Home » Uncategorized » Another significant setback for Worldwide Hum research

Another significant setback for Worldwide Hum research

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Follow World Hum Map and Database Project on WordPress.com

The progress of research on the Worldwide Hum is agonizingly slow, yet we have made significant inroads into serious media with our efforts to normalize the phenomenon and increase awareness. I am greatly dismayed to see yet another article, this time in Newsweek, claiming the “Earth’s Hum” has been solved. You can read the article here: http://www.newsweek.com/earth-hum-sound-record-742075

This is interesting research, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the Worldwide Hum. The reporter, who has a Masters degree from Oxford in Medical Anthropology, should know better. But because of lazy reporting, we now have another hundred thousand or so people out there who have lost interest in the topic and will relegate groups like ours even further to the fringes. “It’s been solved, by actual scientists”, will become the automated response. What’s irritating about this coverage is that writers – perhaps for lack of a more accurate term – are using the word “hum” to describe the phenomenon investigated by the French scientists. The frequencies in question are far, far beyond the range of human hearing, and using the word “hum” conflates two phenomena that are unrelated. The writer, to her credit, made no references to “mystery sounds” and so on, but she is from England, and surely she knows that superficial (non-scientific) readers might get the wrong idea. Several members of my own family in other parts of Canada hurriedly sent me links to the Newsweek story when they saw it. They are bright and well-educated people, but they are neither scientists nor science teachers and they didn’t have the time or background to dig into the details.

And there are other, more subtle distractions. For example, the article states that scientists have been trying to record the Earth’s “hum” since 1959. This is yet another conflation with the Worldwide Hum, which was first reported in a widespread and reliable way around the same era, and which to my knowledge has never been demonstrably recorded.

I’m quite sure the reason our project has penetrated serious media to the extent it has, is because I’ve roundly rejected ridiculous conspiracies and pseudoscientific hogwash. We have slowly and steadily collected and published data, and participated in serious dialogues with scientists, physicians, and other scientifically literate people. It’s easy to let ennui set in when measurable progress is so infrequent, and when setbacks like the above article muddle the issue and change the subject. But if we stop every once in a while and look back and the distance we’ve traveled, it can motivate us to push forward.


42 Comments

  1. thehumco says:

    This is not a new theory, it’s just been polished up a bit. And certainly not the hum affecting me.

    • The point is, it’s not a “hum” at all. The science writers, and to some degree the scientists, are looking for a metaphor to describe an ultra-low frequency oscillation.

      • Eva Fishman says:

        Hi Glen –
        I haven’t commented for several months, but the article in the Washington Post (dated 12/10/17), got me in a snit. I noticed saymber also saw it and let you know about it.

        It IS frustrating because the skeptics adhere like velcro to such reporting as “proof” that what we experience is impossible because it is below the ability of human hearing, completely misconstruing that they are 2 separate phenomena. As soon as you say they aren’t the same thing, non-hearers reply we are trying to 1) give credence to and justify what we hear; 2) but it “obviously” doesn’t really exist, since humans aren’t capable of detecting it, 3) as scientists are now proving! It is like asking a man, “when did you stop beating your wife”; no matter how it is answered, he’s guilty of abuse even if innocent.

        I agree that the best “defense” is to continue using scientific processes and methods that withstand any challenges from scientists and “lay” people alike. We are ambassadors, and need to continue educating one person at a time.

        In several of my past posts I “noodled” on theories about possible causes for our experience (as well as other ideas), and I still wonder if it has more than one; that a “perfect storm” of natural phenomena and certain physiological and structural idiosyncrasies in some people, causes the HUM we experience. BTW, the past month to 6 weeks it has been so loud and obtrusive, especially during one 2-week period, it practically made me certifiable. It was relatively quiet to gone between May and October, with the occasional day or 2 of being loud. The last 4 days it has been gone, having been so loud the past 2-3 weeks it was driving me (and my dog) to distraction.

        There are no words to express the gratitude for your intelligence, determination, and giving your cogent, scientific voice to those of us who aren’t connected to the scientific community anymore. You don’t have to be a scientist to use scientific methods for problem solving.

        Eva F

  2. straightcue says:

    good go around, nice feedback from that article, thanks for the update Glen.. God bless (8

  3. thehumco says:

    Who funded this research, the industry responsible for the hum maybe?

    • That’s a legitimate question regarding any research, but not one that I’m pursuing in this case. I’ll admit that there have been a few past “science” stories out of Yahoo News that may me stop and wonder whether I was dealing with scientific illiteracy or thinly disguised corporate advocacy, but in the present case, these are serious researchers who are studying something separate from the Hum, and make no claims surrounding the Hum.

