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Answers to Two Difficult Questions about the Hum

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Follow World Hum Map and Database Project on WordPress.com

There are competing schools of thought about the source of the Hum. Most of those theories collapse under the weight of some inconvenient facts and very basic questions.

1. Why does the Hum sometimes suddenly disappear, wax and wane, and then reappear? Answer: My hypothesis is that VLF, and possibly ELF, radio signals generate interference patterns and standing EM waves that are interpreted by the body as low frequency sounds. One of the propagation modes (method of travel) of VLF waves is the “skywave”, sometimes called “skip” by amateur radio enthusiasts, in which the radio waves hop back and forth between the ground and an electrically charged layer of the atmosphere called the ionosphere. I also suspect that the interaction between geomagnetic conjugate points is a factor. Any disturbance or change in the ionosphere will change hop distances and signal strength. Such disturbances can include solar storms (linked to the sunspot cycle) and internal processes within the Earth’s core that generate the magnetic field itself. Moreover, powerful VLF transmitters (which as far back as 1965 included portable land-based transmitters) have ceased operation, changed frequencies, or increased in power. Any of these can cause the anomalous behaviour that typifies the Hum.

2. Why did the first widespread and reliable reports of the Hum start in England in the 1970s, and America in the early 1990s? Answer: When we examine the history of the appearance of the world’s most powerful VLF transmitters (land-based and airborne), and ELF transmitters, we find that the two coincide. The precise power of the land-based transmitters is often classified or intentionally obscured, but if they were operating in the 2 MW range as far back as 1960 (which is in the public record), then with little doubt, 50 years of technological advancement have brought not only much greater transmitting power, but greater numbers of such transmitters as well. I estimate that there are at least 50 VLF transmitters in the world that operate in excess of 1 MegaWatt power. The actual number could be greater. Some of those transmitters are continuously airborne (e.g. the US TACAMO system), whose precise power and locations are classified.


  1. Cristi says:

    I just wanted to leave a comment about the hum I hear. There is a sound file on the web now of the Auckland hum at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6525766. It does not even come close to reproducing the hum I hear. I hear a pulse once a second or more. Other than during the pulse events, the pitch remains higher (still very low but higher than the Auckland hum). During each pulse, the pitch suddenly drops quite low and immediately slides upward to the pitch of the hum. At the higher pitch, there are also very momentary interruptions in which the pitch suddenly drops, then resumes.

    It goes away completely when I use silicone earplugs. Any other earplug will not work because it will not seal out low-frequency sound. I believe a study should be done with hearers that includes the use of silicone earplugs.

  2. Keith Vakauza says:

    I never heard of “THE HUM” before yesterday 8-22-2013 when it started happening to me.I explained it to my girlfriend and she said she had read something about it recently.It was there again this morning.I don’t here it over other noises,just when it’s dead silence. Pretty kreepy.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Human animals have no facility (antennae, other conductive properties) to receive VLF and ELF waves. How does this fact fit-into your theory?

  4. Bjorn-Erik Gueug says:

    The hum got to be some kind of electromagnetic noise coming from an uknown source. I personaly get musclecramps/twitching and an electric tickling in my legs each time it occure at night in my bed. As if my bed is electrifying me with a very low pulsating voltage. I have never had these problems before i started hearing the hum 3 years ago.
    If it can impact my muscles and nerves, and only electrisity can do that as far as i know. Then the source should be found from something producing/transporting electrisity ? Still cant figure out how it produce the low frequent sound thou.
    Sorry for my bad english.
    Regards, Bjorn-Erik, Norway.

    • Bjorn-Erik Gueug says:

      An important factor may be that i live 3-4 km. away from our national airport. I guess they use alot of mixed radiosignals, and could be some part of the answer to this, since you’r talking about radiosignals here. Regard, Bjorn-Erik, Norway

    • It is very interesting that you mention the “electric tickling”, especially in the legs or in the chest; this is something that good numbers of people have reported. Some of them report that the sensation is not constant, but rather lasts for a few moments, stops, and then repeats with a reasonably regular pattern.

  5. Euan Pool says:

    I found this article from Ciaran Beggan of the British Geological Survey (http://www.bgs.ac.uk/staff/profiles/25215.html) rather interesting.
    You may already have read this but in case it has slipped through the net here is a link :


    • The Schumann resonances are interesting indeed, and I have spent considerable time speculating on how they might play a role. (I do think it is again unfortunate that the word “hum” is used that article.) My reaction to the article is that unless these very weak signals are themselves modulating a much stronger signal, then I don’t see how they might be affecting things. Good stuff, though.

  6. Laura Greenbaum says:

    I started hearing the Hum earlier this year. I live in Northern California. When I first started hearing it, it was very loud and almost intolerable. Now it comes and goes, but it mostly there. Perhaps I’ve just gotten used to it. No one else in my household can hear it. I’ve also heard it in Las Vegas, but not in Kauai. I will be going to Mexico soon and will be interested to see if I hear it there. It is very real– something I have just learned to accept and I try to ignore it.

