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What I experienced going into the VLF-Blocking Box

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Short answer: I’m not sure.

Last night I arrived home late after playing badminton and I was unable to sleep. I noticed that the bathroom fan wasn’t on, and I heard what seemed to be the Hum. So, after months of waiting, I put on some warm clothes, walked to where the Deming Box is located, and crawled into the box and pulled the hatch over the opening. Not that it matters at all from a scientific standpoint, but I didn’t experience any anticipation or excitement, no sense of culmination. It was simply time. My theory is that the world Hum is rooted – at least in part – in VLF radio frequencies (3 kHz – 30 kHz). The Deming Box is one piece of a classic blinded study design first envisioned by David Deming in his classic 2004 article, “The Hum – An Anomalous Sound Heard Around the World”. Full text access to this article can be unreliable, so if you find a copy of it, save it for your own personal use and reference. In that design, three identical-looking boxes are created. The first blocks VLF radio frequencies, the second box blocks to the best degree possible, all acoustic noise. The third box is a control and blocks neither. Hum hearer volunteers then enter the boxes randomly, and report their experiences. There are notable problems with the design, in particular the problem that it is impossible to not know that one has been placed inside an acoustic anechoic chamber. Blocking VLF radio frequencies is the easy part, which I think I’ve done. I used 18 gauge or thicker mild steel to create an enclosure that can block 10 radio skin depths for a 10 kHz wave. I’m waiting for a physicist to examine my physics work presented here.

And I’m not sure what happened when I went in the box. I brought a pair of ear protection muffs with me, in order to try to block outdoor ambient noise. But sitting on the ground beside the box, wearing the muffs, I couldn’t really pick out the Hum with any certainty. If the reader of this hears the world Hum, then I think you know exactly what I mean. That is, when the Hum is loud, there is no mistaking it. It behaves in a certain way. But when I took the ear muffs off, the overall sound seemed to increase. There is a ferry terminal not that far away, and ships also pass by on the ocean at night, so when the Hum is quiet, it starts being drowned out by the noise of daily life. I  can’t be sure in this case.

I’ll move the box to a storage locker away from the city, which will block enough sound to let the Hum be heard late at night, and will add even more VLF radio blockage. Assuming my physics calculations are correct and that a I can get a good VLF meter inside the box to confirm, a negative result would cast doubt on the VLF theory. A positive result would be a big step forward.

I could be incorrect about the entire thing, but if so we move directly to the next most reasonable hypothesis.

More to come.

 


34 Comments

  1. TINMA says:

    I wish you luck in your experiment .

    I went to work today, parked in the parking lot with motor off. I listened. I couldn’t hear the hum. Local noise blocked it. I knew it was there though. I live 4 minutes from work. I was being annoyed by the hum before I left for work. Terrible thing when you look forward to going to work to avoid this hum.

  2. Lisle says:

    Best of luck Glen. Your theory makes the most sense, as far as I understand it, and is a source of hope. Blocking technology will be a relief. If I have to sleep in a Deming Box at night with scuba lungs for a decent rest I will. The Hum’s really loud this morning, In the early hours it was the classic motor/diesel engine running with irregular oscillations, as clear and loud as a factory over the road. Now, as I write at 10.30am, it’s more a diffuse, dual layered hive ‘noise’ (high and low overlap), oscillating variously. Ear pressure these days is a given, and definitely mostly in my left ear. Plotting the rise and fall over the past year (three entries a day – morning, midday/afternoon and midnight when I get back from work) has shown a notable wave over the months with peaks around weekends mostly, but at irregular intervals there’s a spike overnight during a quiet period and then ‘loud’ throughout the following day. Sometimes not.
    Once again thanks. I hope you win a Nobel, if not in physics – you have to wait too long – definitely for your humanitarian work.
    Regards, Lisle Blyth

  3. yewie56 says:

    Sorry, but I do not understand, why you put on the ear muffs?
    For the comparison of the effect of electromagnetic waves to the normal hearing of our hum (where we even do not use ear muffs!), it must be significant enough to check the existence of hum with and without the shielding box.
    Why do you introduce another “degree of freedom” with introducing ear muffs?
    Or what other intention is behind this?

