Home » Who is behind this project?

Who is behind this project?



This news and research blog augments the World Hum Database and Mapping Project located http://www.thehum.info

Dr. Glen MacPherson lectured for 16 years at the University of British Columbia (UBC), training mathematics teachers in the Faculty of Education, and worked for 10 years with UBC Robson Campus with its GMAT and GRE curriculum program. He is also an ethnographic researcher, and high school teacher of physics, mathematics, psychology, general science, and biology. He lives and works on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. His books, articles, and speaking engagements focus primarily on mathematics education.

After first noticing the Hum in spring of 2012 and discovering the Hum community, he sensed the need for a unified, moderated, and serious place for discussions and research surrounding the world Hum. This led to the World Hum Map and Database Project.

The leading theory is that the world Hum is an internally generated audiological phenomenon, possibly related to otoacoustic emissions.  (Note that tinnitus is also a self-reported audio effect, although it manifests quite differently from the Hum.) There are four competing theories.

This is a place for disciplined inquiry, and not for wild speculation and conspiracy. There are many entertaining and interesting websites available for those who want to indulge in those activities.

Contact Glen at glen.macpherson@gmail.com



  1. Lisa Allen says:

    Bernie, regarding your comment of September 24th, would there be any other reason besides having our windows open or closed that would account for a change in the volume of the hum? We leave our windows closed all year round but still the hum is always much louder when it’s very hot here (in South Carolina) and not so bad in the winter months. Everyone’s a/c is really cranked up in the summer, plus being a tourist town with hotels lining the beach, the population swells to over 100,000 in the summer months. I have wondered if all the power being used is creating some kind of rumble that is exacerbated by some internal mechanism at play too. The heat isn’t used nearly as much in the winter as the a/c is in the summer as our winters are generally mild.

    • Lisa Allen said in part OCTOBER 21, 2018 AT 10:16 PM: “…..would there be any other reason besides having our windows open or closed that would account for a change in the volume of the hum?. . . . . “

      Possible reasons would depend on whether we were considering an internal or an external source as the possibility. My Sept 24 comment was in response to a comment about internal sourcing: open windows letting in masking sounds.

      [ It is also worth considering that full-on masking of an internal sound might be a case of CONTINUOUS interruptions – as with continuous head-shakes (if anyone could do that!) . ]

      If your humming sounds are of external origin, it might well be louder for you during summer when a/c is running and tourist density is much higher, while your own year-round closed windows are not part of your equation (balanced out).

      – Bernie

    • Janet Menage says:

      I recently attended an International Conference (in West Sussex, UK) on man-made electromagnetic/microwave radiation (EMF, wi-fi, 2-5G phone radiation, smart meters etc) and asked questions of the speakers regarding the possibility of an EMF aetiology for The Hum.

      Professor Martin L Pall PhD, Professor Emeritus at the School of Molecular Biosciences at Washington State University, told me that EMF/microwaves have been shown to affect the Voltage Gated Calcium Channels (VGCC) in cell membranes. The result is an excess of calcium ions inside the cell and a consequent disturbance of electrical function and cell communication.

      He said that this could happen in the auditory (vestibular) nerve and cause the sensation of low frequency noise (microwave hearing). Indeed, disturbance of VGCCs in other nerves and tissues in the body could produce other perceived effects.

      Dr Erica Mallery-Blythe BMBS is a specialist in RF safety and an expert on the medical condition of Electrical Hypersensitivity (EHS). She stated that microwave radiation/EMF is known to produce tinnitus, headaches, brainfog, fatigue, anxiety, depression, aches and pains, heart paliptations, sleep disturbance and other symptoms in some sensitive people. It is known experimentally that microwaves can induce voices in people’s heads.

      Professor Pall did not think that the Hum was related to a thermo-acoustic effect but was a dysfunction of the electrical activity of the nervous system from VGCC disturbance.

      Lisa, if your local population swells, there is a possibility that the EM radiation from a larger number of smartphones is contributing to the environmental ‘electrosmog’. The film,’Generation Zapped’, is well worth a watch.

      • Henrik says:


        Having spent my entire career in electrical engineering, telecommunications and wireless, I am myself quite concerned over the health effects of long-term exposure to strong EMF fields. But we need to keep in mind that all effects are proportional to the intensity multiplied by the exposure time, and intensity decreases with the square of the distance. So we should not become paranoid about it. The strongest long-term exposures come from Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cordless phones, baby monitors and cellphones. However, since we now use cellphones mostly in speaker mode and not at the ear, the intensity is much lower, even if the exposure times may be longer. Today’s cell towers do not pose a radiation risk unless you have an antenna just outside your window, because the antennas have a high vertical directivity, and simply point over your head.

        However, the new 5G technology will mean millions of new base stations, which may one day appear just outside our windows, often placed at the top of utility poles. Then we must react.

        Two of the speakers at your conference, Dr. Dimitris Panagopoulos and Professor Martin L Pall, have publicized scientific papers on exactly how EMF affects the cells. But Martin Pall also reminds us, that RF radiation is used as a therapeutic tool as well, so all radiation is not automatically dangerous.

        Importantly for our Hum project, there is so far no proof of a real-time link between EMF and internally generated “Hum”. EMF remains as one of the possible sensitizing factors, although the detailed mechanisms are still unknown. In my personal opinion there is a much more probable link between the Hum and medications, electrolyte balances and nutritional factors, which in a much more immediate way can influence the nerve system.