    • You heard the Hum in Vegas? Could you be more specific about precisely when and where you heard it.

      • Laura Fr says:

        Sorry for the delayed response. I heard it in Vegas last March while staying at the Aria Hotel. I was also in Scottsdale at a resort two onths ago and ephear it there. I did NOT hear it in Anaheim last week…was there for a conference. I hear it mostly in my home. We live 10 minutes south of SF Airport

  7. Rodney Robinson says:

    The hum nearly drove me mad last year and stopped suddenly after hearing it every night for many months. I have been free of it since about May this year. Two nights ago I thought I could hear it when I woke in the night but it was much reduced in volume and I just went to sleep. The same the next night but last night it was back again. Slightly different frequency pattern (like a car engine running) but same sickening drone which actually gets worse if you press your head to the pillow. The other change is that now my wife hears it too and the high pitched whistle that goes with it. I also had a night terror experience which seem to be associated with the hum (at least for me ) as the last time I had night terrors was the last time the hum was going at the beginning of the year.

  8. I want to know if there are any differences in the perceived frequencies or qualities of the Hum when you have experienced it in different countries.

  9. I hear the hum 24 hours a day, 7 days a week here in southwest Germany. It sounds like the agitation cycle of a washing machine or a low frequency hum like a ceiling fan or room fan that vibrates the entire building. The only time it subsides is when jet airplanes pass overhead (we’re about 10 miles from the local airport & depending upon wind conditions are occasionally in the approach path) or when larger construction type of vehicles pass by on a neighboring street with a resonance which I presume cancels out the sound waves of ‘the hum’ temporarily. We live on the crest of a large hill which abuts a large park/greenspace. Still unsure of the cause–we reside in a community that is well known for its use of alternative energy sources and in a city that neighbors some of the largest Daimler-Benz factories that exist. We have a community water storage tank about 500 meters from our home so it could potentially be a water pump that runs 24-7. It is more of a vibration than an outright noise for me because I still feel/sense/hear it when I wear earplugs. Our house has concrete walls, which is typical of modern German home construction.

  10. bg carter says:

    I’ve been searching the web for days on this topic and just came across you. It is so heartening to find external validation that I am not NUTS! I call it “The Drone” because it does resemble the droning of an engine or motor–in other words not a single tone or hum, but a pulsing. Ear plugs do nothing. Last night I used my phone and played a Rain Loop mp3 file and used ear buds. I could still hear it but the rain sound obfuscated it enough to allow me to sleep 8 hours. First night I slept more than a couple of hours in a week.

    I live in the Puget Sound area of the USA. I have heard The Drone a few times over the last few years, but it has been going nonstop for the last week or more, and seems louder than before.

    My kid says “Yes dad, that sound’s always there”. My wife only can perceive it occasionally.

    I told my wife we are going to go for a night or two up in the mountains just so I can escape it for a while.

    • George G. says:

      Hiya bg,

      Your kid’s declaration has surely brought new light into this topic; the current train of thoughts suggest mostly people over 40 years of age seem to be affected.

      I cannot recall when I first heard it, it seems to have always been there for as long as I can remember. I just didn’t care about it, because as a kid, I had better things to think about.

      As I became older, responsibilities as a parent and provider for my family took center stage.
      I then noticed the Hum disturbing badly needed sleep. My Hum days thus began, and yes, I was in my early 40’s.

      Hopefully others will now comment on their ‘pre-40 years of age’ experience regarding the Hum, so we may quell the myth that mostly ‘oldies’ are hearers.

      Cheers and good wishes,


      P.S. I am a little disappointed others have not picked up on this. I would have thought regular observers, especially those with a medical discipline, would have noticed.

  11. bgc says:

    George G. I haven’t checked this page since i made this post. I stumbled upon a link to it when I was copying over a web-browser profile and perused the “bookmarks” I had accumulated. The drone, thankfully, diminished and departed not long after my posts. However, it has returned…sometimes just for a day or two. But lately,it’s getting more and more frequent. If I could, I would move.

  12. George G. says:

    Hiya bgc,

    Good to hear from you. I’m glad you had some relief from the drone recently. Regarding your wish to move, I would advise you visit your proposed new location several times before you commit yourself to a new address. The Hum does have a habit of following us who are tuned to it.

    Also, make sure your family are comfortable with the move also. My wife often hears the drone when I do not, yet I sometimes hear it when she does not, and when it is at full power we both hear it day and night for weeks.

    I am not familiar with the USA, but I will take a look at the geographical position of Puget Sound with respect to my location, and should they share a close longitudinal relationship, then I will be be bothering you often for drone level reports.

    By the way, did you go to the mountains for a few days, and if so, did the drone vanish, diminish or otherwise?

    Cheers for now,


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