Betreff: The 'Hum' could it be from microwave phone masts?
Von: Eileen O'Connor
Datum: Sun, 29 Oct 2006 17:48:30 -0000

Post your comments to this article about the ‘hum’ this problem has been experienced by many people living near microwave phone masts.


Best wishes

Eileen O’Connor

Trustee – EM Radiation Research Trust



Have you heard the hum?



Is it the imaginings of hypochondriacs?

The result of ear damage?

Or is a mysterious humming noise reported by people in countries including Britain, the US and Australia caused by outside factors?

Two New Zealand academics have found themselves at the centre of debate over 'the hum', a phenomenon where individuals claim to hear rumbling sounds at certain locations.

Generally the ''sounds'' are inaudible to most other people, except a few others, apparently with a similar sensitivity.

In a statement released by Massey University, computer engineering scientists Dr Tom Moir and Dr Fakhrul Alam said a woman living on Auckland's north shore had asked them to investigate a humming noise in her home.

She complained she heard the noise almost constantly, but that others were unable to hear it.

The pair investigated and were unable to detect the sound.

However, when their investigation was reported in the local media, the pair were inundated with calls from others reporting similar experiences.

Many reports stemmed from the same vicinity and involved low-level background noise.

Moir and Alam are now preparing to further investigate further the phenomenon.

Moir said tinnitus and other ear problems appeared not to be the cause of the humming as it was experienced only in specific locations.

''The fact of the matter is that we do not yet have an answer as to why only some people hear these sounds, even though there has been keen interest and plenty of speculation world-wide on this phenomenon,'' he said.

''At this stage we believe there are two possible explanations.

''The hum could be a very low frequency sound that only some people can hear.

''Or, it could be that microwaves in the atmosphere trigger a hum-like sound in the heads of some people that would not necessarily be heard by others or picked up by recording equipment''

Moir told the Discovery blog similar humming had been reported in Australia, but was unable to provide details.

While the pair are taking the reports seriously, the hum is dismissed by some as the result of suggestion, ear damage or hypochondria.

The phenomenon is commonly associated with the New Mexico town of Taos and the British town, Bristol.

What do you think?

Is the hum a real phenomenon?

Or are hearers imagining it?

More Discovery

Do you have a science story idea for Daniel?

Posted by Daniel Dasey
October 24, 2006 09:42 AM


Makes you wonder if project harp is in fact still running.....

  • Posted by: Dave B at October 24, 2006 10:42 AM

Could it just be a condition known as tinnitus, where people hear a slight ringing in their ears? i hear (no pun intended) it's pretty common...

  • Posted by: Glenn at October 24, 2006 10:48 AM

It think it is mostly heard near honey, both fresh and potted.

  • Posted by: Iain Stewart at October 24, 2006 10:51 AM

My brother-in-law can hear electronic equipment that is in 'stand-by' mode, notably the television. He has had to ask us to fully turn it off when he visits, because it interferes so much with his hearing.

  • Posted by: Relle at October 24, 2006 10:57 AM

Maybe it's from the iPods. The digial era is here.

  • Posted by: John at October 24, 2006 10:57 AM

Is someone trying to find the "brown note"?

Daniel says: Ha! For those not familiar with the brown note:

  • Posted by: Adam at October 24, 2006 11:06 AM

glenn u moron - did u not read the report - it is NOT tinnitus..

  • Posted by: antiglenn at October 24, 2006 11:12 AM

In the last week or so I have been hearing a high pitched squeal (kind of like a flash recharging but fainter and higher in frequency). I only hear it in one room in my house (my bedroom) and it is loudest when I am in the centre of the room.

It is not Tinnitus because it only happens in that one particular room.

I have read a few forums that have discussed this and the explanation range from hearing electricity to Televisions. I was wondering if anyone else has a similar experience.

  • Posted by: James at October 24, 2006 11:12 AM

Based on the data from the "mysterious humming noise" link (worth a look) above, the Hum seems to be a physical/neurological reaction to electromagnetic (EM) stimuli, rather than a sound.

Acoustic sound sources don't persist like that,and they're pretty easy to identify and locate. Tinnitus is a very well known, easily diagnosed condition. The common factor is related to the auditory nerve, which picks up the Hum as a sound, due to calcium deposits around the nerve loci. Actually, since some people feel vibrations, it looks as if the Hum is translated by whatever nerves happen to be receptive.Since even deaf people "hear" the Hum, obviously it's not a sound.