    • I brought the ear muffs along because the physical setting where the box is located is problematic. You see, I can only hear the world Hum when my ambient environment is quiet (a bathroom fan easily masks it). The box is located in an essentially outdoor environment, and my thinking was that I could use earmuffs to create a quiet enough environment for the Hum to be heard outside the box before I went in the box. I tried listening without them, and with them, and in each case I couldn’t be sure that I was hearing the Hum. This is why my next step will be to move the box to a quieter indoor location. When I can create a situation where I can hear the Hum while standing beside the box, and then block the Hum by getting inside the box, then that will give me crucial information. So that’s the next step.

      • yewie56 says:

        Ah, yes I understand.
        And going into a building with the box for supressing ambient noise would introduce just another “degree of freedom”.
        OK, wish you good luck for your next steps.
        Freundliche Grüße.

  4. Dorothy Doudy says:

    It is my experience that if you truly hear the hum, you hear it over and above ear muffs, ocean roars or any other sounds. It is there. Period.

    • I disagree, at least with my own experience. The world Hum, at for the vast majority of people who experience it, can be blocked by white noise, pink noise, or other ambient sounds. In fact for many of us, simply exhaling loudly will momentarily block it. I realize that there are folks for whom the Hum is very loud and tormenting. So, I argue that there is individual variability in our experiences.

    • Nothing completely blocks it for me….NOTHING!

      • Charlie says:

        Same here.

        Originally I thought that it was some sort of noise from a highway. It was later when I found that nothing seemed to block the sound that I first realised that there was something odd about it.

        These days I block my ears to test whether a sound I’m hearing is the Hum or not, ie. if I can still hear it just as clearly with my ears blocked I figure it’s the Hum.

  5. Simon says:

    Hi Glen, good luck with your continuing work. As far as i can tell, you are the only person in the world right now who has got this far with a proper experiment aimed at characterizing the hum. No pressure then! Anyway, I agree entirely with your approach, as I have actually tried using industrial earplugs and earmuffs together to block the hum, and guess what, I can still hear it. And yes, huffing, snorting or exhaling loudly works at least for a short while, so I agree that we are all hearing the same hum..
    Best regards
    Simon.

  6. Charlie says:

    Hi Glen

    Great to hear that you’ve given the thing a bit of a trial run. The fact that you thought you could first perceive the hum outside the box, and weren’t too sure if you could once inside with the earmuffs on, is at least suggestive. I have stacks of questions about this, but i’ll just plague you with two for the moment!

    Did you also try the earmuffs on/off outside the box, and if you did, how did that compare to your experience inside it?

    And also your last sentence refers to the next most reasonable hypothesis. I was wondering what that might be. Are there any serious contenders at the moment?

    cheers

    • Excellent questions. I sat beside the Deming Box, without earmuffs, and with them. Likewise while I was inside the box. Assuming for the moment that the VLF theory is discounted, I think the next most reasonable approach is that the world Hum is the grand accumulation of anthropogenic low frequency sound and infrasound. If that fails, then I would take a week leave of teaching and do I a deep and complete analysis of the public documents – in particular the Times of London, which goes way back. I have a local volunteer conducting the initial searches right now. Perhaps the world Hum predates the 1960s, in which case a geological mechanism is probably at work, or it is an internal medical condition.

  7. Dr. Jerry Gagala says:

    It’s like Tom Edison said about his light bulb experiments, I’ve successfully discovered 1000 things that don’t work. :>)

  8. CtrMb says:

    All I have to do to turn on the hum is to go to bed and stop moving, then it becomes unbearable. Time of day, you could try 3:00AM or a time that the hum is worse for you. If I lay still for 5 to 10 min it is on full.
    I have an industrial set of earmuffs with a strong spring that squeezes my head and they stop most of the hum so for myself testing with earmuffs would not work. I hear the hum when using ear plugs though.
    I think that I would be a poor test subject because I have difficulty telling when the hum is on or off, except when I go to bed.
    In Yahoo’s old hum forum a Dr. told us that the body is composed of many systems and it may take some time for them all to return to stasis. He was talking about attempts to stop the hum.
    I found that if I stayed in our old cottage for longer than 3 days the hum would stop.
    The hum stopped suddenly for me when Bipole I and II blew down in Mb. There is a Wiki on Bipole I II and III