  4. Gail Hewitt says:

    I know nobody wants to connect this issue with politics, but many issues of science are subverted by political bias and have been right back to Capernicus and Galileo. This does not mean this magazine is unbiased and without an agenda. It also doesn’t mean that if you don’t a gree with their explanation that you believe in conspiracy theories. Science is sience and truth is truth. Ultimately the truth in all things will prevail despite people’s attempts to rewrite the laws of physics. Just hang in there and carry on with the purpose of this investigation and the truth will ultimately out. The world isn’t flat. Look how long it took us to figure out that one!

    • Actually, Eratosthenes nailed the circumference of the planet to within two percent of the accepted value around 240 BCE. The fact that there were some pockets of ignorance that set in after that is instructive in its own right, I think.

  5. Peter says:

    Thank you Glen for your tireless pursuit of this phenomena on behalf of all Hum experiencers who don’t have the time or single-minded determination. You’re a gem. Sounds like you want the legitimacy and expertise offered by traditional scientific networks but they’re not letting you in. Despite your sincere assurances that you can demonstrate competence and respect for the scientific method. You’re not alone. This is what the Open Science community is all about.

  6. Henrik says:

    Glen,

    The real Hum sufferers all know that this has nothing to do with what we are studying. You could contact the author and point out that an extremely slow seismic vibration in the milliHertz (!!) range cannot be called a Hum by any stretch of imagination. It should be called a “seismic resonance” or “seismic periodic vibration” related to the movements of the liquid core of the Earth.

  7. Glen –

    Please don’t despair too long about a lack of progress in making the general public more scientifically literate. Certainly, as well, don’t expect to bring (deadline-facing, general-coverage) journalist up to speed. Even “professional” scientist in prestigious journals ultimately come up short half the time. [The referenced Deen et al GRL paper is yet another signal-dug-out-of-immense-noise by statistics (or just as buzz-word jargon such as “glitch wavelet” and Fourier transform – which one)].

    Newsweek earned the sobriquet “News-Weak” after hard-won disregard for journalistic values!

    Media coverage of slippery disciplines such as medicine, sociology, nutrition, psychology, earth science, climate change, political science (what?) etc. is very generally going to be in the RANGE of significantly-confused to hopelessly-off-base.

    Please do note the progress you have inspired on this site. That’s what counts. And it is commendable and represents true progress.

    – Bernie

  8. George G. says:

    I do not see this report as a setback. In fact, it may even be a serendipitous turning point.

    Serious researchers have recorded a diurnal pulse. This is fact, not speculation.

    Some of those researchers have called this pulse “Earth Hum”. This term is more of a convenient nickname rather than a correct description, and not everyone of us involved in this research is comfortable with it.

    I prefer to call it “Earth Pulse.” And, as Henrik correctly pointed out, it does not qualify as a hum, unless we replay the recording at 100 X speed.

    The Hum, as we know it, has not been recorded. (Probably never will)

    So, if a pulse with a frequency measured in cycle per hours rather than cycles per second is sensed and recorded with standard electronic detection techniques, why hasn’t our Hum been recorded? It should be so much easier to record, shouldn’t it, if it exists? Shouldn’t it? Well?

    Perhaps our Hum does not have a physical existence?

    Despite the mix-up in associating the researchers’ work with this forum, I say we have been given a free wake-up call.

    The media have done us a great favour.

  9. Peter says:

    To act as devil’s advocate here – the scientific article that journalist reports on uses the word ‘hum’ (quoting: Abstract – The Earth’s hum is the permanent free oscillations of the Earth recorded in the absence ofearthquakes, at periods above 30 s. …)

    I wouldn’t be certain the journalist, or even the seismologists performing the research for that matter, are familiar with the hum as “defined” / explored at this site.

    Honestly, if I had the time (and motivation, i.e. if I was perceiving the hum and wanted to address it), what I’d do is:

    1. Cluster the data points you have gathered.

    2. Identify the most coherent and relevant cluster and consider that the most relevant phenomenon to address. My guess would be it’d turn out to be pointing to the internal low-frequency “tinnitus” one.

    3. Possibly expand the data set with further observations, collect volunteers (hum hearers) that would be willing to cooperate further. I think 30-50 data points / people from the cluster would be a good start and may not be as difficult to put together this way.

    4. Consult relevant scientists (neurologists in case my guess above would hold), and/or for example people looking for good PhD topic, etc.