Most people would be aware of sensing when a TV or electrical appliance is turned on or off. This would be similar, but appears to be generated by much stronger electrical currents, sourced from high capacity power lines.

Electromagenetic energies are the common currency of all matter. Like radio waves and sound, they come in frequencies, and they can affect and resonate with materials around them. The famous high note breaking a glass is the obvious analogy. Heating elements are the electrical version.

Physical illness caused by vibrations from the Hum are cited. That's consistent with hydrostatic tissue effects, and the way microwave ovens cook food. Meaning an electromagnetic source is quite likely.

The UK data blames power lines. The reports of incidents in the UK are spread pretty much as per the population demographics. It's not unreasonable to think that power services and population are matched, so that would cover the stats.

The people experiencing the Hum in a severe form probably are at risk as a result of location and their high receptivity. It's definitely not hypochondria, if verifiable tissue damage, new illness and chronic stress are occurring.

If the source is the power lines, the best solution is better insulation and plugging whatever frequencies are "leaking" the EM effect. People suffering should be removed from the area. Additional stress wouldn't help.

  • Posted by: Paul Wallis at October 24, 2006 11:13 AM

Relle, I have the same problem. I can go walk down the street and stand outside a house and "listen" to someones TV merely just being on or on standby.

I don't watch TV because of this (It appears flat panels don't cause the same issue) and prolonged exposure gives me a splitting head ache.

  • Posted by: James William Dumay at October 24, 2006 11:15 AM


Without meaning to argue let me assure you as a tinnitus sufferer the ringing I experience is not slight. It is loud and constant and is there 24 hours a day, every day of my life

I have suffered ear damage.

I have tried to explain this to many people but I now do not bother. It is simply too difficult for most people to understand. I often used to get the response 'So, when it goes away you must enjoy those times' I now longer try to explain the word 'never'

  • Posted by: Sufferer at October 24, 2006 11:20 AM

I've noticed intermittant humming sounds that no one else can apprently hear, I used to think I was hearing things that weren't there or that it was a form of tinnitus. Though I've always had sharp hearing for low volume sounds or background sounds, to the point where my Dad used to call me "Big Ears".
I can always tell when a television is on somewhere in the house, not in standby mode like Relle mentioned above, just switched on with the sound off, I can "hear" the electrical hum emanating from it when I'm at the other end of the house.

  • Posted by: BradJ at October 24, 2006 11:21 AM

If the source is electromagnetic, wouldn't it be easy to test this hypothesis by placing the individual in a faraday cage and noting whether the hum stops?

  • Posted by: Paul B at October 24, 2006 11:22 AM

I often hear a low rumbling noise, though it's not specific to any particular spot.

I have noticed that the rumbling may be accompanied by an unpleasant odour and usually seems to happen, more often than not, after a big night on the grog.

  • Posted by: Juan Kerr at October 24, 2006 11:22 AM

It's something I have experienced. It occurs in certain locations. I hear it where I live (and I have heard it elsewhere in Australia, and New Zealand). I hear it not just inside the house but in the street and garden. So it isn't equipment inside my house. I've checked all of that.

I don't have tinnitus or other hearing problems, having just had a check-up recently.

It is not unlike the distant roar of a plane but, unlike a plane taking off or landing, it is constant. There is no rising or falling.

It is not unlike the distant sound of someone playing the same music at the same level for hours and hours on end, throughout the night and into morning. I have thought this is a possibility but I have never been able to find the source in my neighbourhood. As it has no real variation other than intensity, (ie there is no tune or any discernable vocalisation etc) I have come to think it is not music or a television up very loud.

It is felt as much as heard - like a strong vibration in the head and chest. Sometimes less so. So a low frequency is a possibility. It is the vibration that can be particularly disturbing.

I hear and feel it yet the person I live does not. I know of others who have had a similar experience.

I have wondered if it is some kind of industrial noise transmitted at a low frequency. However, the time I experienced it in New Zealand I was by a lake and amongst mountains.

I know that most people won't take it seriously so I never discuss it with anyone. But maybe there is an explanation

  • Posted by: JayJay at October 24, 2006 11:26 AM

james : check your phone charger or any other electrical items you have in your room. i have had a nokia charger emit a very quiet high pitched shriek and also a camera charger that did same. it was driving me nuts until i worked out what was happening.. give it a shot

  • Posted by: hummer at October 24, 2006 11:28 AM

Whenever I leave the city for the mountains or the country side, I definately notice an absence of ambient noise. I put it to electromagentic radiation. The human frequency range starts at about 20[Hz] so I reckon that its got something to do with it?
any takers?

