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The Hum Sounds: Theories And Affects

by Jim H

The Hum Phenomenon has been affecting a small group of people throughout the world. It’s a localized, persistent low-frequency rumble that has been a nuisance to residents everywhere from North America, Europe, and Oceania.

Commonly known as “The Hum Phenomenon”, it is also identified by where it originates, such as the Taos Hum, Bondi Hum or the Bristol Hum.  Not everybody can hear it, but the “hearers” remarkably describe the sound in the same way. It appears to resonate at the 56 Hz frequency range.

How it Affects

It doesn’t have a natural sound. In fact, it is reminiscent of a diesel engine running in the distance. The hearers claim that the sound intensifies if you’re indoors and the vibrations can be felt through the skin. To make matters worse, the continuous hum has caused the hearers to suffer from loss of sleep, dizziness, anxiety, irritability and in one circumstance, suicide.

hum phenomenon

Scientists Dr. Fakhrul Alam and Dr. Tom Moir record the hum in Auckland, NZ. Photo: Massey University

Some Sound Sources Identified

Although the hum is difficult to capture on audio, some of these mysterious hums have been identified. Volcanic activity causes the hum on the Big Island of Hawaii. The hum in Kokomo, Indiana traced the culprit to a DaimlerChrysler cooling tower fan emitting a 36 Hz tone and a Haynes International airport air compressor intake emitting a 10 Hz tone. But the other handful of worldwide hums remains a mystery.

The Norwegian Spiral: Crazy Theories in the Bizarre Mystery

In 1993, the hearers of Taos, New Mexico petitioned Congress to investigate this unusual and most famous of hums. Their strongest theory is that the sound comes from a United States Navy communication systems using ELF (Extremely Low Frequency) to communicate with submarines. In 1997, Congress directed a number of scientists from various respectable research institutes to look into this matter. However, efforts to locate the cause of this phenomenon were met with negative results.


  • Tinnitus has been ruled out simply due to the number of people who no longer hear it when they leave the localized area. Some individuals who have tinnitus and also hear the sound state the two sounds are qualitatively different.
  • Physics World, a monthly academic journal, attributed the Hum in Auckland, NZ to wind interacting with sand dunes.
  • Professor Rod Cross, Sydney University’s Dept of Physics, believes it may be from Earth’s hot interior gases and liquids making its way through cracks and cavities causing a pipe organ-like effect.
  • Others claim the sound is due to the ever-increasing amount of transmitters and electronic media that may be only be heard (or felt) by individuals with extremely sensitive hearing.

Other theories exist, some of which border on the extreme of possibilities.

The Taos Hum was aired on the television show Unsolved Mysteries and there is a mention of the Hum on the paranormal series The X-Files.

What Does the Hum Sound Like?

Computer Engineer Dr Tom Moir, Massey University’s Institute of Information and Mathematical Sciences, replicated the sound. Hear it below.

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