Hearing The Hum?

An interesting item in Global News today caught my attention. In 2012, Glenn MacPherson, a teacher living in Gibsons, BC (a coastal community about 50 miles north of me and line-of-sight) began to hear a low level 'hum'. At first he thought it might be coming from local float plane activity but soon ruled that out. After Googling for any information about possible causes, he quickly learned that he was not the only one hearing ' the Hum' ... so he set up a website where people could report what they were hearing and found that it was a worldwide phenomenon.

Possible theories for what has been described as 'hum' and 'rumbling' range from VLF transmissions to submarines to 'nothing more than the grand accumulation of human activity' that could include noise from highways, marine traffic, mining, windmill farms, hydroelectric dams and other forms of industry."

MacPherson speculates that some people may indeed be sensitive to VLF frequencies.

When I say VLF, I’m not referring to sound,” MacPherson said. “That leads to another striking and startling conclusion, the fact that the Hum may not be a sound in the traditional sense. It may be the body’s reaction to a particular band of radio frequencies. That’s not an outrageous idea. The concept that the body can interpret certain electromagnetic frequencies as sound is reasonably well-established in research literature.

MacPherson has now built a large Faraday cage to follow up with his VLF theory.

So far, over 9000 reports of the mysterious Hum have been filed on MacPherson's website's database and plans to translate the site into Chinese will likely see that number soon rising.

Here on Mayne Island, it is very quiet and stepping outside on a winter night when there is no wind or no waves hitting the beach there is truly not a single thing to be heard, including the Hum. I do however, on warm summer evenings, often hear the rumblings coming from the Roberts Bank coal loading facility and container port, on the other side of Georgia Strait about 12 miles away.

Roberts Bank courtesy: http://www.vancouversun.com
I had thought that it might be coming via the seabed and into the rocky sandstone shoreline (the house foundation is built directly on sandstone and there is only a few feet of soil covering the rock along the shoreline) but this doesn't explain why it is not heard in the winter.

Perhaps you can hear the Hum as well and might like to report it or discuss possible sources with others.
Steve McDonald, VE7SL, is a regular contributor to AmateurRadio.com and writes from British Columbia, Canada. Contact him at [email protected].

3 Responses to “Hearing The Hum?”

  • David WB4ONA:

    If I drink too many Pink Gins I see Pink Elephants 😉

  • Barbyd32:

    This sounds logical to me because my head can hurt from ear to ear and it feels like it’s in response to the hum in my house! I have been diagnosed with EHS. I got rid of all cordless phones, I sit 14′ away if I watch T.V., I don’t do the baking and cooking I use to do, I don’t use wi-fi, I’ve shielded my computer the best I could, I refused a smart meter and now I have this terrible hum! I think I will have to buy a faraday cage to get any relief!

  • Antonio Gimeno (@agntui):

    Have you heard of triangulating the origin?
    Point 1:Mayne Island
    Point 2:Galiano Island, V0N 1P0 (from worldwide hum database)
    Point 3 : Port Washington
    Radius: 10 km (6.21 miles) typical distance under temperature inversion conditions.
    The answer is Long Harbor Ferry.
    And temperature inversion conditions that refract the sound path.

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