      • Lisa Allen says:

        Your post was very interesting. I just read that our population here is normally 32,000, but 14 milllion tourists come to our city every year, mostly in the spring and summer months. Since it is very hot here, I thought that maybe it was the extra power being used on air conditioning that was making the hum so loud in the summer; I hadn’t thought about all the additional cell phones though. It’s an interesting theory. I will look for the movie you recommended. Friday I am going to New York City for five days and staying in the Times Square area. The hotel we’re staying in is supposed to be quiet (how, I don’t know). If it is, I wonder if the hum will be loud with millions of cell phones nearby? I didn’t expect to hear the hum in New York City but maybe I’ll be surprised.

      • Thanks Henrik –

        A few years back at a local public meeting on smart meters, I questioned the legitimacy of a particular frequent “authority” (who was cited by the utility company as claiming the harmlessness of RF from the meters) on the basis that the same (PhD) had also testified as well that cigarettes do not cause cancer – except when he was instead employed in court to defend the asbestos interest! Good laugh. I had prefaced my remark saying that I myself suspected the meters were not harmful, and was only objecting to the bogus authority being on the utility’s website (they took it down – to their credit).

        With the Hum (the internal one) do we really need, let alone expect, a direct cause, or even a sensitizing factor. On available evidence, it is idiopathic – perhaps even just the result of random variations in the way each individual happens to be constructed. Do we really need to consider RF exposure, medicines, nutrition, etc.? I read all the 631 entries on the first of the recent revisions of Glen’s map and saw no even subtle common threads. Let alone anything that resonated with my own case. Did I miss something?


      • Henrik says:


        What I tried to say was, that there are many proven ill effects of long-term RF radiation, especially for electro-sensitive people, effects which over time will affect a much bigger population than the hum sufferers in the world. But for our specific subject, the Hum, there is so far no evidence, only a theoretical possibility, of a connection.

        And since this World Hum project aims at identifying the mechanisms and root causes of The Hum, I think we need to look into all possible leads, including medicines, etc. I don’t think most hum sufferers are happy with the answer idiopathic, = “we don’t know the cause”.

      • Thank you for the meaningful discourse on this. Dealing with incredulity, if not plain inertia, within the scientific community takes some time and effort, even when the evidence is convincing. It also takes time and effort to confront and rebut some absolute nonsense, even when the evidence is overwhelming. There seems to be a gathering corpus of research, particularly out of Scandinavia, that raises some serious concerns about long-term exposure to wifi-rich and other environments. We’ll know before long. The connection to the Hum, if anything, might be that the Hum results from exposure to some types and levels of EM (but as an after-effect, just as tinnitus can be an after-effect from exposure to very loud noises). I’m terrible for tangents sometimes, but on another note, for the encouragement of any non-physical-science reader of this thread, there is another question just as important as the potential health impacts of EM: when did the Hum actually start? Once we can answer this with some certainty, then we start asking all the right questions. This can be done by anybody with full-text, online access to old newspapers and good record keeping skills. Message me if you are interested.

  2. Lisa Allen says:

    I mentioned a while ago that I had made an appointment to see the head of the Ear, Nose and Throat department at a hospital in my area. Well, I did, and in the event that it can help just one person I would like to share my experience. I actually saw him twice – about a month ago and again today. At the first appointment I had several tests before I met with the doctor. I did fine on all of them. He asked me a lot of questions and I described the hum as best as I could, and gave him printouts of Glen’s four theories, the World Hum Map, Henrik’s Logic Map and a few other things to convey to him that this is a serious problem for thousands of people all over the world! I told him how it gets very loud at night, how it’s difficult to sleep, and all the things us hum hearers experience. He said he thought it warranted further investigation and ordered a CT Scan of my ears. He also told me that it could be “Pulsitile Tinnitus,” which I had never heard of. He showed me how to find my pulse on my wrist so I could see if it matched the pulsing of the sound I was hearing. There are some very good articles on pulsitile tinnitus online, by the way. This morning I had my CT Scan and afterwards saw the doctor again. He said everything looked good (I have a copy of the report with all the details) but that the bone next to the blood vessel was a little thinner than normal, and said it’s possible that is allowing me to hear the flow of my blood (if it is internal). I saw the image; it’s a small area of bone to begin with so having a little less than normal is only about a quarter inch of less bone. He said that is only a guess, and it wasn’t on the report. On the report, under “Impression” it stated; 1) No definite etiology identified to explain the patient’s tinnitus; and 2) Mild hypoplasia of both horizontal semicircular canals, likely congenital. I looked up “hypoplasia” and found this definition: “Hypoplasia (from Ancient Greek ὑπo- hypo-, “under” + πλάσις plasis, “formation”; adjective form hypoplastic) is underdevelopment or incomplete development of a tissue or organ. Although the term is not always used precisely, it properly refers to an inadequate or below-normal number of cells.” I don’t know if this has anything to do with hearing the hum or not. But despite all this, I still have several questions. If the hum is due to a thinner than normal bone or hypoplasia, why did I just start hearing it in 2016? Why is it louder in the summer than in the winter? (The doctor couldn’t answer this). Why doesn’t it sound the same wherever I go, and whatever the season is? Why do I occasionally meet people that hear and describe the same thing that I hear? I don’t see how it can be both internal AND external, yet to me, personal experience points to this being the case. Also, assuming it is at least in part internal, it may have little to do with problems of the ears and more to do with problems with our arteries or veins.

    • J.O. says:

      Nice post!

      • Janet Menage says:

        Henrik, I believe we also need to take into consideration the fact that man-made EM is polarised and pulsed. As it is polarised (natural EM is omnidirectional) it can interfere with itself and produce ‘hot spots’ of intensity, rather like the two-slits experiment where a photon produces augmentation and cancellation areas – light and dark bands. Polarised EM can therefore cause biological damage at a distance from the source, I understand.

    • Lisa –

      I recall that in June/July of 2018 we were close to having you zoom in on a power substation ¼ mile away as a likely external source for your hum. You identified a loud hum the same as the one at home at about the expected 120 Hz (A#) pitch.

