The Strange and Abnormal: What is the Hum?

Ava Ferrigno, Features Editor

There is a noise that has been plaguing people worldwide since the early 19th century, which causes nausea, nosebleeds, and has led to at least three suicides. Only 2 percent of the population in the noise-prone areas can hear what is called the Hum.

Those affected claim that they started hearing the Hum abruptly, with no past issues regarding their auditory perception. It is heard in specific locations, normally indoors, and at specific times. Ear plugs are of no help in blocking the low buzzing.

Katie Jacques from Leeds, England describes it as “a kind of torture” and believes, as other Hum sufferers and researchers, that it has a physical source. Some medical experts tend to brush off the Hum as a form of tinnitus, which is when a person hears a nonexistent sound. However, this physiological cause fails to explain why the buzzing is heard at particular places.

In certain areas that heavily experience the Hum, teams of investigators have tried to locate said source. The majority of these investigations were terminated after their failure to find an origin. In other cases, such as in Kokomo, Indiana, a mechanical “source” was found and corrected, yet people still complained about the humming.

After numerous unsuccessful investigations, teams of researchers sought out other physical causes, which have led most to settle on the idea that the low-frequency sounds from waves on the seafloor are causing the worldwide distress. Such currents produce seismic waves, which can only be heard by a small amount of the population. After testing, it has been discovered that people who are sensitive to the Hum are also affected by seismic instruments.

Unfortunately, this sea wave theory fails to explain why the Hum is only experienced in specific locations that are not necessarily on the coast, and why it is experienced at different times and lengths depending on the person.

Although very few believe the Hum is sinister in origin, the impacts on the population can be severe. Hopefully, a definitive source will be found. As long as the Hum remains a mystery, people will continue to suffer.