The mad and hectic pace of life, sometimes makes us all crave some peace and quiet. But then, as they say, too much of a good thing can actually be bad for you. That applies to silence, as it turns out people can’t stand to be in the world’s quietest place for too long. The longest a person has lasted in there is 45 minutes.
The place I’m talking about is a room at Orfield Laboratories in South Minneapolis. The room, also known as the ‘anechoic chamber’, is 99.99% sound absorbent. The double-insulated walls are made of steel and foot-thick concrete. Along the walls are also 3.3-foot thick fiberglass acoustic wedges that contribute to the ultra-quietness. The room holds the current Guinness World Record for being the quietest place on Earth. While it does seem like a dream come true, especially for those who live with kids or have stressful jobs, it’s actually not all that great. The room gets so silent that you can actually hear your internal organs at work. And after a while, the hallucinations begin.
Photo: Eckel Industries
The founder and president of Orfield Labs, Steven Orfield says that people are challenged to sit in the chamber with all the lights out. There was this one reporter who managed to stay in there for 45 minutes. Mr. Orfield himself can do it for 30 minutes, in spite of his mechanical heart valve that becomes very loud inside the room. “When it’s quiet, ears will adapt,” he says. “The quieter the room, the more things you hear. You’ll hear your heart beating; sometimes you can hear your lungs, hear your stomach gurgling loudly. In the anechoic chamber, you become the sound.”
Photo: Eckel Industries
The experience is so disorienting that it could drive a person mad. In fact, it is imperative that people sit down. Standing up and walking around is simply impossible. Because we orient ourselves through the sounds we hear when we walk, there are no cues to go by inside the chamber. “You take away the perceptual cues that allow you to balance and maneuver. If you’re in there for half an hour, you have to be in a chair,” Mr. Orfield says.
As bizarre as it seems, the anechoic chamber has plenty of uses. Several manufacturers test their products for noise, and see how they could be made quieter. For instance, the room was used to make Harley Davidson motorbikes much quieter, while retaining their trademark sound. Nasa uses it to put their astronauts through various tests. They are made to float in there in a water-filled container, to see how long it takes before hallucinations begin and whether they could work through it. Because believe it or not, outer space is just one big anechoic chamber – the silence out there is just too loud.
via Daily Mail