Have you ever been driven to the brink of insanity by a low-frequency droning noise that nobody else seems to hear? Can you hear it over vast distances or just in an isolated place?

Image credit: Unsplash

Image credit: Unsplash

You may be a “hearer” of the Taos Hum, otherwise known as just “The Hum”. It’s a commonly experienced phenomenon by people all over the world; sometimes a cause is established, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it’s an individual experience, sometimes it’s experienced en masse.

Instances have been reported in many countries: the US, the UK, Australia and Canada, to name a few. The Taos Hum refers to the instance occurring in Taos County, New Mexico. 

This mysterious noise was first recorded in New Scientist in 1973, which told of a study of 50 people who had complained of a “low throbbing background noise” between 30 and 40 Hz that others couldn’t hear. The noise seemed to exist over an area of 6 miles and was only heard in cool weather with a bre

In the 90s, the Taos Hum was identified, with a modest but not insignificant 2% being able to hear it. While it is true that young people are able to hear a wider range of sounds than older people, age doesn’t seem to be a factor in the case of the hum. A cause was never established in the case of the Taos Hum, unlike other cases such as the Windsor Hum in Ontario just south of Detroit, Michigan.

It was 2011 when residents of the town started reporting a vibrating drone, with up to 22,000 on one evening in 2012 alone. It was eventually decided that the noise was coming from the industrialised Zug Island, with a steel mill as the possible source despite nothing new having been installed. The noise apparently disappeared in 2020 when the blast furnaces were deactivated.

Biological explanations


Largely thought of as a “ringing” in the ears, tinnitus as a diagnosis can actually refer to a myriad different sounds perceived despite no external sounds existing. They can be a roaring, buzzing, clicking or, indeed, a humming. As many complained that the hum is as bad inside as it is outside and soundproofing actually made it worse, tinnitus is the most likely explanation in those cases.


So it’s not exactly biological in the strictest sense, but as the brain is part of the body’s biology, it still fits somewhere. As humans, we live in a world of background noise all the time, constantly hearing the sounds of nature, cars, neighbours, aeroplanes, generators… It only takes rumours of a strange hum to make a person hyperfixate on a perfectly ordinary sound so that it becomes an escapable and virtually permanent noise. Failing that, it’s not impossible for a person to create a sound in their head if they are exposed to the idea of the phenomenon enough. 

Mechanical explanations

Sometimes the noise is not just a personal experience, and there are actual reasons for this strange, widespread sound. In the industrial city of Kokomo, Indiana, a 36 Hz hum was traced to a cooling tower at a DaimlerChrysler site, while a 10 Hz tone was traced to an air compressor at the Haynes International plant. Despite being apparently “fixed”, there were continued reports of the noise; which makes sense as not all mechanical devices can be silenced.

Image credit: Unsplash
Image credit: Unsplash

There has also been the suggestion that low frequency radio waves of the military TACAMO system could be the source of the hum but there’s never been any reports around the US Navy's stationary broadcast stations.

Paranormal explanations

Naturally, UFO enthusiasts like to point at aliens as the source of this mysterious noise, and indeed many reports have been accompanied by accounts of strange lights in the sky.

Others like to suggest it could be a part of some nefarious military experiment, the Hum possibly being some kind of weapon or method of mind control. These sort of theories aren’t helped by shows like Criminal Minds, whereby one episode in 2018 showed several characters driven to acts of violence because of the Hum.

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One thing’s for sure, it’s very unlikely that there’s a single explanation for the hum. Most likely, the phenomenon is caused by a blend of all the above: tinnitus, super-hearing, industrial plants and the human imagination. With the exception, perhaps, of aliens.

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk

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