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Henrik, one of our “scientists in residence” has written a long-awaited paper on tracking down external environmental noise using very basic tools. I will feature prominently on this blog and on the Hum Map website for the near future. I hope that this paper will not only help create a purer dataset for our project but will aid people who are suffering from nuisance, low-frequency noise that arises from classic anthropogenic sources.
The paper is written in two parts.
I hope you find these useful. NOTE: the KML file is edited by me and drives the live and updated version of the Hum Map. The raw database file is unedited, and contains duplicate entries, spam, offensive writing, and oddball commentary.
Here is the KML: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9t3eeh6QDFGbnY5VllpLXZJRm8/view?usp=sharing
Here is the raw spreadsheet in Excel format: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B9t3eeh6QDFGeW5GUmEzRWhNVEE/view?usp=sharing
There have been many private investigations into the Hum. Most of these have not met rudimentary requirements for controlled scientific research. Indeed, numbers of people have taken a priori positions on the source of the Hum, and then directed their efforts to proving that they are correct in those assumptions, even in the face of obvious logical problems with their position. For example, there is a school of thought among hearers that cell phone towers are responsible for not only the Hum, but a sequela of other physical and medical symptoms. When asked how that explains why the Hum started in Britain in the 1970s when there was no widespread use of that technology, the subject is changed, or they retreat to a stubborn position that cherry picks evidence that fits the hypothesis. This generalizes across hypotheses, whether it be microwave towers, the LORAN navigation system, or high voltage electricity lines. Each of those carries logical flaws (Deming, 2004).
It is clear that some individuals performing their own research may be earnest but do not have a grasp of the basic science involved; for example, it is common to see writers who evidently do not understand the differences between sonic and electromagnetic energy, or that the word “frequency” can be used in several contexts. Others do not understand the concept of radio frequency (RF) skin depth, and because they cannot silence the Hum with foil shielding, they incorrectly assume that the source of the Hum cannot be electromagnetic radiation. Their speculations may be interesting, but they do not contribute to a useful research corpus. When scientifically literate individuals such as engineers, sound technicians, and so on, perform their own research, they are often overwhelmed with the multitude of independent variables that may be operating. Very few researchers anywhere in the world can draw upon journeyman or expert knowledge in: electromagnetism and radio theory, atmospheric theory including ionospheric heating and electron precipitation, bioacoustics, neuroscience, geology, and psychology. Therefore a team of experts is required. Such experts work for large universities who receive and give funding for research. As explained above, the Hum is not a priority at all, and therefore such a team of experts will never come together if they expect to get paid for their work.
An assistant and I are about to conduct a trial run of the type of data gathering that was done in Kokomo, Indiana. What makes Sechelt, BC interesting is that this is a retirement community. Given what is already known about the demographics of hearers, I wasn’t surprised to hear that an informal localized study suggested that more than 10 percent of households in a certain radius had somebody in the house who could hear it.
This study comprises two closely related parts. The first involves a third party not connected to the research being paid to hand-deliver roughly 200 letters labelled “Noise Survey” to homes in five clusters around the Sechelt area. Two of those clusters will be located further North on the Sunshine Coast Highway, in the communities of Halfmoon Bay and Madeira Park. The text of that letter is given below.
The second part of the study is to have Canada Post randomly insert 200 letters into mailboxes in the Sechelt Area. The inserts would be the same as those delivered to the houses. It will be interesting to see which method generates the greater participation rate.
In both cases, participants are directed to http://thehum.info and asked to enter their data on the web form. My guess is that participants will view the Hum map while they are there, which is part of a largely unspoken agenda that aims to generate a sense of community and ultimately media attention to the Hum phenomenon.
This research blog will announce the results.
————————————————— text of letter follows:
Dear Sunshine Coast Residents.
We are asking for your participation in a survey regarding noise disturbances in this area. For several years now, residents have periodically complained about a deep hum or low “rumbling” sound, something like a truck engine idling outside your home. The sound is often reported to be more noticeable at night, and louder inside the home than outside of it. Some people seem especially sensitive to the noise, whereas others have difficulty hearing it. Most commonly, it is heard by people 50 years of age and older.
Similar reports from other cities and other countries have led to speculation about the source of this type of noise – from high voltage power lines to communications systems to natural gas lines, to other types of industrial activity. By getting a clearer idea of how and where local residents are affected, we’ll have a better chance of locating the source of the disturbance.
The anonymous data gathered from this survey will form part of a larger study of this phenomenon. Your identity will be anonymous, but your data fully public at http://www.thehum.info.
If you could spare a few minutes, could you please enter your information on the web survey form located at
Thank you for your time.
Questions or comments can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org