    • yewie56 says:

      Really, many people can hear the he hum best in buildings or cars and espacially at night times.
      But, if the Initiator here can not hear the hum under the situation of his testbed, then the experiment will really fail. And I think, it would be better, that the experiment is done correct. We all would like a test without mistakes. Therefore let him select the testbed.
      Btw. the situation reminds me to a german person called “Franz Frosch”.
      He had made a compareable test in one of the most silent EMV shielded chamber of the world located at the PTB (Physikalisch Technische Bundesanstalt).
      The chamber is such hardened to electromagnetic and magnetic fields, that there is for example no magnetic field of the earth itself measureable. Meters of several metals espacially u-metals shields this chamber.
      But, that is the sad message, he did not assured himself, that there was a hum existent before he went into the chamber.
      The experiment failed.
      This should not happen to this experiment here.
      (interested on some sources or links on it?)

  9. Brian says:

    Dr. MacPherson stated above that “My theory is that the world Hum is rooted – at least in part – in VLF radio frequencies (3 kHz – 30 kHz). ”

    I just wanted to point out that the formula for calculating longwire antennae length is 468,000 divided by the frequency in Khz. In theory, a 3 khz antennae would be 156,000 feet long. A 20 khz receiving antennae would be 23,400 feet long etc. At present, the only potential antennaes for receiving these frequencies would be the network of power lines our homes are connected to. These days, there are very few buildings which are not connected to the power grid…so I continue to wonder if the “hum” is somehow entering out homes via the electric lines.

  10. yewie56 says:

    Hi Ian,
    the report is written in German. I will translate it. Some days.
    The description of the used “magnetic super shielded room” MSSR is here:

    https://www.ptb.de/cms/fileadmin/internet/fachabteilungen/abteilung_8/8.2_biosignale/8.21/mssr.pdf

  11. Glen –

    I did some more writing and more thinking and even an experiment of trying to pick up an acoustic signal and notching out any power-line pick-up (acoustic or magnetic). I notched out 60 Hz (very little) and the 120 Hz harmonic (the main culprit) and what was left – pretty much random. I don’t believe there is any evidence for a acoustic version of the hum.

    Here are the three webnotes, circuits and waveforms and all.

    http://electronotes.netfirms.com/ENWN31.pdf

    http://electronotes.netfirms.com/ENWN37.pdf

    http://electronotes.netfirms.com/ENWN38.pdf

    As for the Deming box, I think that you only need to hear the hum INSIDE the box – not hear it outside and then not inside (that’s not likely to happen!) You know it well enough to recognize it as an “old friend”. Once you hear it INSIDE (and I fully expect you will) your conclusion is established.

    my email: hutchins@ece.cornell.edu

    Best wishes,

    Bernie

  12. Arnaud B. says:

    Hi Glen, good first test and take your time to be sure of hearing our old friend mr Hum before getting inside the box next time 🙂
    Just for your information, in Belgium, at this time, i hear it ( feel it) very loudly since 2 weeks.
    Still hopping for next test.
    Best regards
    Arnaud

  13. Jonathan says:

    Glen, Well done with the Deming box experiment. If the box could be earthed via a cable to a ground stake, would it act as a miniature version of a Faraday cage? If so, there are further tests that could be made. Firstly, a test could be made with the box is isolated from the ground and secondly a test made with the box grounded via an earth stake. Maybe this type of testing may give an indication as to whether, as you seem to think, the hum is a VLF acoustic wave or possibly a type of radio frequency technology that is being demodulated inside the brain?

    I have noticed from the hum map that the sound is being heard all over the globe so the source may possibly be non-terrestrial. This is just a theory I have but when tied into my other research I have good reason to believe why some people on this planet are being affected with these annoying low frequency sounds. The main question in relation to my theory is whether or not the hum was being heard before the late 50s.

  14. Glen’s experiment is problematic in that it really has TWO HYPOTHESES: (1) that the Hum is caused by VLF RF and (2) that the RF source (or other external source) can in fact be blocked by his metal box. At the same time, there is only ONE OBSERVATION to make: either the Hum is heard inside the box, or it is not. Even if the Hum is heard outside the box, NOT hearing it inside does not prove either hypothesis. (It may be, for example, that even a wooden box would stifle the Hum if the phenomenon were a natural reflex. Just being closed in would certainly distract me, and distractions matter.)

