Infrasound: The Fear Frequency

Posted by on June 21, 2013 | Tags: , | 9 Comments
Infrasound and Elephants

Infrasound is sound below 20 Hz, lower than humans can perceive. But just because we don’t consciously hear it, that doesn’t mean we don’t respond to it; in certain individuals, low-frequency sound can induce feelings of fear or dread or even depression.

They may even be responsible for some ghost sightings, but we’ll get to that in a second.

What causes infrasound? Anything from earthquakes to meteors to ocean waves to fans to old, vibrating pipes in your attic. The occassional nuclear explosion, too (we actually use infrasound to detect them). Even certain animals produce infrasound to communicate with one another, like whales and elephants.

“Elephants, in particular, produce infrasound waves that travel through solid ground and are sensed by other herds using their feet, although they may be separated by hundreds of kilometres.”

Animals also react to infrasound. This may be one of the reasons they’re so quick to react when a natural disaster is looming, such as an earthquake.

In humans, infrasound can cause a number of strange, seemingly inexplicable effects: headaches, nausea, night terrors and sleep disorders. But low-frequency sound can do even more than that.

Infrasound and Ghosts

If infrasound hits at just the right strength and frequency, it can resonate with human eyes, causing them to vibrate. This can lead to distorted vision and the possibility of “ghost” sightings. Or, at least, what some would call ghost sightings. Infrasound may also cause a person to “feel” that there’s an entity in the room with him or her, accompanied by that aforementioned sense of dread.

This bizarre phenomenon has been documented on multiple occasions. For example, one night while working at a “haunted” laboratory, Vic Tandy of Coventry University experienced feelings of anxiety, and even witnessed a dark “blob” out of the corner of his eye. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up. But when he turned to face the strange figure, he found nothing there.

The next day, Tandy saw the dark figure again, and he also noticed that the fencing foil he was working with — clamped to a vice — was inexplicably vibrating. So he decided to investigate.

As it turned out, there was a silent fan in the laboratory. The fan was giving off low-frequency sound waves at 18.98 Hz, right around the resonant frequency of the human eye. It had also created a standing wave in one area of the room, which is what caused the foil to vibrate.

According to Tandy, “When we finally switched it off, it was as if a huge weight was lifted.”

The strange vibrations, optical illusions, and depressed feelings were due to infrasound, and had given the laboratory the reputation of being haunted. But it was all because of a vibrating fan.

Anyway, is infrasound an explanation for all ghosts sightings and supernatural activity? Of course not. The infrasound connection is ultimately just a theory. But if you ask me, the fact that low-frequency sound can affect humans in various ways is extraordinary in and of itself.

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Post by Rob Schwarz Rob Schwarz

Rob is a writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. He manages Stranger Dimensions in between changing aquarium filters and reading bad novels about mermaids.

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9 Replies to “Infrasound: The Fear Frequency”

  1. Thanks, Rob. Interesting article. I’ve definitely become irritated around wind turbines and have experienced waking immediately prior to earthquakes (P waves I suspect).

  2. Thanks and linked to so much more!
    Crop circles produce geometric forms, the higher frequency, the more complex.
    Could this explain the sudden ‘advance’ humans made around 50,000 BC?
    The cave art as advanced as our own?
    But with a down side as well, decreasing left brain function at the expense of right brain art and emotion?

  3. I was just reading a book, Strange Contagion by Lee Daniel Kravetz, where he dismisses complaints about wind turbines. But it does make one wonder what we don’t yet understand about how not easily observed factors can have significant influence over us. Human senses are severely limited and so we are largely unaware of the world around us, even when it is causing us harm. The human senses can’t detect tiny parasites, toxins, climate change, etc. And the human tendency is to deny the unknown, even when it is obvious something is going on.

    This article reminds me of Fortean observations. It’s been noted by a number of paranormal and UFO researchers, such as John Keel, that various odd experiences tend to happen in the same places. UFOs tend to be sighted in the same repeated locations and often at those same locations there will be bigfoot sightings and other unusual happenings. Jacques Vallee also noted that the certain Fortean incidents tend to follow the same pattern, such as UFO abductions matching the folktales of fairy abductions and the anthropological literature on shamanistic initiations.

    Or consider what sometimes are called fairy lights. No one knows what causes them, but even scientists have observed them. There are many sites that are specifically known for their fairly lights. My oldest brother went to one of those places and indeed he saw the same thing that thousands of others had seen. The weird thing about these balls of light is it is hard to discern exactly where they are in terms of distance from you, going from seeming close to seeming far. It’s possible that there is nothing actually there and instead it is some frequency affecting the brain.

    Maybe many diverse human experiences have common causes. We simply haven’t yet figured them out yet. But improved research methods might allow us to look more closely at typically ignored and previously unknown factors.

  4. Dear Rob,

    I found your article really interesting. I suspect we are suffering low frequency sound effects & are suffering physically from it now ie we both suddenly have hyperacusis & cataracts! Is there any chance you could kindly email me so I can get some advice from you please? Hope you can. Kind Regards Katrina

  5. I often wonder if the increase in depression and stress in the modern world in general isn’t caused in a small part by noise pollution of this kind. It is hard to find a place where we are NOT bombarded by these kinds of sounds. And if the incredible lightness we feel when we escape to natural places isn’t because we’ve taken ourselves away from that constant “dread” drone?

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