  • Posted by: bahram at October 24, 2006 11:31 AM

I have heard it on and off, from My home to out in the bush. It is usually an oscilating huml
I thought it occured after long periods of using my handsfree earpiece on mobile. Just a theory

  • Posted by: mick b at October 24, 2006 11:32 AM

You're not alone Jay Jay.

Happens to me occasionally. Recently it woke me up at 2am and I turned the house upside down trying to find the source. Then got in the car and drove around a couple of blocks trying to look for any after hours roadworks or machinery that was operating - all to no avail.

When it happens it's constant, omnidirectional and almost sub-aural. More of a vibration in my chest and head I feel than a heard sound - it can be nauseating and infuriating.

My wife thinks I'm nuts.

It's not tinnitus either.

Those who've never experienced of course have no idea of what I'm talking about and are likely to dismiss it out of hand.

  • Posted by: Michael at October 24, 2006 11:39 AM

BradJ I have exactly the same experiences. I've noticed that the plasma isn't as bad, although it makes a different sound.

  • Posted by: olivia at October 24, 2006 11:41 AM

Sufferer wrote:
"as a tinnitus sufferer the ringing I experience is not slight. It is loud and constant and is there 24 hours a day, every day of my life"

It is hard to explain to people. I discovered I had tinnitus while living in Egypt. We went for a trip to a desert oasis, and while everyone was listening to the silence (as it were) I was wondering where the buzzing noise was coming from.

There was an episode of Monk where there was an explosion, and for the next few minutes teh only sound (reflecting what Monk could here) was a high-pitched ringing in his ears. I told my husband: "That's what my ears are like all the time!"

  • Posted by: Relle at October 24, 2006 11:45 AM

Maybe the small percentage that are hearing the Hum could actually be gifted. Your brain may be operating mentally on a completely different wavelength to the norm.

I propose the Hum hearing among you should attempt to further develop this hearing ability and maybe venture out into 'seeing' different wavelengths too, such as ghosts.

The hum you hear could actually be those in the afterlife trying to contact you through sound and unfortunately you're not listening to them.

Then again it could just be UFO's warming engines on a cold morning?

  • Posted by: Speaks Only Once at October 24, 2006 11:54 AM

A bit off topic, but I'd be interested to know if the folks out there who suffer from electromagnetic sensitivity (not tinnitus suffers) have a well developed sense of direction - can usually tell where north is, rarely get disoriented or lost, that sorta thing.

  • Posted by: Jez at October 24, 2006 11:57 AM

The only form of ringing I've experienced is when i'm laying in bed after being in a night club

  • Posted by: Sonja at October 24, 2006 12:02 PM

Speaks Only Once, you've just illustrated my final point exactly.

An easy cheap shot that somebody was bound to make - just so happens that you're the prat who got there first.

  • Posted by: Michael at October 24, 2006 12:03 PM

I've quite frequently experienced a 2-tone bass humming note which is not audible to others. I notice it when there's little ambient noise, e.g. late at night. I used to think it was distant traffic, but given that it's followed me on recent travel, including staying in rural areas, that seems unlikely. It's been much more noticeable of late, following a period of sustained work stress so I'm hoping it will go away once things get back to normal.

  • Posted by: Hedli at October 24, 2006 12:03 PM


The UFO comment was a joke, apologies if that has offended.

I am a keen believer in those among us who are operating on another wavelength and that can see and hear things others can't. Flame away, but I am serious in what I say.

  • Posted by: Speaks Only Once at October 24, 2006 12:11 PM

James Said: In the last week or so I have been hearing a high pitched squeal (kind of like a flash recharging but fainter and higher in frequency). I only hear it in one room in my house (my bedroom) and it is loudest when I am in the centre of the room.

Jay Replies: James i had a similar noise. I found i could mainly hear it at night. Turns out it was a transformer for my electric shaver. Even when they arent plugged into the shaver they are still transforming from AC to DC (and using power).

  • Posted by: Jay at October 24, 2006 12:11 PM

The 'hum' travels vertically. Everyone's missed the logical answer!

This is actually aliens bombarding us with low-frequency electro-magnetic radiation as punishment for us transmitting "I love Lucy" into space back in the 1960's

  • Posted by: Barking Mad at October 24, 2006 12:18 PM

Speaks, apology accepted.

I am by nature a skeptic about most things but my own experience leads me to believe that this is a real phenomenon - probably man-made.

Makes me wonder what effect it has on animals with a wider range of hearing than humans.