    What I assume can follow is more thorough set of questionnaires/tests, aiming to find correlations and other associations that would shed more light and help pin-point the causes and mechanisms.

    The above may seem obvious, if so, apologies. I noted some may consider #4 the hard part, but with my experience (I happen to know some professional scientists), shouldn’t be that difficult. Those folks are naturally curious and well prepared initial dataset may be a tempting bait.

    • Good points, most of which have indeed been suggested, if not already explored. And I agree that #4 is crucial; in fact, I think that as soon as a major university picks up the mystery, the answer will be close at hand. Less than 10 minutes ago, however, I received a news alert from a major outlet in New Zealand, which demonstrates precisely the problem I was predicting. You can read it here:http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11956499. My question is, why is my name mentioned at all, let alone featured, in this article?

      • Peter says:

        You were right in predicting superficial journalists will connect it, but hopefully for those relevant for hum research the distinction should be clear and for general public this is rather obscure curiosity that’s not worth paying too much attention anyway; not sure if ‘public pressure’ is needed so much here.

        Anyway, the video in the URL you pasted did not load for me, but I think I googled it and I’ve seen you showing a metal box, which I understood you constructed to schield the inside from EM waves.

        Some time ago when learning about brain imaging techniques, I’ve got to know one of them (don’t remember the official name at this moment) relies on such miniscule EM measurements that the whole room where it operates is completely EM shielded. Now, if you consider such experiment still relevant, you may try to convince an establishment where this is run to spend some time inside; such room is pretty well guaranteed to work as EM shield I think.

      • TM says:

        Is it not fine that the article mentioned your work ? Those that experience the hum that I experience know instinctively that it isn’t caused by ‘minute movements in the Earth.’ The sentence ‘scientists say it is impossible to hear the hum’ is hugely irrelevant to me. I can hear it, and it switches on, up, down and off.

        When they are exposed to news of this site’s existence, hum sufferers can bypass the cynical journalistic ‘some think it may be aliens building tunnels’ nonsense and find they aren’t alone in their perception, whereas before they were. What strikes me as important is a place where those people are represented, and you have created that place.

      • I want to be sure you caught my main point: the scientists in that article are not talking about the same thing we are. The scientists state correctly that it is impossible to hear what they measured. I view their use of the word “hum” as highly unfortunate (not to mention inaccurate). My guess is that they were looking for a poetic word that lay people could appreciate.

      • TM says:

        I did understand your point, and the inclusion of your name in the report is odd for the reasons you set out. To conflate the two subjects is peculiar, but maybe only explicable to non-hum hearers. It suggests that not only journalists are lazy, but some scientists too.

        There are only two types of people where the hum is concerned – those who hear it and those who don’t. As a 5 year long hum-hearer (not tonight BTW), the explanation that the cause is mating fish, shifting sea bed sand or tiny movements in the Earth’s crust doesn’t cut the mustard.

        If it did , I’m sure Shakespeare would have mentioned the hum of mating fish somehwere. Things were quieter back then, so this ‘natural’ hum would have been a discussion point in literature. That sounds simplistic, but it’s valid.

        I’m rambling on, but my point as that I think the only way this subject will get the attention it deserves is through stats, which your site collates. At some point a funded research team will see a viable project in researching ‘the hum’ , not just glueing ‘A hum’ to ‘THE hum’.

      • Glen –

        True the word “hum” for this ocean vibration is misleading at best. The wording “inaudible to human ears” as used in Newsweek doesn’t help all that much. It could be it is inaudible as being too low in frequency, too low in amplitude, or too low in harmonic content – probably all three in this case.

        Often we hear of a writer as thoughtfully using an imprecise metaphorical term to accommodate the less knowledgeable general reader when it is rather the case that the writer is avoiding the possibility of documenting the writer’s lack of understanding.

        At least we didn’t get the pictures of a globe with a sketched-on smiley face with musical notes coming out the mouth.

  10. david says:

    Why don’t we turn this into an opportunity. While it is still new in the minds of Newsweek and the author have Hum sufferers draft a response and email it to them both?

    People from the four corners of the World sending testimonies and disapproval to the article may lead to a more positive outcome.

    Also if there are any sufferers in Tbilisi, Georgia I would like to get in touch. Im here two months now and the Hum has been a daily occurrence/annoyance for the last two weeks.

    • Good idea, and that’s the reason why I wrote the post you responded to. I notice from the site statistics that hundreds of other people have read it as well. Regarding Hum hearers in Georgia (I assume you mean the State, rather than the country), if you go through the live database (not the published one), sometimes people choose to enter their email address. You can find the link to the live database elsewhere in this blog.