    { Along those lines, this notion of being sealed in gives me the creeps. Dangerous? Glen – please do not ever go in that box unless you have a comrade immediately outside with a strict protocol about how and when to open the box and drag you out. }

    If you found at least 5 out/in cycles of Hum-outside/no-Hum-inside, you can argue statistical significance of something – not necessarily of either of the hypotheses. On the other hand, a positive hearing (even ONCE) of the Hum inside the box would establish that if the source is external (of any type) that the box does not block it.

    • The box is a tool for testing the hypothesis, not a hypothesis itself. Proof that the box does what I claim may be necessary using the proper equipment. And not to worry about safety. The box has an idiot-proof hatch. All that is required is to push one’s way out using about about five pounds of force (there is no hinge).

  15. Glen – DO be more careful – please.

    I just read the April 8, 2016 New Republic article where you said:
    “There’s plenty of air inside a box that size, enough for, I don’t know, four hours of breathing.”

    The box is about 36 cu-ft. I don’t like your saying “I don’t know”. I hope someone does, and chimes in here. What I find online is here:

    http://kimberlymoynahan.com/2012/04/friday-fiction-facts-trapped-in-an-airtight-room/

    It calculates to about 30 minutes before the CO2 gets to you. If you even get dizzy, can you keep track of time and have the strength to push out the door.

    You HAVE to HAVE someone with a timer OUTSIDE. Don’t take chances!

    Bernie

    • Not to worry. I was in there for maybe three or four minutes. I am a very careful and conservative person in these matters. I think Colin was intentionally trying to create a type of “mad scientist” air to everything in his article, including the quite inaccurate impression that I never intended to enter it at all.

  16. Jonathan says:

    Bernie makes some interesting points and I agree the number of times the tests are made is relevant. That is why I suggested the tests are made with the box isolated from the ground and then a further series of tests made with the box connected to a ground stake. If the Hum is heard on every test with the box isolated from the ground and not heard when the box is connected via an earth stake would this have a tendency to prove that the VLF sound is being induced into the brains of people by another means?

  17. […] What I experienced going into the VLF-Blocking Box […]

  18. Brian R says:

    I had a theory that the hum was caused by the extraction of oil and fresh water from the earth. I theorized that the more water and oil we remove the more the hum will be heard or felt ( i.e. earthquake ). The earth has a frequency, a vibration that is effected at the surface of the crust, hey its just a theory, who knows? Good luck!

  19. Graham Tomlin says:

    Is there any chance that this box could travel? I would love to get inside this box, but I would prefer to get into it in my home where I know this sound so perfectly. When the hum is humming away here, which is a solid 90% of the time, there would be no doubt whatsoever, for myself anyways, as to wether this box stops the hum. It would be a 100% yes or no result and it wouldn’t take no more then 30 seconds to get my answer in my location. I have zero ambient sounds to compete with at night in my location, which is probably what makes it so bad for me here. It would also be nice if other map entry points near me would be willing to try this in their own locations as well. This box needs to go on tour 🙂
    I am 1 ferry trip away. 4 ferries to return it home to you. But it would be beyond worth the cost to know the answer.
    I just may have to build I giant one of these to live the rest of my life inside of.

  20. Jonathan says:

    What you really need Glen is a subject who hears the hum at a loud level and near constantly.
    As I have said in a previous post I would love to get into your Deming box just to see if the level decreased but as you know my own personal view is that what we perceive as a VLF hum is not being produced in the air but in the head. To achieve this effect radio waves would have to be employed with tissue of the auditory nerve acting as a demodulator leaving just the VLF sound but how this type of RF technology is being used to give the impression that the sound appears to originate from outside the head is something else. Possibly a different kind of science related to radio frequency technology?

  21. Melissa says:

    It’s exciting about your move! I would gladly pay for a round-trip ticket from California and accommodations so I could test the box. Going on 3rd year now for me and recently it’s seemed louder. I don’t remember what uninterrupted sleep is like.

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