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.
We’ve more than doubled the number of enhanced data points on the Hum Map and Database. Here is a direct link:http://thehum.info/newhum/#
Let me know if you see anything that warrants my attention.
I heard the Worldwide Hum roughly four days after I arrived in Russia. It wasn’t as clear and distinct as it here on the Sunshine Coast in BC. The city of St. Petersburg is dense and highly populated, home to more than five million people. So it didn’t surprise me that my nighttime window for hearing the Hum was smaller than in my small town on the West Coast of Canada. Presumably, the cacophony generated by such a densely populated and busy city would only subside for a few hours during the wee hours of the night. My apartment was on Ulitsa Pravdy, in the downtown core and just a few hundred meters away from the intersection of two big metro lines. The Metro (subway) system starts up early, comprises more than 1400 cars and almost 200 trains moving fast and deep – in one case almost 300 feet beneath street level. The road traffic is fast, intense, and high volume. There is a rich and high volume audio spectrum, down into the infrasonic.
And now the anticipated answer to the question: What perceived frequency did I hear?
I’m sorry but I can’t answer that accurately. I opened up the online tone generator several times, but I couldn’t get a good match like I can here. I am quite confident that it is the same general range (i.e. low 50s Hz to mid-60s Hz).
I know this is disappointing because had I been able to get a good frequency match, it could have sorted out one issue: the electric grid. Russia has a 50 Hz grid, unlike North America, which uses 60 Hz. A difference in perceived Hum tone would have been significant and possibly diagnostic. Had I heard a different frequency, it could have also lent weight to the theory that the Hum is a conglomeration of noise, with each location having unique sonic characteristics, interpreted individually by people’s auditory systems.
Anyway, it’s great to be back.
This facility is apparently open for tourists. I would very much like a Hum hearer to go inside for a little while and tell me what they experienced.
The Beta versions of the new World Hum Map and Research Tool are located at http://thehum.info/newhum/
A quick video tutorial is found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObQD6GSGYME&feature=youtu.be
One major change that will generate discussion is the elimination of more than half the data points from the previous map (the ones now in red). The conspiracy crowd might go wild over this, and some other people will feel disappointed if not invalidated. I made this decision myself, after months of deliberation and only when the time was right. When I started the Hum Map and Database Project, my initial concern was getting points on the map and spreading awareness about the project. Very early on I even imported points en masse from a few other open-source Hum mapping projects. As time passed, media attention gathered and so did the information posted by Hum hearers. As we learned more about the Worldwide Hum, it became clear that a good number of the data points on the Hum Map did not meet the basic criteria for inclusion. I fully believe the people who report that they hear an unexplained low-frequency noise, but if they have invested little or no effort in tracking down the source of the noise, their report shouldn’t be on the Map (yet). Likewise, if the sound is louder during the day than at night, it is almost certainly the result of daytime industrial and commercial activity. Moreover, if the sound is louder outdoors than indoors, then almost certainly we are not dealing with the Hum. So I eliminated all the points that did not meet these basic criteria. That left about 7600 of the original data points. I admit that I am probably eliminating some valid data by doing this, but the benefit is that we now have a much more valid and rigorous data set.
The second major change is the inclusion of the new and detailed data points (they are in blue). They offer rich detail from Hum hearers, including enhanced information about medication use, family histories of certain conditions, dietary questions, and so on. About 600 points from this set were selected for inclusion on the map.
The third and crucial change is the research search interface, done by Jason Lewis, building upon Derek Edder’s template. Finally, researchers can test their hypothesis against either dataset (or both), looking for correlations that might lead us forward. Please let me know if you encounter any difficulties using it.
The video tutorial will be available shortly.
“When volunteers have poor productivity, double their pay”, goes a sarcastic one-liner. More seriously, when we switched to the new and enhanced survey form, I faced the considerable challenge of showing the new data points – and the existing ones – on the same Google Fusion Table map. That challenge has been overcome by three young programmers from the small town of Gibsons, BC, Canada, and at my first opportunity, I will present the new Hum Map along with the excellent research search tool written by the young men. I am proud of their work.
So, patience; it is on the way.