  11. TM says:

    Hi Glen,
    something else struck me last night which has some connection to your concern about disparate (and desperate) links to the hum.
    I notice that the hum map is to a great extent based around knowledge of English.
    This could be why clusters of entries in Europe are in Northern Europe, not in France or Spain where many people don’t speak fluent English, and don’t Google in English.
    I live in Brittany, France. Having travelled all over Brittany, it’s clear that the hum can be heard everywhere (by hum-hearers, obviously). There have been a few attempts by French hum-hearers to start blogs, but the staying power isn’t there.

    The Oceanographic institute in Brest released a report a couple of years ago which reported on a hum caused by shifting sand on the sea bed. This was another set of data which uninformed journalists conflated with THE hum, thus confusing the issue further.

    I think your work and site has the potential to internationally unify disparate groups of hum-hearers who think and act locally only through lack of contact on a global level, primarily through language barriers.
    If you would like help with translating the database questions into French or Dutch (I notice the Dutch language link is not yet live), my wife and I can help out.
    All the best.

  12. Helene Brouchoud says:

    Dear Glen,
    I am French and live in Paris and since 2014 I spend half the year in Italy , Panicale, Umbria (near Perugia). Here, in Italy I have been hearing the “hum” since 2015 (never hear it in France before; I am 51). I have tryed very hard to find the source of this noise, that I am the only one among my family and neighbourhood to hear. Even the employees of the ARPA (agenzia regionale per la protezione dell’ambiente) came at home to measure the noise. The measurements are not relevant (spectrum of the micro too broad I guess).
    My questions are the following:
    1/ Has the Hum been measured and recorded ?
    2/ Are the frequency of the Hum known ?
    3/ Do you know if there are some scientific research done in Italy on the subject ?
    4/ How can I enter in relation with people who hear the hum in my region ?

    I would like also to add something that I have not read in the testimonies, if never it can be relevant: when I arrive in the house in Italy, it takes 4 or 5 days before I hear the hum, as if the ears or the brain need a time to adapt and capt this noise.

    Best regards,

    Hélène

    • Hi Hélène – good report, interesting details.

      Most of what you say is in line with the notion that you do hear the conventional “Hum” under discussion here: you personally searched hard for the source; professional equipment did not find it; only you hear it; and travel disrupted the onset by about a week. The only contrary factor would seem to be that you hear it in Italy but not in France, as the Hum tends to travel with you. However, a noisy environment (Paris?!) makes the Hum hard to notice, and Panicale looks like a very peaceful location.

      To your questions:

      1/ The Hum under discussion here is NOT an external physical sound. Likely it is generated in the ear (middle or inner ear). It has never been recorded or displayed electronically. [ Similar “precepts” (trucks, pumps, etc.) are real sounds and are easily displayed/recorded. ]

      2/ The frequencies (pitches) are very low and vary with the individual. Glen hears 56 Hz and I hear 64 Hz, both roughly an octave above the lowest note on the piano. It is hard to hear these as pure tones (sinewaves) so they likely have significant harmonic overtones.

      3/ Glen’s map suggests the widespread nature of the Hum phenomenon, and it likely is not regional, so all efforts reported are worthy, except those with a located source (perhaps a municipal pump or a factory), or those seeking only sensational explanations!

      4/ Again, I advise against regional thinking as opposed to worldwide. Perhaps the most promising approach to relief is to experiment with distractions such as white noise generators. Many find these the most useful.

      I wonder if the Hum is the price you pay for living in what seems a delightfully peaceful town. Hope it is just a mild annoyance.

      Thanks again – good data. –Bernie

      • Helene Brouchoud says:

        Thanks so much for your answer Bernie. To be honest, I have already heard the hum in Paris but just 2 or 3 times, and in others places that mine own apartment. It is very thrue that Paris is a very noisy environnement. And Panicale is so quiet, so peaceful !
        The good news in your answer is that I can stop bother people with the research of the source of this noise.
        The bad news is that I have to deal with it. It is not a big annoyance when I stay there just for 2 or 3 weeks. I hear it but the pleasure to be there is stronger. But when I stay longer, after 2 or 3 months, it starts to be difficult to ignore it. It can be very loud and prevents from getting asleep.
        The frequencies are indeed between 50 and 70 herz.
        I am going to get information about white noise generators.
        Thank you again so much for all the reasearch and the work you do !

        Hélène

      • Hi Hélène –

        Thanks. Hearing it at least occasionally in Paris fills out the profile as standard Hum – welcome to the club. Not sure that’s an honor!

        You can get some white noise generators/files on line to try. A small fan running or a bathroom fan left on also seems useful.

        My best wishes.

        Bernie

    • Jess J says:

      Helene, there is no actual proof of the origin of the hum as yet (external or internal generation), but it stands to reason that it is our (the hearers’) reaction to / perception of an external source. Why? It is my experience, as well as others, that the “noise” is on a schedule and is being controlled (much like the comments on this site). Watch (or listen) for consistencies / patterns by the clock.

      By the way, white noise works like a charm.

      • Okay, I guess you’ve goaded me into a brief reply on this one, regarding “control” on this site. Of course there is control. Unless everybody here wants ads for Ukranian brides, male enhancement pills, and general quackery, this blog needs oversight. There is no censorship here – everybody gets at least one chance at any theory, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to let a loud minority dominate and indeed dillute the more promising lines of enquiry. We aim to be serious here, which is why, for the same reason, Scientific American will not run articles on topics that have been discredited by a consensus of working scientists; that is, unless new, convincing, and verfiable evidence is brought forward.

      • Jess –

        I suspect that the established “Hum” that so many of us here hear is not what you yourself hear. In particular, the Hum does not turn ON/OFF on any schedule, as yours apparently does. Yet you have NOT reported here any precise details about your schedule or the geographical range over which it is heard (or I have not seen such details at least). Being “economical” with your observational evidence does not make your case. So it is hard to judge – but obviously, if yours IS on a schedule and others have it 24/7 (always – “on demand” when quiet enough) we most likely are talking about different things. One could well be external (like a municipal pump) and the other internal. Apples/oranges.

        In addition to details of your “Schedule”, let me ask some related questions:

        (1) What pitch does your hum match to?

        (2) Does your hum turn off with the “head shake procedure” I have described (and asked you about previously)? If not, you don’t seem to be afflicted with the typical Hum. If so, how does your personal headshake turn on/off something like a HAARP transmitter.

        (3) How many other people, if any, have been with you when you listen? What do they report?

        I appreciate your time.

        Bernie

      • Jess J says:

        Bernie, you write “In particular, the Hum does not turn ON/OFF on any schedule”.

        You mean “yours” doesn’t. Where is your proof that ALL hum hearers experience the same as you? You’re speaking on behalf of thousands, are you? I do not pretend to speak for all others, but I know from this site and others sites addressing this issue that there are others who have noticed a timing aspect. This is a very important factor to consider, whether you experience it or not. The really interesting factor here is why you get so ruffled when commenters bring this up, and have different experiences than you do. Why would that be?

  13. Helene Brouchoud says:

    Bernie, I am a little bit disturbed by what you say. I have started to hear the Hum for the first time in my house in Panicale (Italy) in july 2015. Before, I was living all the time in Paris in a very quiet apartment. Never heard the Hum. When I am in Panicale, after 4-5 days, I hear the hum. And it never stops, day and night. The annoyance of the Hum depends on what I am doing (the max of the annoyance being at the time to get asleep). I never noticed it stops when shaking the head.
    I am rightnow again in Paris, and I don’t hear the hum. Next time I am in Panicale, I will experiment the shake of the head ! In the meantime I would like to know what is a white noise ?

    • Hi again Hélène –

      Thank you so much for carefully reading what I assemble. It encourages me to slow down and take my time, as is generally advisable.

      (1) First with regard to head shaking. This is hard to do! A vigorous shaking silences the Hum while the shaking is going on, but you can only do this a few seconds before fatigue occurs. The Hum then reappears in about half a second. You don’t have much of a chance to note that it IS GONE, but rather that it RAMPS BACK UP after each shake attempt. I compare it to swatting at a fly over my cluttered desk – I think I got him but in a half second, he is out of the rubble and back in my face. This shaking is no remedy, but rather a diagnostic test. Ordinary sounds are not interrupted in this manner.

      (2) The delay in Hum onset in Panicale is of interest because it is established that persons who generally hear the Hum may have it stop for several days following air travel, and likely by surface travel involving mountains. The implications associate with the well-known pressure changes in the middle ear (“ear popping’). Your delay may well be the same (not well-understood) process.

      (3) “White noise” is a random noise like air escaping from a leaky automobile tire, or a heavy but gentle rain, as at this link:

      https://mynoise.net/NoiseMachines/whiteNoiseGenerator.php

      I think this “white rain” starts automatically and just keeps running. You can make adjustments to the “color”. Fun to play with. The “masking” notion is to use just enough to distract from the Hum.

      Bernie

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