to values such as the fraction of stars with planets, the fraction of planets on which life could emerge, the fraction of planets that can support intelligent life, and so on. Using conservative estimates, the minimum result of this equation is 20. There ought to be 20 intelligent alien civilizations in the Milky Way that we can contact and who can contact us. But there aren't any.
Building a personal connection with students can counteract some negative side effects of remote learning.
- Not being able to engage with students in-person due to the pandemic has presented several new challenges for educators, both technical and social. Digital tools have changed the way we all think about learning, but George Couros argues that more needs to be done to make up for what has been lost during "emergency remote teaching."
- One interesting way he has seen to bridge that gap and strengthen teacher-student and student-student relationships is through an event called Identity Day. Giving students the opportunity to share something they are passionate about makes them feel more connected and gets them involved in their education.
- "My hope is that we take these skills and these abilities we're developing through this process and we actually become so much better for our kids when we get back to our face-to-face setting," Couros says. He adds that while no one can predict the future, we can all do our part to adapt to it.
Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Chronic irregular sleep in children was associated with psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to a recent study out of the University of Birmingham's School of Psychology.