The Mystery Hums

Several reports are arising of people hearing a strange deep noise, the source of which remains a mystery still as of today. So what are these mysterious sounds referred to as “Hums” by the public? Let us go step by step into understanding this strange phenomenon in this article.


Mysterious Hums

Mysterious Hums (Image credit: sinnawin / 123RF Stock Photo)

A “Hum” is a low frequency, sort of a buzzing sound which is quite persistent. This sound is not audible to every person in the path of the wave. When the sound reaches us it seems to surround us which makes the task of detecting its source nearly impossible. Microphones can detect only sounds of a certain frequency range. The microphones required to detect these low frequency hums require an extremely sensitive microphone with an additional job of cancelling out the other low frequency sounds produced in nature such as the sounds made by insects, ocean waves, trees, and electricity cables. Here is  recording of one such mysterious hum:


Particular types of “Hums” are heard all around the world. There have been reports of these sounds driving people to insanity, depression, headaches, nausea, insomnia, etc. The hums are witnessed more in less populous areas than big cities or crowded areas. Studies conducted in one of the most famous areas of this occurrence in Taos, New Mexico shows that only 2% – 5% of the entire population can hear the Hum where the people with ages between 50 and 60 were more sensitive towards the hum. A study conducted by Doctor David Baguley, head of audiology at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge showed that the hums witnessed by the people arises 67% of time because of the people being too focused on the mild background sounds. He stated that the more the people concentrated on the noise, the more the body responds by amplifying the sound causing more distress and discomfort.


The hums are named by prefixing the area’s name with “hum”. Some of the most famous hums which made it to the media and research interest are

  • The “Bristol Hum”, England 1960s
  • The “Largs Hum”, Scotland 1970s
  • The “Taos Hum”, New Mexico, USA 1990s
  • Vancouver Hum, Canada 2004
  • The Auckland Hum, New Zeeland
  • The Bondi Hum, Australia 2009
  • Woodland, England 2011


Many more places have received reports of witnessing hums but never made it to the interest of the media. Let us look into the “Taos Hum”, which probably the most well-known of the hum phenomenon giving it the privilege of featuring in the popular TV show, Unsolved Mysteries alongside the “Bristol Hum”.


The “Taos Hum”, New Mexico USA

In 1993, the humming sound heard by the natives of Taos became so serious that the citizens joined together to submit a request to the government to conduct an investigation on this sound which was causing a large scale public annoyance. The investigation didn’t result in any conclusive reports as to what caused the low pitched sound that the citizens could hear.


Description by the Citizens:

The investigation team consisted of 12 professionals from some of the elite institutes across the nation with the key lead in the investigation carried out by the University of New Mexico. Initially they wanted to question the witnesses on the description of the sound: frequency, timings, nature and how many people from the total population could hear the sound. Most people who have witnessed the sound say that the hum begins suddenly. It caused interference while sleeping and never lessened in magnitude. The part that bothered them the most was that it was more noticeable inside their houses rather than outside where the other noises were more prominent. The native of Taos were the first to describe the hum to be like that of a distant idling of a diesel engine car.


After conducting the investigations the researchers established that something strange was happening in that region but could not define it using the orthodox scientific definitions to provide a solid proof. One of the theories that emerged from this investigation by Nick Begich was that the sound was a result of electromagnetic build up in the region. After it emerged in New Mexico, people from the USA also started to notice the Hum in many regions like Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Indiana and many more places.


Interesting fact: The Hums heard in Kokomo, Indiana were in fact isolated to have originated from machine parts in a factory located in the area (a compressor and a cooling fan). In spite of switching off the equipment, the hum still persisted among the citizens ruling out the influence of mechanical devices.


Similar Hums heard in Europe and Australasia

Many counties like Bristol, Durham, Sussex etc. in England have witnessed their fair share of Hums throughout. In fact the first reported hum was found to be in Bristol, England somewhere around the 1960s. In recent times Australia and New Zeeland have entered the list with Bondi and Auckland receiving numerous witness accounts.


Doctor Tom Moir, a computer engineer at Massey University’s Institute of Information technology and Mathematical Science, made a recording of the Auckland Hum in a home in Glenfield suburb on November 15th, 2006. People who can hear the noise have confirmed that it is a genuine recording of the hum. Doctor Tom had carried out his search to record the hum with the help of his student who could also hear the sound. He along with his colleague pinpointed the sound to be an acoustical sound having a 56 Hzfrequency which is suspiciously close to the 50 Hz, 240 volts power supply provided to the New Zeeland homes. In spite of the sound falling in the Human audible range of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz very few people could actually notice such an acute sound among the other disturbances. After figuring out the hum, Doctor Tom believes that the next step would be to triangulate the source which would indeed require much more man force and new technology. Professor Rod Cross of University of Sydney, Department of Physics stated that the sound that was found in Auckland could be from the resonance of the Sand Dunes or the release of hot gases from the Earth’s crust resulting in an Organ Pipe like effect.


Dr. Tom Moir

Dr. Tom Moir (right) along with his colleague Dr.Fakhrul Alam (left) with highly sensitive digital recording equipment (Photo Courtesy: Massey university)

Probable Causes

When people don’t find the answers to their problem, they start to put forth theories which could explain the origin of these mysterious Hums. One of the theories that many people believe that the capability of people to hear such a sound is actually a neuro-auditory disorder called Tinnitus which causes a disturbance in the auditory system. Although it explains why some people could hear the hum more by isolating outside noise (like staying indoors or sound proofing their homes), it does not explain why the hum exists only in certain geographical areas. Another explanation was “Spontaneous Otoacoustic Emissions”. The Human ear can generate its own noises sometimes and only 30% of the people can hear this. This phenomenon produces the same sound in the ears of all age groups therefore could not explain why only the older people can hear the hum. Other common theories include some more straight forward explanations like colliding waves, and the sound produced by mechanical devices.


Many out of the ordinary explanations like the influence of UFOs and that ghosts which are theorized to be weak electromagnetic pulses can generate the low frequency hums. The Hum has remained a phenomenon for over 40 years and many people believe that it will remain so for many more years to come until man could finally figure out the deep secrets of Nature.