  • Posted by: Michael at October 24, 2006 12:20 PM

Clearly they are the locations that the invading aliens will land. They are preparing humanity for slavery by inducting certain humans to do their biding in the subjugation of humanity. These people think they are just hearing a hum - whereas it's really a form of subliminal brainwashing. The transmitters are actually located inside certain humans that live at these sites. The transmitters are either drilled into their teeth or analy - this is what's really behind ufo reports of mouth and anal fetishes amongst aliens.

But all is not bad. Although we'll all be slaves our standard of living will rise spectacularly.

  • Posted by: Mike at October 24, 2006 12:21 PM

My huband has acute hearing he can hear humming from a power pack pluged in downstairs through walls, I can barely hear it when I am in the room standing right next to the power pack.

  • Posted by: Rebecca at October 24, 2006 12:41 PM

So no one's even mention the universal vibration of Eastern Philosophy (the Aum sound) as being a possible explanation. It usually starts to be heard through meditation, but maybe some of you hear it spontaneously. "In the beginning was the Word" is the same thing.

  • Posted by: richard at October 24, 2006 01:22 PM

The last month or two I have noticed, late at night, a humming noise, much like you would hear from a microwave oven in use. Except it goes on for much longer than what you would expect, and is obviously much fainter and deeper. It definitely is cyclic. It's not really annoying but I can faintly "hear" it, and strangely have wondered if it is just in my head. Even more strange now that I should stumble upon this article. I'll have to look out for it tonight again. I don't hear it every night. I haven't stayed elsewhere yet but will test it out at xmas time.

  • Posted by: Peter at October 24, 2006 01:26 PM

I have heard 'The Hum' all my life. I've never had a speeding fine (partly because I don't speed as a rule) but also because I can 'hear' the microwave-band radars. I can't hear the laser-based speed detectors, as they use infra-red laser.

I have always been able to hear the 'whine' of TVs and microwaves, though modern ones are much quieter. I think solid-state power supplies replacing old iron-cored transformers is the reason for that.

Pretty much anywhere within a couple of km of 'civilization' I can hear 'The Hum'. It disappears on bushwalks, as long as you can get below ridges into mobile phone 'shadows' and no-one has got one switched on. Getting a couple of kms offshore is also good, as long as you are on a yacht that runs it's gear off 12/24v DC. The 'quietest' place I have ever been is a jungle in Thailand.

I've always associated it with AC power systems, inparticular equipment that needs step-up transformers or that operate in the microwave frequencies. I can usually 'hear' such systems from about 1-2 km away.

  • Posted by: corinoco at October 24, 2006 01:35 PM

big deal. i often pick up FM radio transmissions in my head, when I turn on the radio I can find the station I've been hearing. I can also hear various electronic components functioning and detect faulty parts by the sound they make. I gave up trying to explain it a long time ago because all I ever got was "I can't hear anything - you're nuts". These people should get over it - I make a good living in electronics repair by exploiting this ability.

  • Posted by: jammer at October 24, 2006 01:45 PM

I used to work in a job where we repossessed houses when a tenant did a runner.

I always found that i was able to tell whether the electricty had been cut off yet or not, by the atmosphere in the house (which I suspect is the electromagnetic field thing). The feeling was like a deafening silence.

  • Posted by: Freddo at October 24, 2006 01:50 PM

good work Mr Dasey

  • Posted by: Wayne at October 24, 2006 01:53 PM

James William Dumay wrote:

"Relle, I have the same problem. I can go walk down the street and stand outside a house and "listen" to someones TV merely just being on or on standby.

I don't watch TV because of this (It appears flat panels don't cause the same issue) and prolonged exposure gives me a splitting head ache. "

Brilliant! Will have to try this one on the wife. "Oh c'mon honey, the old TV gives me a headache."

  • Posted by: Matt at October 24, 2006 01:53 PM

I'd be interested in knowing whether people who hear it are synaesthesic.

  • Posted by: hev at October 24, 2006 01:55 PM

As kid in the 60's when televisions were either on or off, I could walk along the street and name the houses that were watching.

Transformers (no matter if the appliance is off) also can make a hum, these are all over the place in modern houses, even the roof with aerial boosters etc.

Another interesting one, was walking in park one day ... big (low) hum ... with investigation, discovered I was standing over a major gas pipe. (1 meter dia).