      Of course, this 120 Hz is not caused by a heart-pulse rate which would have a repetition frequency of perhaps 1-2 Hz (indeed sub-audio) and two orders of magnitude lower than what others hear as hum. But:

      (1) While sub-audio (below 20 Hz) you might “perceive” a pulse repetition rate (of say 1.5 Hz) much as you notice a carpenter striking a nail with a hammer at that rate. But that’s the brain noticing a repetition pattern rather than the ear as a frequency analyzer.

      (2) The heart-pulse rate seems unlikely (you would have long-ago made the association), so you still need to consider other possible sources such as the Low-Frequency Tinnitus (LFT – “the Hum” – internal – my version of which is at 64 Hz), or a substation “buzz” at 120 Hz. If the hum is really the substation at 120 Hz, you and most others nearby, would hear it. It would add to any LFT anyone happened to already have – further confusing things!

      – Bernie

      • Lisa Allen says:

        Hi Bernie, Yes, of course I remember the substation. However I went there at least 7 or 8 times, and only the first time did it sound like the hum at home. Every other time it was much quieter. Also, several nights I turned the power off to the house and turned on the spectrum analyzer and there was no peak at 120 hz. If the sound of the hum was from the substation wouldn’t I see that peak? It only showed under -100 decibles and under 100 hertz. I understand that can be the internal noise generated by the cell phone, correct? When I’ve used the online tone generator my hum is about 80 to 90 hz, so it’s a little higher than yours. What exactly is Low Frequency Tinnitus and what causes it? I can’t say that I have it or I don’t have it because I don’t have enough information about what it is. Does it just mean I hear something that sounds like a low frequency noise but is internal? What I’d like to know is where this noise is coming from. If it’s internal there has got ot be reason or cause. That’s why I got a CT Scan, to see if that could shed any light on this. Maybe it’s the thinner then normal bone covering my blood vessel that’s allowing me to hear my blood flow. Whether or not it’s true, at least it makes some sense. Regardless of what name it’s given, I’d like to know what’s causing it, whether it’s internal, external, or a combination of the two.

      • Thanks Lisa –

        As for the substation hum, you said (indeed – previously as well) that it was very loud the first time you went there, but much quieter on later visits. Not implausibly, the power company changed out an offending transformer – it dives them crazy too. Do you recall what the home level was after your subsequent visits? Or is this your 80-90 Hz report here?

        * * * * * * * *
        As for “Low-Frequency Tinnitus” (LFT) it is a term I use (somewhat reluctantly) for what I have also called the “traditional hum” or just “The Hum” to refer to an INTERNAL manifestation of what is a rare but quite typically described perceptual phenomenon.


        For the general public, “tinnitus” is likely a reference to a high-pinched “ringing in the ear” (perhaps 4-8 kHz). Apparently however, ENT types use the term more generally. Frosch for example, says: “Everything that is heard without an external sound-equivalent is tinnitus by definition.” Perhaps so? See:

        Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 27, No. 4, pp. 603–624, 2013 0892-3310/13

        So – it is nothing new. In as much as there MAY BE an “edge pitch” symmetry between ordinary (high-freq. tinnitus) and the upper roll-off of hearing (a theory more popular 5 years ago); and back down on the low-frequency end with the Hum and low-frequency roll-off (say 100 Hz), it is not totally out of the blue.

        * * * * * * * *

        Regarding “internal noise generated by the cell phone” this is not just for cell-phones but for any electronic device (even just a length of wire) and is due to “thermal noise” – just a restless random motion of electrons above absolute zero. A signal at a particular “noise floor” is unlikely to be a major irritation.

        – Bernie

    • Henrik at November 7, 2:53 pm said in part with regard to RF: “. . . . . But for our specific subject, the Hum, there is so far no evidence. . . . . . . .’

      I agree with all you said – particularly the part I just quoted.

      Perhaps someone will take the time to peruse Glen’s map entries 632-1354 searching for medical profiles from those who seem to be hearing the Hum based on evidence (as entered) of being able to head-shake interrupt the Hum and not having associates around who also hear it.

      As for idiopathic – Mark Twain: “I was gratified to be able to answer promptly, and I did. I said I didn’t know.”

      – Bernie

    • Janet Menage says:

      Lisa, are you able to reduce your Hum intensity in any way – eg. by putting hands over ears, metal earplugs, head shakes, changing position, changing location etc.? If your Hum is purely internally generated due to anatomical factors, the blocking of external stimuli will make it sound louder due to removing a masking effect. If the Hum reduces when you block your ears then you are being stimulated from outside your body. That is not to say that there couldn’t be a synergistic effect – an internal susceptibility (eg. electrical hypersensitivity, anatomical anomaly, biochemical disturbance) plus an external stimulus, combining to produce the Hum experience. But if you can reduce the loudness of the Hum it cannot be exclusively internally-generated tinnitus.
      I agree with you, Lisa – my experience is also that it is likely internal AND external. My Hum gets louder with changes in atmospheric pressure – often worse with high pressure, and heavy rain can bring relief, although that could be just noise-masking. I only started hearing it about 3 years ago but it is definitely getting worse. My body feels to vibrate as well. This morning I woke at 2am and there seemed to be a periodicity of around 3 seconds – a sine wave effect with crescendoes then diminuendoes (peaks and troughs like surges of sound/vibration) on a 3 second cycle. The heartbeat is there but there is a variation superimposed on top of that. One of my neighbours gets a ten minute periodicity in the abdominal vibrations he experiences. Electrosensitivity was recognised decades ago in radar workers so it’s not necessarily just since wireless gadgets.
      Does anyone know what periodicity radars use? And distance covered? I live down the coast from a military base.

