Let’s face it, every day we are faced with a constant barrage of noise. Whether it’s car stereos, other people’s mobiles, radios, overheard conversations or traffic it’s always there.
In your home there’s ticking clocks, creaking pipes, gurgling fridges, humming electronics; in the country there’s noisy animals, aeroplanes, walkers and cyclists to spoil your peace.
Trains often seem especially noisy. Maybe it feels worse because there’s no escape. Unless you hide in the toilet. Some people just talk very loud, maybe to the audience that is trying hard not to listen. Others have very leaky headphones and it shouldn’t have to get to the point of deafening yourself to only just be able to hear your own music.
So you’d think that the quietest room in the world would be the most calming place to be. Not so. A quiet room typically measures about 30 decibels. The anechoic chamber at Orfield Laboratories in south Minneapolis measures -9 decibels. Bear in mind it’s a logarithmic scale so that’s about 1000 times quieter. The Guinness book of records recognises it as the quietest room in the world, although there are claims that quieter rooms have been measured.
The room is heavily insulated so that no sound can get in. It is also constructed so that no sound is reflected, it is all absorbed. This makes it so quiet you can hear your own organs. Sounds peaceful, but there’s a problem. It’s a strange experience, many walk straight out. It’s so disorientating you’ll need to sit down. No one has lasted more than 45 minutes. In the dark after only 15 minutes you tend to have psychosis-like experiences.
So if you do find a bit of peace from time to time be thankful. And if you start hallucinating then maybe you’ve overdone it and it’s time to move somewhere more noisy.