Now as an "oldie" at 50 I can't hear the high pitched noises anymore. The high pitched mosquito, phone ring tone bugs the heck out of my son though. :)

I can still hear the tones come through to switch the off-peak hot water on though so not completely over the hill. :)

  • Posted by: Kingsley at October 24, 2006 01:58 PM

I can hear high voltage overhead power lines - especially on humid or wet days and from about 300m. I can sometimes hear power pack transformers etc and can also tell if the TV or stereo amp is on late at night.

An interesting phenomena is to be in my workplace and one of the last to leave as we "shut down" for Christmas. ALL the computers, monitors, printers and other IT guff is turned off. It can be eerily silent.

  • Posted by: Craig K at October 24, 2006 02:03 PM

HAARP - the non-angelic kind. ;o)

  • Posted by: Cate at October 24, 2006 02:06 PM

Computers are the worst, I can hear the hum of computers in standby mode, as well as televisions. However, the most annoying is the sound that I can hear eminating from my computer screen when I move the mouse around.

  • Posted by: Penny at October 24, 2006 02:24 PM

"My huband has acute hearing"

We're not interested in your husbands jewelry!

  • Posted by: M. Python at October 24, 2006 02:33 PM

Ahh! It's nice to hear someone actually mention what so many of us probably hear but are afraid to talk about for fear of ridicule. I do hear hums and whines and weird constant sounds from time to time. I have often feared it was the onset of tinnitus, but when I've asked my wife if she hears it, she often does (although few other people do).

Sometimes, if I turn my head slightly to one side, the sound goes away, so it's almost like I have to be lined up just right. Still, it's very faint, so hard to define - if someone put me in a Faraday box I think the novelty/stress would mess with my ability to hear the whine. The noises aren't always at the limits of hearing (eg Near 20Hz or 20kHz), but they are in the 'Am I just hearing things?' range volume-wise. The sounds I'm talking about are like feedback (eg from a microphone too close to a speaker), but fairly faint.

Sometimes the sound has been due to an appliance in standby mode, other times it has been the filter on the fish tank, but other times, I am unable to figure out the cause and it is only there for an hour or so. It is quite possible that some of the noises are figments of my imagination, but the fact that sometimes it is an appliance shows that at least sometimes the sound is actually physically there.

For musical reasons I have spent some time trying to attune my ears to sounds that may not be immediately obvious, so perhaps it's just that some of us have learnt to notice such things, (and are fortunate enough to have ears capable of noticing such things). I also tend to notice some smells or tastes that others don't, but then again, sometimes I struggle to smell something that others do. But yes, people often think I'm making it up, or am deluded or whatever, when I mention the odd flavour, sound or smell that they don't immediately notice. A lot of people don't seem willing to question their initial perceptions. Still, some of the most enjoyable things in life (and the most annoying) aren't immediately noticed.

As for Jez's question regarding sense of direction - yes, I do tend to be able to pick where North is (more or less), but I'm never quite sure if that's a knowing where North is, or knowing the path I have taken to get there thing.

To know that others hear something similar, and that some people are actually researching it, is quite refreshing.

  • Posted by: Tim at October 24, 2006 02:55 PM

Has anybody thought that it could be due to the rectification of 50Hz Alternating Current by tooth fillings, whcih would give a 100Hz hum?

Don't laugh - back in the 1960's near the old OTC transmitting station at Doonside, where there were high levels of high frequency (short wave) radiation, a woman complained of suddenly hearing unintelligible voices all the time.

OTC investigated, and found taht the sudden event ocurred just after a visit to the dentist. They paid for new, different fillings and the voices went away.

The cause - the diode rectification effect of her metallic fillings, in this case mercury amalgam. She was hearing an AC voltage that was originally a short wave radio transmission, teh amalgam effectively forming a diode and providing an audible voltage whcih would vibtrate the filling casuing her to hear voices.

Is this not possible also with a strong 50 Hz Alternating Current field?

  • Posted by: Bob Emanuel at October 24, 2006 03:14 PM

I never understood Tinitus (humming in the ear), until, a small firecrcker went off prematurely whilst still in my hands, 40cm's away from my face. BANG. I blacked for a few seconds. I could hear no outside noise, just massive noise, ringing etc in my head. When I walked away I could feel my footsteps vibrations loudly in my head. I was scared at the time that I've gone deaf. I had to yell loudly over the inner noise to hear myself and my friend's voice. I was told by a friend who was in an army that gunshot sounds commonly do this and I should go to sleep, and in the morning I'll be all right. Meanwhile, any outer noise projected so loud I could'nt sleep. Finally after 3 and a half hours I fell asleep. But 4 hours later I woke up to the loud noises and vibrations only to shock myself that my hearing condition was even worse. I called my mother in Australia.....