      • J.O. says:

        I wanted to jump in on Janet’s recent post with a personal observation. Last night with my left ear against the pillow I blocked off my right ear. And, I could still hear the hum, but it was different. Much more faint, and at a slightly different perceived frequency. I felt like I was “feeling” it more than hearing it. So for the first time, I experienced the Hum as more internal than external.

      • Lisa Allen says:

        Janet, when I put my fingers inside of my ears, I can’t hear the hum. Of course I can’t stay like that but I don’t hear it when I do that. I also put a pillow over my head at night and that helps when I can still hear the hum over my two sound machines. I have wondered why that works when foam earplugs don’t. The head shake doesn’t work for me because that motion creates noise which in itself blocks the hum. My neck and head make alot of noise when I shake my head, slowly or vigorously. I have rheumatoid arthritis so maybe I am especially creaky, I don’t know. The hum seems louder in my bedroom than other rooms in the house, and although I hear it in varying intensities in different places, I don’t hear it everywhere. And when I do hear it in different places, it is never as loud as it is in my own home. Also interesting to me is that I held on to my little flip phone for a long time and never heard the hum until about 8 months after I bought my smart phone. I don’t know if that’s connected or not but I’ve wondered about that. That’s interesting that you live near a military base. I live on a former Air Force Base and the AIr Force uses our local airport which is about a mile from my house. Also I have read that others, like you (and myself) report that changes in atmospheric pressure makes the hum louder. There was a machine that measured electricity in peoples’ bodies that I saw many years ago in a museum in NYC – I don’t remember which museum it was. Do these exist somewhere? When I put my fingers in the slot the needle jumped completely to the right, indicating I had a very high level of electricity! The friend I was with also tried this and was in the average range. Is this what you mean by electrosensitivity? I don’t know where you can find a machine like that but it would be interesting if we could all test ourselves with one.

  3. Lisa Allen says:

    J.O. – thanks. It seems that if we could get 10 or 20 hum hearers to get a CT Scan we could see if there is a pattern. Of course the more, the better, but any number is better than none. We have to start somewhere if we’re going to investigate possible internal causes. The doctor said surgery was a possibility “if it really bothered” me. Yes, it does really bother me, but I wouldn’t consider surgery. I have learned to live with it and except for the summer months, it’s bearable. But it would still be nice to know what’s causing it.

    • Janet Menage says:

      Re CT scans. Adding a significant x-ray dose to auditory nerves that are already potentially compromised might make the condition worse. Certainly electrosensitive persons can be potentially damaged by fMRI scans, so investigating for research purposes without the possibility of a cure might be unwise.

      • Lisa Allen says:

        Janet, that is good to know. I felt I had to do it though because I wanted to see if there was anything internally that could be causing this. But there’s no need to do it again.

  4. Lisa Allen says:

    Bernie, the volume of the hum at home hadn’t changed after the substation became quieter – it was the same. It’s very possible the power company changed out a transformer. But now I really don’t think it was the substation.

    Yes, I have noticed too that ENTs lump everything under “tinnitus.” Our hum is nothing like a high pitched tinnitus so I think it’s deserving of a different name (staying with the hypothesis for now that it’s internal). So I guess Low Frequency Tinnitus is as good a name as any: it makes clear that it’s internal and differentiates it from the more common, high pitched tinnitus.

    But I would like to understand why our hum sounds external, unlike other internal noises. Internal noises like a high pitched tinnitus, a growling stomach, our heartbeat, and swallowing, are all clearly internal sounds. What makes our hum different than those other internal noises? The fact that it sounds so convincingly external (again, assuming for now that it’s not) to thousands of people, shouldn’t be brushed aside. The fact that the hum sounds different in different places also tells me that something else is at play, unlike when our stomach growls, which sounds the same regardless of where we are and what season it is. I heard the hum at my sister’s house in NJ which sounded really odd; I heard it in North Carolina and in Scotland and it sounds different in each location. Could weather, terrain, wind or other external factors effect the way the hum sounds in different places? That, together with other local noises? The sky looks blue but science has explained to us why it’s perceived that way but in fact isn’t blue. In the same way, maybe there is a logical explanation for why the hum sounds external even though it may not be. Also, the hum started for all of us at a particular point in time so some kind of change occurred. What was it? How can we figure these things out, and what do we need that we don’t have to do that?

    • J.O. says:

      Another great post Lisa with some solid questions. I sometimes experience tinnitus but have always thought it internal, where to me the Hum seems external. And as an update to my personal situation. I stopped hearing the hum again in May of 2018. I heard it again for most of the first week of Oct. and now most of this week as well. It has not been intense enough yet to cause me sleep issues or otherwise drive me nuts.

      I still think the silence room in MN would help answer the internal/external question (at least for the one who experiences it).
      I wonder if there are enough folks following this topic to crowd fund a trip to the most quiet “place on earth”. And as Lisa seems to hear the hum everywhere, she might be a good candidate…if she wants to.
      I’d be willing to kick in a bit. A hundred people at $25/per or 200 people at $10/per ought to cover the transportation & lodging. I’m sure Glen could use his credentials to pave the way for a time block inside. This is the one thing that I think could shed some light on the internal vs external question. (for some anyway).

      • Lisa Allen says:

        J.O. – That’s so interesting that you stopped hearing the hum in May, and started hearing it again in October. Is there something about the summer that made it stop, I wonder? Is your description of the hum the same as most other hum hearers, i.e., louder at night, pulsing or droning, low frequency, sounds like a diesel engine or something similar? Do you hear it in other places besides your home? Have you used a spectrum analyzer, like Spectrum or something similar, to see if there are any peaks with the power to your house turned off?

