Congress Investigates?

In brief, the “hum” appears to be a low frequency sound with a rhythmic pulse to it. Many of the people that have claimed to hear or suffer from this humming have apparently claimed that it sounds like a “far away diesel engine”. It’s named after the town of Taos in New Mexico where it is claimed that it is quite common to hear it.

In fact, it was so common that the good citizens and sufferers banded together in 1993 and petitioned the American Congress to investigate the source of this annoyance. 1n 1997 Congress did direct a dozen or more scientists and researchers from some of the most recognized institutions in the country to investigate. One reason for this was the allegation that the Taos Hum was possibly the result of military activity – covert or otherwise. A side effect of this allegation was that the inquiry was conducted openly and involved a large number of people.

Two key organizations were also involved namely the Phillips Air Force Laboratory and the Los Alamos National Laboratory (those fine people that brought you the Atom Bomb). Apparently a Mr. Joe Mullins of the University of New Mexico and Mr. Horace Poteet of Sandia National Laboratories wrote the team’s final report.

“According to the August 23, 1993 “Taos Hum Investigation: Informal Report”, most hearers initially experienced the hum with an “abrupt beginning, as if some device were switched on.” Many of the hearers believed there was a connection between the hum, the military installations in and around New Mexico, and the Department of Defense or that the hum was somehow caused by the U. S. Navy’s ELF (Extremely Low Frequency) stations in Northern Michigan. These suspicions made a civilian presence on the investigation team necessary.” (Source: Thomas Begich / Staff Writer

Recording the hum in Taos, New Mexico (SSPL)

Are You Hearing Things?

The research team first made contact with ten professed “hearers” and made efforts to understand the experiential nature of the Taos Hum. Their consistent initial findings were as follows:

  • It often had an abrupt beginning.
  • It was always a low barely audible sound
  • There was always a fluctuation in the pulse

One of the initial findings of the team was that the Taos Hum was not only an annoyance, its hearers also claimed it produced very unwanted side effects such as dizziness, insomnia or sleep disturbance, disorientation, pressure on the ears, headaches, loss of sex-drive and nosebleeds. Most importantly, its very existence seemed to disturb their psychological equilibrium. Many felt “singled out” by a phenomenon that was clearly “unnatural”.

The stated purpose of the team was to …

Once the team had come together (now including James Kelly a hearing research scientist with the University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center) it is understood that a fairly significant (quantitive) sample of the Taos population was interviewed – 1,440 is the figure recorded. Using the technique of extrapolation, they concluded that statistically 2% of the population of Taos were persistent sufferers or had heard the Taos Hum at some time.

Given this large number of hearers, initial exploration of a source for the hum focused on external possibilities for generation of the low frequency hum. While there were isolated instances of hearing within the low frequency range identified by hearers, these tests revealed no consistent background noise which could account for the hum. As Mullins and Kelly concluded, there were “no known acoustic signals that might account for the neither hum nor are there any seismic events that might explain it.”

The effect of being able to hear this hum can vary from being a mild irritation to a life disabling condition. Its effect is therefore very much like tinnitus – a persistent ringing in the ears that is a recognized medical complaint. “Hearers” of the “Hum” have been known to move halfway around the world to get away from it – something that travel can’t do to help tinnitus.

Taos Hum - New Mexico Houses
Taos Hum – New Mexico (SSPL)

These are the basic “facts” about the “Taos Hum” …

What’s peculiar about the notes in the Taos Hum is that they have no obvious source. Not earthquakes, not nuclear explosions, nothing. The vibrations triggered by cataclysmic events fade away to nothing, but the Hum continues, regardless. It may well be the echo of undetected seismic activity.

A Denver audiologist said that she had recorded a steady vibration of 17 cycles per second with a harmonic rising to 70 cycles per second near Taos. The low range of human hearing is 20 to 30 cycles per second.

Massey University professors Tom Moir and Fakhrul Alam from New Zealand have begun their research on “Unidentified Acoustic Phenomena”.

There may be no “Taos Hum” at all and the phenomenon is explained by an as yet unidentified but reasonably widespread medical complaint.

We admit that this is not the most exiting of mysteries. Still, if there really is a sub-audible worldwide humming then humankind should figure out what is causing it. Who knows -It might be dangerous.

Driving Miss Daisy – Crazy

Regardless of whether it really does or does not exist there are a significant number of people that firmly believe that the Taos Hum it is driving them crazy. One way or another – they deserve help. According to Daisy Fielding, She had hoped to set up a pottery business in Taos but the sound of the humming was so annoying that she gave up trying to live there and returned to San Francisco.

Taos Hum - Driving People Crazy
Taos Hum – Driving People Crazy (Hemera/WMC/Stephenson)

There is a substantial amount of information on the internet about the Taos Hum. If you are interested then Wikipedia is a good place to start. We wish we could have become more “into” this mystery but the Taos Hum just doesn’t work for us. Let’s face it – there’s just not much to work with. Let’s see … some people hear a strange humming. It’s driving them crazy. No one knows where it’s coming from. No one is even sure it’s real. Welcome to the Taos hum!