Slowely but surely after a few weeks followed by 6 months my hearing was full again. but still 1 and a half years on, not without constant low frequency noise/humming/vibrations. I also have a constant itch and very slight burning sensation in my ear.

I've had my ears and hearing check out by GP's and top hearing specialist, but they say that everything is allright. It's obviousely not if I still have humming and the burning itch in my ear 1 and a half years on.

Is there anyone out there that has an explanation or solution to this problem. Perhaps even a doctor reading this blog. If you could help or had a similar experience write a blog to answer me. Cheers.

  • Posted by: MML at October 24, 2006 03:14 PM

If someone can get my three boys under three to hold their breaths and bowel movements and sit absolutely still for ten seconds, I'll let you know whether or not I can hear anything.

  • Posted by: Daddy at October 24, 2006 03:37 PM

I'm an audio engineer (working with bands etc) and thanks to that i have tuned my hearing, and i always make sure i look after it carefully (earplugs etc).

I hear noises too. After playing with an oscillator, i've discovered that my hearing range is from 20hz-19800Hz, which is almost perfect for a human. most adults cannot hear this well because as we age, obviously things start deteriorating.

Now, when we think about the world around us, we think from a human perspective, everything is how we see it or hear it, so if we can't hear something, it doesn't exist to us.

Things moving around makes noises. Many things moving around make many noises. Who's to say that everything only makes noises between the 20Hz-20KHz noise band?

Animals have a different frequency range to humans. Not only do we read about this, but an example is when some dogs howl and whine because they can hear something far away, and we're left wondering what they're on about.

Would it be out of the realm of possibility to think that some humans may be able to hear noises that others can't?
Thanks to my good hearing, many many noises bug me that others can't hear (to use an example mentioned earlier, like the whine of the tv), so i'm sure that it's not out of the realms of possibility that there are other noises around.

Most microphones themselves only pick up the frequencies between 20Hz-20KHz, so if a microphone such as that is being used to find a noise, of course it's not going to pick it up, because it can't pick up that frequency.

  • Posted by: Owen at October 24, 2006 03:48 PM

Scientists need to investigate the hum coming from John Howard, which has caused extreme overdose for the country's inhabitants.

  • Posted by: The Drummer at October 24, 2006 03:48 PM

I've probably come in on this a bit late, but I've had to leave studio space I was renting because of the hi pitched 'noise'. No one else could hear it so everyone thought I was mad. Glad to hear I'm not the only one.

  • Posted by: Mr Lobes at October 24, 2006 03:58 PM

I,ve never heard noises in my ears before I stopped to listen ,and now I can hear them all the time.They won,t go away.I have ended up barking mad as the rest of you idiots.

  • Posted by: Santo at October 24, 2006 04:18 PM

Dental amalgams and metal prosthetics can form loosly coupled semi conducting junctions and connections within the body.

These junctions have been shown to be able to convert certain electromagnetic frequencies, especially in the RF and radio bands, into tiny mechanical vibrations. These vibrations may be amplified if in contact with the skull as is the case with dental fillings and can thus be HEARD.

Typically mobile phone usage is the main problem due to unconstrained growth. A lot of the upsurge in this humming phenomena is probably due to nearby Moby towers.

  • Posted by: KAEP at October 24, 2006 04:31 PM

I can also hear electronic equipment that is in 'stand-by' mode, ie. the television. Sometimes it affects me greatly if the tv is too close and I start to sweat, I get a ringing sound in my ear and it makes me really dizzy so I have to completely turn it off.

Also with mobile phones before I get a text message or before the phone rings I get a very sharp pain near either my right or my left temple.


  • Posted by: Ana at October 24, 2006 04:34 PM


I have pretty sensitive hearing when it comes to high frequencies. There is supposedly a mobile ring tone doing the rounds "for teenagers" that only people under 20 something can hear. I am 33 and I can hear it perfectly.

Many electronic devices emit a high pitched sound when it standby mode (and when turned on). I bought a new HD Set Top Box and after a few weeks it started making a high pitched whining noise when it was in standby. It got to the point where I could not be in the same room when it was in standby mode. Thankfully I had some other isssues with it and got a replacement which does not make the noise, so it was obivously something faulty with that unit.

I am curious though - did anyone go out with some testing equipment to see what they could pick up across the entire sound spectrum?