        Until recently I was 100% convinced it was external, but after getting my CT Scan I’m not so sure now – I think it’s possible that it’s internal with some kind of external influence. Plus the spectrum analyzer I use on my phone picks up nothing when I turn the power off to my house, unless the hum, if external, overlaps with the internal noise of the cell phone. If the hum was 90 hertz for example, and the spectrum analyzer shows the internal noise of the cell phone at about 90-100 hertz, then I wouldn’t be able to see evidence of the hum. I would need an instrument with no internal noise, which I don’t have.

        That’s very nice of you to suggest a fund to help pay for a trip to the quiet room in MN. I would go, but I can pay for it myself. I’ve never been to Minneapolis so maybe I’d make a little vacation out of it. But a fund is a good idea if others are willing to go, too. I am going on vacation next week though, then there is Thanksgiving, Christmas, and cold, snowy weather in Minneapolis, so maybe the Spring would be a good time to go. I think it would be helpful if several people went; although it would be nice to meet other hum hearers we wouldn’t all have to go at the same time. The more information we have, the better, and this would be one more way to possibly learn something new.

      • J.O. says:

        Hi Lisa,
        I first heard the Hum in about Dec. of 2015. It stopped for me around April/May of 2016. Repeat that for 2017 (Dec.-April) & 2018 (Jan-May and now Oct.). I only hear it during the colder months. I have heard it at my Mother’s house about 7 miles away, but it is more faint there. It is MUCH louder indoors than out, and now that’s it’s back, I’ve done the “head-shake” and I don’t hear it while shaking, but there is no interruption when I stop shaking.

        In the past, it has sounded like a diesel engine idling not too far away and I estimated it at a low RPM’s of around 300. So far this Oct. is sounds more like a Caterpillar 3516 engine used to move natural gas at about 1,200 RPM’s. There is some pulsating, but mostly a constant drone. Last Feb. I could hear/feel it even when watching TV…it got so loud for a couple months that it was driving me nuts! My wife says, “Just ignore it and try not to think about it”. Yeah right. I wake up at 2:00 AM to use the bathroom and there it is…loud. And coming out of a deep sleep it is not really something I’m thinking about. I just hear it.

        I have not tried any tech equipment to investigate. When I stopped hearing it in May, I just hoped it was gone for good.

        I noticed you and others that live in warmer climates hear it mostly in the summer and you have mentioned AC being used a lot during this time. Around here in Colorado winter would be a larger power draw as people are keeping their homes warm.

        One other observation, this past summer a tel-com company was using a hydro-vac to make a hole to pull cable under the 2 -lane, paved road about 1/3 mile from our house. It was a different pitch than the Hum, but I could hear it inside my home more loudly than i could hear it outside. Like the sound/vibration was being transmitted through the foundation of the home…just as it appears to do with the Hum.

        And on the “silent room”. You’re right. if multiple people went there and either heard it inside or did not hear it inside, I think that would add to the scant existing evidence that exists. I do remember though that Glen said it took a few days for him to start hearing it when he went to Russia a while back so that factor would have to worked into the experiment.

    • Lisa – on why it may seem external.

      The ear/brain is skilled (to our survival advantage) at recognizing patterns among our myriad perceptual inputs. Most likely, some of our data base of model sounds is inherited (sudden loud noises) and much is certainly learned (car horns perhaps) as our lives progress. Likely it is an advantage to consider dangerous possibilities immediately (a growl of a tiger outside the cave entrance, as opposed to a growl of one’s own stomach). Sooner or later, logic and experience come into play. A humming/droning sound may strongly resemble a diesel engine, and on first impression, (and probably generally, subsequently) we spontaneously, provisionally, categorize it as something external (all such engines being outside our body by our experience). But when we are unable to locate the machine down the block, or when we observe that the sound interrupts for half a second each and every time we vigorously shake our heads, we logically suppose something internal is generating the supposed perception. However, at least for me, the INITIAL impression that it is something “out by the road” remains even after two decades!

      – Bernie

    • simon lovat says:

      hi lisa, where in scotland as i live here and have all the same problems ?

      • Lisa M. Allen says:

        Hi Simon,

        We were in Edinburgh, Stirling, St. Andrews and Portree, Skye. I heard it very faintly in Skye, and Stirling. I may have heard it faintly in Edinburgh too. But it’s much louder at home. Right now I’m in New York City and I don’t hear it at all, and no other noise either in our hotel room. Where in Scotland do you live?


      • J.O. says:

        Lisa, how many days have you been in NY? How many remaining? Please keep us posted on if you begin hearing it on your trip.

      • Lisa M. Allen says:

        J.O., we got here Friday around noon and we’re leaving Wednesday, so we’re here for a total of five nights. When we arrived in our hotel room I couldn’t believe how quiet it was. I thought maybe the flying effect was making me not hear the hum. But based on past experience, that would only last a day since it was such a short flight (less then 2 hours). It’s the most wonderful thing to be able to experience silence for all these days! And in New York of all places. Now I don’t understand how there can be an internal component since I don’t hear it at all here, but I wonder if that’s still possible? I don’t know. I’m not looking forward to going home – it’s like living inside of a bass drum.

      • simon lovat says:

        I have a very similar experience. I hear it in the highlands of Scotland, but not in London. strange

      • Lisa M. Allen at November 12, 2018 at 3:08 pm said in part: “. . . . . . . Now I don’t understand how there can be an internal component since I don’t hear it at all here . . . . . . .”

