Simanaitis Says

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I CAME upon the Hum only recently while researching ”Sounds Like…” Maybe you’ve heard of the Hum, within the context of the Auckland Hum, Bristol Hum, Kokomo Hum, Taos Hum, Windsor Hum or any number of hums in other places around the world.

Not everyone can sense them, but some liken this low-frequency rumble to a diesel truck idling nearby. Others say it sounds like the Earth groaning. Sometimes the boom is loud enough to set off car alarms. People affected by it may suffer headaches, sleep deprivation or worse. The Bristol Hum in England is said to have driven at least three people to suicide.

Recognition of such unidentified rumble dates from the 1800s. Since the early 1970s, the phenomenon has increased and been reported in Canada, Denmark, England, Germany, Scotland, the U.S. and New Zealand.


Map of Hum prevalence in North America. Image from Science.Mic.

In his paper The Hum: An Anomalous Sound Heard Around the World, geosciences professor David Deming says, “The Hum is a mysterious and untraceable sound that is heard in certain locations around the world by two to ten percent of the population.”

Is the Hum a form of tinnitus, a ringing of the ears? Is it industrial noise pollution? Mass hysteria? Invasive electromagnetic radiation? Military communication gone amok? Or—ta dum!—is it extraterrestrial?

Let’s consider each of these.


Tinnitus, ringing of the ears. Image from

According to Deming, “Most physicians invariably diagnose the Hum as tinnitus because it is the only option known to medical science.” On the other hand, he notes, “Hum symptoms are distinctly different from classic tinnitus. Tinnitus is typically a high-frequency ringing sound—not a low-frequency rumble.”

What’s more, tinnitus would be expected to be distributed among a population regardless of location. By contrast, hums occur in specific geographical areas.

The Windsor Hum, for instance, is centered in this Ontario, Canada, city across from Detroit. In the Summary of the Windsor Hum Study Results, Dr. Colin Novak, University of Windsor, principal investigator, suggested that this hum is likely caused by industrial pollution. Specifically, a U.S. Steel blast furnace operating on Zug Island, on the U.S. side of the Detroit River, generates high levels of VLF (Very Low Frequency) vibrations.

Deming addresses the hypothesis of mass delusion by noting historical events, witch burning, for instance. Typically, believers gain social or psychological benefit. By contrast, those reporting the hum risk just the opposite: ridicule and social ostracism.

Plus, he cites an earlier researcher who observed, “…a hypothesis that explains everything in fact explains nothing.” That is, just as there are a multiplicity of hums, we might expect a multiplicity of sources.

Deming notes, “Previous studies have found that a subset of the population has an electromagnetic sensitivity that is significantly greater than the mean.” Among the electromagnetic hypotheses he considers are cellular telephone transmissions, LORAN (aircraft long-range radio navigation) and TACAMO (military aircraft-to-submarine communication using very low frequencies).


Electromagnetic radiation candidates. Image from

To Deming, cell phone communication proved an unlikely source for several reasons. Hum reports in Great Britain predated cell phone proliferation there.  Cell phone towers are concentrated in high-population urban areas, yet the highest hum concentrations are in small cities. Also, microwave radiation is easily shielded, whereas Deming’s findings suggested hum shielding had little success.

LORAN showed no correlation between its broadcast locations and hum reports. Kokomo, Indiana, for example, had well-documented hums in 2001 and 2002, yet the nearest LORAN facility is about 85 miles away. Terra Haute, Indiana, has a larger population than Kokomo and it’s only 25 miles from the LORAN site, yet it had no hum reports.

The evidence for TACAMO as a hum source is more compelling. TACAMO is an acronym for Take Charge and Move Out, a military philosophy for maintaining a line of command during nuclear attack.

The VLF band is used for submarine communications because these very low frequencies readily penetrate to great depths.

Deming notes, “TACAMO aircraft and associated VLF transmissions are in many ways coincident in time and space with Hum reports.” On the other hand, the U.S. Navy operates two stationary VLF broadcast stations, in Cutler, Maine, and Jim Creek, Washington. Deming observes that neither area is a hum hotbed.


Last, the whackadoos (my term, not Deming’s) say it’s an Extraterrestrial Hum. UFOs beam the signals our way to soften us up, no doubt for eventual alien invasion.

Whatever its source, if you’ve heard a hum in your area, you can report it to The World Hum Map and Data Base. Another site, with rather more extraterrestrial action, is The Hum. Last, there’s no lack of YouTube Hums; merely Google the term. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2015

One comment on “THE HUM

  1. Bill Urban
    February 25, 2015

    According to Tom Clancy it started when Captain Marko Ramius passed through Thor’s Twins with the caterpillar drive.

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