  • Posted by: Paul at October 24, 2006 04:45 PM

I just finished reading an article about the widening hole in the O-zone layer at the South Pole when I read this article. All sorts of waves travel through space. Could the hole be related to the noise? It would be interesting if someone could correlate the intensity of the sound with the size and movement in the hole O-zone.

  • Posted by: Peter at October 24, 2006 04:51 PM

I had all of this happen to me as recently as a month ago.

It was going on for a few weeks so I was going to go and get it checked out but then it stopped.I have never suffered from tinnitis before this.

The Hum was obvious when it was quiet especially at night!

I do have an ipod with those bud things. Is this the onset of tinnitus, hypochondria. Or something else entirely?

  • Posted by: Ken at October 24, 2006 05:00 PM

This Hum has been heard for over ten years. Originally known as the Taos Hum. Here's a link:

  • Posted by: Tim at October 24, 2006 05:51 PM

AC voltage can certainly be heard under certain circumstances, and I've heard various electronics make noise, standby mode appliances seem notorious.

Transformers are certainly fewer and smaller in many appliances these days, but 'switch mode' power supplies in computers etc can tend to be quite noisy, although the incorporated fan tends to drown it all out.

I've heard of wire fences picking up radio signals, too. It's certainly not beyond the realm of possibility for many other electronic devices to make sound, anything with an oscillating crystal in it perhaps...

Often what causes ringing in the ears, whines etc that aren't tinnitus are just blood pressure sorts of noises. I also wonder if the shape of some individuals' ears may account for the 'hum' being audible to some and not others, perhaps the shape of the ear one way, picks up more low-frequency sound than the shape of others.

Pure sound, is a mechanical wave. All else, light, radio waves, magnetism etc are all related electromagnetic waves - so it follows that some people may be able to sense these things as they intrude into the visible, and perhaps audible spectrum. Light is made up of photons which are particles of matter(and there ends my understanding of that part of physics) , so theoretically a moving body through a medium such as air, may make a sound.

Ever sit in the cockpit of an airliner? Right up front of a plane, it's incredibly loud - just white noise, the sound of those air molecules colliding with the pointy end of the plane...

I can sympathise with the poster with tinnitus, I had it temporarily when my office was being renovated, there was a lot of dust which was giving me low-grade allergies which mainly affected me with 'plugged ears' because, I guess, of my sinuses.

A dodgy doctor I saw casually told me I might have Meniere's disease, which was almost malpractice in itself to suggest it with little evidence - a google search makes it sound not too bad, but the medical book I looked it up in back then said it was a debilitating progressive illness characterised by acute vertigo with accompanying nausea vomiting etc, and sufferers often commited suicide!

A hearing test showed everything to be ok and treatment with antihistamines eventually cleared it up, and I was relieved, mild as it was, it was maddening.

  • Posted by: Alan Smithee at October 24, 2006 05:55 PM

To Sufferer at October 24, 2006 11:20 AM

Good news. There is now a treatment for tinnitis based on PhD work by an Australian - see

  • Posted by: Don at October 24, 2006 06:23 PM

I hear it but always thought it was low volume distant traffic noise, however it is more obvious at 2 or 3 am when it should be quiet traffic-wise.

  • Posted by: anne at October 24, 2006 07:19 PM


Auditory signals generated in humans and animals who are irradiated with short rectangular pulses of microwave energy. the effect arises from sound waves generated in the tissues of the head by rapid, thermal expansion.
[J.C. Microwave Theory and Techniques, IEEE Transactions on
Volume 25, Issue 11, Nov 1977 Page(s): 938 - 943



  • Posted by: Simon Hayes at October 24, 2006 08:37 PM

Could it be electric arc steelmaking furnaces?

EAFs often operate, either with 3-phase, 50/60Hz power or with DC current. They are LOUD - think concentrated thunderstorm, as the electric arcs are analogous to lightning, and they can sound like interference from a microwave oven from a certain distance. Apparently, many EAFs operate in partially enclosed structures - for comparison, the furnace at Rooty Hill operates in a fully-enclosed structure with sound-attenuation panels on the walls. They may be situated in unusual locations, as they and the associated steel mills don't require that much room.

  • Posted by: sentinel at October 24, 2006 09:08 PM

About 20 years ago there was a series of letters published in scientific journals, including the journal Nature, discussing the perception of hums and clicking noises arising from exposure to microwave emissions at the frequencies now used in cellphones.

  • Posted by: Cliff Maurer at October 24, 2006 11:03 PM

Oh wow. I'm sitting here giggling with happiness because I'VE FOUND MY PEOPLE!!