        SPECULATION: For some 20 years, noting the AGC (automatic gain control) nature of the head-shake interruptions, I have suspected the involvement of the protective muscles of the middle ear (hammer, anvil, stirrup). That is, the structure normally “clamps down” and stiffens in response to a sudden physical motion but rapidly relaxes (listening for that nasty tiger in the bushes). Suppose the Hum is the result of some partial failure of this protection. Of course air travel (cabin pressure reduced a couple of psi) is famously associated with often discomforting “activity” of the middle ear. So does “ear popping” constitute a good shake-up of the mechanism until air and fluids come back into balance (gumming things back up) after a few days? Objections?

  5. J.O. at October 31, 2018 at 3:10 pm said in part: “. . . . . . . I’ve done the “head-shake” and I don’t hear it while shaking, but there is no interruption when I stop shaking. . . . . . . .”

    J.O. It comes back very quickly when you stop shaking – that’s the point. The important observation is that it STOPS DURING SHAKING. I can only shake about 5-10 seconds before I tire. Then it comes back, not after a day, or a minute, or even after a full second – but after a mere half a second; and it RAMPS back up. This, for me, it discernable, and I have previously posted synthesized audio examples.


    Your hum may ramp up faster and thus seem virtually instantaneous.

    – Bernie

  6. Lisa Allen says:

    J.O., what kind of heat do you have in Colorado? I’m sure it’s not electric like we have here in South Carolina. That there is a consistent pattern three years in a row has to mean something. It’s the same here, but louder in the summer months, though I still can hear it now. I’m curious to see if I hear it on Christmas day because I didn’t for two years in a row. Just a couple of weeks ago I had the same experience of hearing the hum loudly even with the TV on – it’s nuts. Do you use a sound machine at night? I couldn’t sleep without one. That really helps, though in the summer when it’s ridiculously loud I can sometimes still hear the hum with two sound machines on.

    That’s interesting about the tel-vac company. I’ve have that experience too, and it’s always louder inside, seeming to come through the foundation, as you said. But I never had experiences like that before I started hearing the hum. Strange.

    Maybe I’m wrong but I think most of us hum hearers are hearing the same thing; our descriptions are way too similar. And I believe that’s true whether it’s internal, external, or a combination. I’m sure there are some that are hearing something else but I think they’re a small minority.

    That is a good point to remember about air travel interrupting the hum, for anyone flying to Minneapolis to go into the quiet room. I will keep that in mind.

    Bernie, thank you for that analysis. What you say makes sense, and I am contemplating that it may be internal. But it doesn’t sound like a human sound, and it gets so unbelievably loud in the summer, and it seems to follow consistent seasonal patterns – those are the things that make it difficult to be 100% convinced that it’s internal.

    • J.O. says:

      Our primary heat is “hot water”. We have a NG fired boiler that sends hot water through copper pipes. The pipes are in contact with little metal fins on wall registers that look just like electric wall heaters. (8″ tall by 6-10′ long depending on room size).
      I have not yet used a sound machine. Right at this time. I don’t experience it loud enough to need one and I usually am asleep 30 seconds after i turn out the light.
      And I find the absence of your Hum on Christmas day fascinating! What is different about that day? Very few people at work or otherwise out travelling around and many businesses are closed which reduces power draw for sure. Have you noticed this on Thanksgiving day as well? This one factor points more to external than internal causes so long as you haven’t changed anything in your environment that could account for the Hum’s absence on this one particular day. Have any other folks commented on not hearing the Hum on Christmas day? The holidays are fast approaching, i’ll for sure be paying attention so thanks for bringing that up!

      • Henrik says:

        Just a hint from my own experience: Christmas day and Good Friday are typically days when shopping malls, office buildings and certain other 24/7-type commercial establishments schedule their maintenance for elevators, heating systems, ventilation and air conditioning systems, and in that connection they shut off the mains power to the entire building for the safety of the workers. I would imagine that in the US Thanksgiving would be a similar slot. Factories, schools and similar institutions usually schedule these activities more randomly to the summer vacation or holiday season.

      • Lisa Allen says:


        Your home heating is interesting; I never heard of that but it’s got to be cheaper than oil or electricity, which is so expensive.

        I’m curious too to see if it will be quiet again this Christmas. Last year around Christmas I posted that it was very quiet and someone else posted that others have reported the same thing. Henrik’s explanation of why that would be makes sense and definitely points to an external cause or component at least. That’s one of the reasons it’s hard to believe it’s just internal. I’ll be in North Carolina on Thanksgiving but will pay attention to whether I heard it and/or how loud it is. Yes, we should all report whether or not we hear the hum on Thanksgiving (for U.S. hum hearers) and Christmas – that will be interesting!


        Thanks for that explanation – makes sense!

  7. Henrik says:

    Hi, Janet,

    Re your blog posting Nov 8 at 1:28 am: Yes, you are right on both accounts. Polarized RF waves can create small spots of increased intensity if a reflected wave and a direct wave happen to be in phase. But that effect is maximum 6dB, i.e. double amplitude and hence 4 times the power. This corresponds to small spots of intensity which have the energy/power corresponding to ½ of the distance.

    The pulsed characteristic of modern communication equipment is also true. The instantaneous pulses are more intensive, but correspondingly shorter in duration, so we have to dispute the basic assumption that biological effects are proportional to intensity x duration if we insist that this is relevant. I am neither competent nor motivated to speculate about things, for which there is no scientific evidence. Radar is an extreme – and thoroughly researched – case of pulsed EMF, but this is beside the point when looking for a worldwide hum phenomenon.

    The whole matter of “electro-sensitivity” is not yet scientifically proven. There are examples of numerous specific complaints about radiation symptoms from a newly built cell tower – before the station was even powered on! And in NO blind tests have the complainants been able to sense when a radiation source has actually been switched on or off. For further reading I recommend the WHO website. It contains tons of EMF research and reports from globally respected scientists, and separates facts from fiction.

