A Bad Start to 2019

One of the main goals of this project is to raise awareness of the Worldwide Hum and to make it the subject of serious medical and scientific inquiry. We’ve had some tangible successes in that direction, but we’ve also experienced a number of setbacks. Scanning the news headlines this morning, The National Post – one of Canada’s national newspapers – reports “A strange, low-intensity hum near Vancouver Island may help predict when the next killer earthquake will strike. “

This was obviously an exciting headline. The writer of the article is Joseph Brean. I’m not interested in the various controversies and conflicts he is involved in, but rather his science reporting. After reading a few paragraphs, I realized that his grasp of basic science is about as weak as we’ve come to expect from major media outlets. One notable and very welcome exception to this is Nicole Mortillaro of CBC, who is the editor of the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, among other accomplishments.

The research was reported in the journal Nature Geoscience. As interesting and potentially important as their study might be, it has absolutely nothing to do with the Worldwide Hum. This is roughly the same group of French researchers whose work was conflated with the Worldwide Hum in 2017. At the heart of the problem, again, is lazy translation. Check your favourite dictionary, and you’ll see that in every usage, the word “hum” refers to an audible sound. This is annoying because the French language has ample choices for expressing this or vibrations in general. The seismic vibrations reported by the researchers are far below the range of human hearing (both in frequency and power). There is no sound involved. Perhaps one of the researchers has basic English skills and was looking for a cute and catchy phrase that would appeal to lay readers.

Regular readers on this topic might say, “Wait a minute; didn’t you speculate that some sort of seismic or geological activity might be causing the Hum?”. Yes, I did, because there is some evidence from amateur British scientists who reported on audible events preceding earthquakes in England during the 1800s. But of course, that has nothing to do with the present French research, which makes no claims about audible sounds.

It is ironic that we have won some major battles against the lunacy and pseudoscience that used to be associated with the Hum, and now we work to undo the damage done by educated and serious people who are misreading and misinterpreting genuine science, on a different topic.


[UPDATED] I’ve found a primary source of the so-called “Sky Trumpets” noise. I inadvertently captured it on my phone in Russia (video)

UPDATE: I’ve heard this now in a number of places, including right near my condo when the big trucks are making their deliveries. It’s dismaying how easy this was to solve, and breathtaking how much massive media attention this has garnered. I’m calling this one solved, and I should probably move on from it.

Well, the word “found” is self-congratulatory – it was painfully easy to find with a few minutes of searching. What triggered this was that a few days ago I was being interviewed by a reporter who was curious about my thoughts on the so-called “sky trumpet” noises. I suddenly remembered that not only did I hear it myself, but I captured it on video (posted below). I had just arrived in Moscow, and I was at the Ismailovo Hotel complex (Beta Hotel). I was highly distracted (if not stressed) at the time because of a major paperwork problem (my apologies for the video – it is a private travel video and it caught me at a moment when I was in quite a predicament). At the time I made a mental note to comment on it later. In the video below, you can clearly hear it from about 0:03 through 0:10.

Sorry if I disappoint anyone, but it is a mechanical noise, caused by the brakes on large trucks travelling at lower speeds.  Large machinery, trains going around curves create similar sounds. Other mechanical sources can create similar sounds. This has been reported for years over the internet by professional mechanics and amateur enthusiasts alike. All the sensationalists and fabulists had to do was take 20 minutes and go find it. Here is a sample of the sound coming from a smaller truck. And here is another reference to the “blue whale” noise caused by malfunctioning brakes. This poster talks about a “dying whale” noise.  And another. And here. There are hundreds of references to it.

And of course, there may be other equally mundane causes of unusual noises, but the fundamental issue here is that tracking them down takes work and many people are in general lazy. So it’s the job of killjoys like me to dismantle the silliness. However, from what I now understand about psychology, education, sociology, and religion, there will always be a subset of people who will desperately and fiercely latch on to explanations that invoke the mysterious, the supernatural, and the conspiratorial. Some of them do this even when they should know better, such as the Science Education professor I knew at the University of Manitoba who believed in Velikovsky, or university graduates I know who believe the Earth is 6000 years old, and many other examples. As science continues to unveil how the universe works, these people don’t retreat, they simply bounce to the next magical and untestable claim, or the next exciting conspiracy.





The Updated Theoretical Logic Map for Investigating the Hum (from Henrik)

The earlier published logic map (Rev.7x) has been updated to Rev.8. See link below. The main change is, that the direct, or real-time, influence from electromagnetic fields has been discarded since no theoretical or empirical evidence has been found to support this possibility. Long-term electromagnetic radiation remains as a possible sensitizing factor together with many others. Additionally, some minor rewordings have been introduced.

This version still only represents Henrik’s thoughts on the subject, and does not constitute the official standpoint of the Project.

Click here for the Hum Logic Map

Two Important New Papers from Henrik

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.

Read Part One here.

Read Part Two here.

The Hum Map has been updated

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’ve returned from St. Petersburg, Russia. Here’s what I heard.

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.


A Simple and Crucial Experiment Awaits (Minneapolis Area)

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.

What is Causing the Hum? The Four Hypotheses.

Introducing the new World Hum Map and Research Tool

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.




Why is the Hum Map Update so Delayed?

“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.