Weirdly, I've experienced a lot of the odd syndromes that have been mentioned here. Since I was a child I've heard weird noises that no-one else has and I'm just... used to it, I guess.

I know I have tinnutus - hey you go to a couple of AC-DC concerts, just the one Pink Floyd - 3 foot from the big bass speaker stack mind - and you just can't avoid that.

So while the ringing of a thousand sleigh bells just off over the next hill is a part of my everyday life, there's still room to hear other odd things. My job, BTW is a court sound reporter/transcipt preparator - deciphering the faint whisperings of an acused could mean yea or nay on an appeal. So I'm a little sensitive about my aural abilities.

James: Change your lightbulb. I've found through trial and error and sleepless nights that some lightbulbs give off squeals or groans, even when switched off.

Tim: I often get that squeal that comes and goes when moving my head. Particularly near older TVs. But while North isn't always obvious to me, as a child I could invariably point to the direction of the nearest airport (a radar thing???) and I do still have pretty neat sense of direction.

Hev: You posed the really interesting question. I have mild synasthaesia - colours with numbers, smells and tastes with musical notes - and with so few people knowing what the HECK I am talking about, the scope for swapping notes is limited. Look forward to hearing more here.

But since this is late in the day and enquiring minds move onwards and upwards (and sideways to the fridge) I'll probably never know any more..............

  • Posted by: Vr0n at October 24, 2006 11:40 PM

This is probably unrelated to the above article but on still, humid summer days at my home in North Curl Curl in the Northern Beaches we sometimes can hear a low rumbling noise, I reckon this noise is the sound of a jet engine's thrust as the planes at Sydney airport are taking off. This is because Low Frequency sound has high energy and can travel very far and through most barriers, the dense atmosphere of summer also helps sound travel. Just a theory though...

  • Posted by: DanG at October 25, 2006 01:41 AM

Hummer, Jay and Vr0n

It was the phone chrger for my wifes mobile phone. I disconnected it when I got home and the high pitched sqeal abated.

I was a little disapointed because I thought maybe I was special.

  • Posted by: James at October 25, 2006 11:12 AM

About mid-July this year in a inner suburb of Canberra, for approx 1 week both my husband and I were disturbed each night by a cyclic throbbing/pulsating type sound in the distance. It sounded bass like and at first we thought it was a loud party as it was a Saturday night. By about the 3rd night the sound was so loud and close it vibrated the windows and was unbearable (For all the UFO believers out there - sorry there was no bright lights though!) We even did a web search the next few days to see if the media had reported on it. Then for another few nights the sound was still there but again it was in the distance. Haven't heard it since then. Weird stuff!

Daniel says: Check out Stephen Hutcheon's excellent coverage of this issue:

  • Posted by: DeeBeeGee at October 27, 2006 02:27 PM

This article describes PRECISELY a sound that I heard as a child in South Australia. I can think of no ordinary physical explanation at all for this.

My family moved to an isolated farm in South Australia, about 70 miles east-south-east of Adelaide, in 1954, when I was 5 years old. At that time, the only electromagnetic waves I can think of in the area would have come from our farmhouse's 32 volt electric circuits, radio, and perhaps aircraft radar. There was no TV in the state yet, and no mains electricity within 25 miles.

At some point after the move I began to hear a very low, throbbing hum at night after I went to bed. Unlike many hearers, it gave me no unpleasant physical symptoms. On the contrary, I found it comforting and soothing. I remember hearing it often, especially in summer. I was aware that there was no ordinary explanation for this noise - it was not the same as the various engines was had on the farm, or like a sound that any nearby animal might make. I never spoke to anyone of my perception of this noise, nor did anyone ever tell me that they could hear it too. So it certainly wasn't a case of a crowd delusion.

I left the farm in 1962, and don't remember if I heard the Hum again after that on visits to the same location. I have never heard it anywhere else on the planet, and have travelled quite a bit in my life.

I am highly sensitive to many subtle energies, and I imagine this sensitivity might have something to do with being able to hear the Hum. As a child I could feel that the subtle energetic substance of my body (protons? electrons?) was the same as that of the natural world around me. As an adult, I often sense the emotions of others as actual sensations in my body, even when there is no outward sign of the other person's feelings. I tend to be psychic about the emotional states of friends and relatives who are distant, which runs in my family. When I have acupuncture treatments I can often feel the chi moving along the meridians, which my acupuncturist confirms, even though I don't know the meridian map.

I would be interested in comments from others who have actually heard the Hum.

  • Posted by: Persephone Maywald at October 29, 2006 07:11 AM

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