  8. Lisa Allen says:

    Simon, yes, our experiences are very similar. New York and London are both very large cities and we both live in areas with a low population where we hear the hum. I think it must be significant in some way, but I don’t understand how. For me, there was absolutely no ambient noise in the hotel room that could have been blocking the hum. It was really one of the quietest hotel room’s I’ve ever been in.

    Bernie, I have a hard time believing that I didn’t hear the hum in New York City for five days because of a 1 hour and 40 minute flight. When I returned home from Scotland (a 7 hour flight), and also another time from Seattle (a 6 hour flight) the hum came back within 2 days. So if the lack of the hum in NY was not due to the flight (which I don’t think it was), then either it is not internal, or, if the hum is caused by a combination of internal and external components, then with one of the components gone, the hum is gone too. And since the only thing that changed was my environment, the external component is what changed. So with the external component missing there was no hum. Therefore the hum has to have an external component to exist (assuming it’s not caused by the flight). Does that make sense? Are there other factors to consider?

  9. Lisa Allen says:

    Bernie, that is a good paper. Thanks for posting it. I understand that interruption of the hum by air travel is an indication that the hum is internal. All I’m saying is that I can’t help but note that for five days I didn’t hear any semblance of the hum in a particular environment (hotel in NY). Some may attribute that to air travel, but I can’t based on past experiences of the hum returning within a day or two of flying. Back home in South Carolina, I started hearing the beginnings of the hum the day after I returned. As I’ve said before, I believe there is an environmental factor that with the internal factor creates the hum. I could be wrong, but for now that makes the most sense to me based on my experiences.

    • J.O. says:

      Hey Lisa,
      I was away last week so missed much of this. I’ll check on the oximeter. After your Nueva York trip, and if others have similar experiences, I think cell phones could be ruled out. NY has got to have millions of them!
      Do you live rural or semi-rural Lisa? We do and I never heard the Hum before moving to this house in 2014.

  10. Lisa Allen says:

    J.O., Do you have an oximeter? That’s the little gizmo doctors and hospitals put on your finger to check your oxygen rate and pulse. If not, I would suggest buying one at the pharmacy – they aren’t expensive. Today I tried to take a nap, unsuccessfully, because the hum was so loud. The noise seemingly coming from the pillow sounded like water pulsating through a lead pipe under the ground. It was loud and had an echo and sounded like it was under the ground. I got up and got my oximeter and put it on my finger, and the line that moves to the rhythm of your pulse was moving in rhythm to the hum. So that loud, inhuman sounding noise was coming from inside of me. Why it sounds the way it does, and why it’s so loud even when I’m up and about and can’t be masked by ambient noise at times, I don’t know. But that little device will show without any doubt if the hum you’re hearing, when it’s pulsing, is internal. I still believe there’s more to the whole thing but that is a good start.

  11. Lisa Allen says:

    J.O., I agree with you about the cell phones. I thought about that while we were in NY, and we were less than a half a block from Times Square, the busiest and more congested area of the city. UNLESS there are other mitigating factors, but I don’t know what they would be. We’ve lived in this house since 2007, and I only started hearing the hum in about March of 2016. It is a coastal town in South Carolina, on the small side but growing fast as many northern retirees are moving down here to get away from the high taxes and cost of living in New York and New Jersey, and away from the cold weather. When we moved here there was hardly anything around us. Since then they’ve built a huge complex of shops and restaurants less than a mile away, several housing developments, a culinary institute a quarter mile from our house, three Walmarts within a couple of miles, and a medical center! I wonder if all of this extra growth has somehow contributed to the hum. But it is still more or less a “town” and not what I would even consider a small city, but it gets very crowded in the summer with all the tourists coming for the beach.

    Did you start hearing the hum as soon as you moved into your home in 2014, or did it take a while before you started to hear it? Has there been growth in your area as well?

  12. Lisa Allen says:

    I just read this article and wonder if our hum could be caused by some variation of this condition:


    • J.O. says:

      I don’t know about that, but we got our first winter snow here yesterday and in the middle of the night the Hum was like 15% louder than normal.

    • Lisa – thanks for the link to the paper on Semicircular Canal (SCC) Dehiscence. I confess it is beyond my abilities to understand.

      Frosch (see my link to his paper at Nov. 16 above) suggested associating the Hum (traditional, internal) with SCC mechanisms based largely on Hum interruptions with (horizontal) head rotations (like my head-shake tests) in his study. [We are familiar with SCCs and balance issues since we as kids spun around a dozen times and suddenly stopped, only to fall down dizzy!]

      Since “Hum interruptions” are also associated with speaking sharply, a short grunt, or just an energetic exhale, which do not involve horizontal head motion, or any significant head motions actually, the involvement with SCCs is perhaps counter-indicated.

      We need to consider also the middle-ear, particularly in view of the long-interruption of the Hum by air travel. (The SCCs are part of the inner-ear.)

      Just peeking in some corners here. – Bernie

  13. Lisa Allen says:

    Hi Bernie – I feel like I am committing a sacrilege by saying this, but I don’t find the head shake thing very compelling proof of anything, and less so a grunt or sharp exhale or speaking sharply, because they all create noise that can block the hum. Other things, to me, provide more proof that it is partly internal (ie, the oximeter matching the pulsing of the hum, or not being able to record it) but I personally wouldn’t label the hum as “traditional, internal” yet because there are still so many unanswered questions like, why is it silent in certain places? SCC (Semicirulcar Canal Dehiscence) may have nothing to do with the hum, but since that condition allows one to hear internal noises, I thought it was interesting. Not being a doctor or scientist I can’t really say much else about it. Does high pitched tinnitus change with the weather the way our hum does? If not, I wonder why? I don’t know if anyone else saw this, but on Jeopardy the other night there was a question about the Taos Hum! It was an easy question – they just wanted to know what state that was in.

    • Lisa –

      The “head shake” interruption, as diagnostic evidence, is part of a well-controlled experiment. In addition to observing that the Hum goes away during the relatively small time (perhaps 5 seconds), during which one can vigorously head-shake (short of fatigue), the Hum ramps back to full-on with a time-constant of about ½ second, immediately following the cessation of shaking, each and every such trial. The same is NOT true, ever, of a purposely presented external test sound; be that sound a radio, a (real) idling truck, or a carefully adjusted function generator matched in pitch and loudness to mimic the perceived Hum.

      What specifically do you dispute – the observation or the interpretation?

      * * * * * * * *

      My head-shaking, by the way, produces no significant sound to mask the Hum.

      I don’t know much about ordinary high-frequency tinnitus, except its nature of variable presentation. HF tinnitus comes from the liquid (virtually incompressible by atmospheric pressure) domain of the hair-cells of the inner ear; while the air domain of the middle ear is clearly susceptible to weather.

      It is well to maintain a separation: denying any necessary symmetry between HF and low-frequency (LF) tinnitus (used here as a descriptive for the Hum). Such a use of a common terminology may be useful in suggesting that both have (likely quite separate physical) internal sources. Further, it is POSSIBLE both HF and LF have a common MATHEMATICAL origin as edge pitches (high and low hearing band-edges) a la Fourier transform’s “uncertainty relationship”. No – this in no way invites quantum mechanics into a discussion of the Hum, although surely this would be a welcome event on some other sites!


  14. Lisa Allen says:

    Bernie – The head shake is supposed to prove that the hum is internal if you can’t hear it when shaking your head, right? Playing the devil’s advocate, when I shake my head vigorously and swallow, I can still hear the sound of swallowing, which is also an internal noise. I think if my stomach was grumbling I would hear that too while shaking my head. So if the head shake proposition and conclusion states that: “IF a noise is internal, THEN I won’t hear it while shaking my head; THEREFORE the hum is internal because I can’t hear it while shaking my head,” it can’t be true and doesn’t prove anything because other internal noises can be heard while shaking the head. And maybe, conversely, there are external noises, at a certain frequency and pitch, that we are unable to hear when shaking our head as well. I hear a very soft, high pitch noise in my ear right now. When I shake my head, I can still hear it, but I know it’s internal. According to the headshake theory I shouldn’t be able to hear it. Maybe I’m missing something but that’s how I understand the headshake theory. The hum is not an ordinary noise. We don’t know what it is. It changes with the weather and seasons unlike other internal noises. It completely disappears in some locations, like my recent experience in New York. That would not happen if the noise was strictly internal. I don’t think we can categorize it as being simply internal or external like other noises we know the origin of until we know more.

    • Lisa – goodness no! You are missing the point.

      You said that I was suggesting “. . . . . IF a noise is internal, THEN I won’t hear it while shaking my head;. . . . “

      What I suggest is that if the specific sensation (the Hum, as opposed to seemingly similar known perceptions) stops with a particular PERSONAL action (head-shake) then almost certainly it is an internally generated sensation that is INTERRUPTED, certainly not an external source (truck up the road) or an interruption of general hearing (the “controlled experiment”). Fig. 4 a,b,c here:


      The Hum is here postulated to be an internally-generated sound, most likely by some component (perhaps middle-ear) of the hearing mechanism. Shaking the head (and thus the ears) pauses the PRODUCTION of the sensation, NOT the HEARING of the sensation. Any other internally sourced sound, (in general, such as a gut-rumbling), is just another “external” sound as far as the EAR is concerned. Sorry if this was not clear.


      • Lisa Allen says:

        Ok, I got it. But if it paused the production of the sensation, it seems like it would stop the hearing of it too.

        If it works for most people, that’s fine, but it doesn’t really work for me. When I shake my head just a little from side to side, I can still hear the hum, but if I shake it vigorously all the way to the right and left there is too much noise so I wouldn’t hear the hum anyway. But that’s probably not true for most people I guess.

      • J.O. says:

        As far as the head shake goes, I find my personal experience to be more in line with Lisa’s than Bernie’s. I don’t hear any sound when shaking my head, but the disruption of the hum is only slight while shaking and certainly doesn’t stop for even 1 second let alone 5 after the shake.
        I also find Lisa’s arguments leaning towards external causes to match what I experience and she makes some valid observations. And here’s another one, why do almost all of us hear the hum better indoors? If the hum is internal, it should be there and present at all times.
        With that said, we certainly may be discussing two different hum phenomena.

  15. Lisa Allen at December 6, 2018 at 8:24 PM said:

    “ . . . . . Ok, I got it. But if it paused the production of the sensation, it seems like it would stop the hearing of it too. . . . . “

    It does that ! Of courses you would not hear a source (specifically, the Hum) that was turned off by the shaking. But you would (and do) hear other sounds (cars, children, radios) – the controlled experiment. It is the Hum (source) that is tuned off – not your hearing (receiver).

    * * * * * * * * *

    J.O. at December 7, 2018 at 9:35 AM said:

    “. . . . . I don’t hear any sound when shaking my head, but the disruption of the hum is only slight while shaking and certainly doesn’t stop for even 1 second let alone 5 after the shake. . . . . . “

    It is quite possible you are not a traditional Hum hearer which would mean the head-shake is not supposed to work. But I never said the Hum paused “after the shake” for 1 or 5 seconds. The 5 seconds was the maximum time I can sustain a vigorous shake before tiring. The Hum pauses completely during this 5 seconds. As soon as I stop shaking, the Hum RAMPS back up full in about ½ second – a very short but discernible and a robust observation.

    – Bernie

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: