Back in August of 2011, a video appeared on YouTube that alleged to have captured some strange sounds happening over Kiev, Ukraine.
The noises are almost hornlike, and to be honest, could be caused by a lot of perfectly mundane activities, but their volume and unplaceable origin were enough to capture folks’ imaginations.
Kiev wasn’t the first example of so-called “sky trumpets” to be captured in the last few years -- people have been reporting these sounds all over the world since 2011 at least -- but it is one of the better quality ones. And, being mysteries, these weirdo sounds continue to draw attention.
In August of this year, a similar sound was recorded by a woman in British Columbia, who asserts that she and her son were woken up (and pretty terrified) by it.
And lest you think these sounds are only happening in cities, here’s one from some dudes in the woods of Alberta:
AND lest you think this is being heard only by individual crackpots, check out this news report including testimonials from several of the fine residents of Saskatchewan, who heard a similar event in January of 2012:
It’s also not just CANADIANS. This video was captured in Allen, Texas, also in January of 2012:
PREDICTABLY, these videos have been met with a different kind of cacophony -- one of different interpretations, from people sneering at their suspected fakery to religious types prophesying the end of the world. Indeed, the fact that they’re even being called “sky trumpets” in some places evokes the whole Seven Trumpets bit in everyone’s favorite Biblical acid trip, the Book of Revelation.
(Of course, the Seven Trumpets of the Bible are SUPPOSED to be accompanied by stuff like the sun going dark and the oceans turning to blood, which hasn’t transpired, but logic is rarely an obstacle doomsday believers bother to consider.)
Various experts (and non-experts) have offered rational explanations for these sounds -- in the case of the British Columbia video, a local official has stated that the sound was coming from a city official grinding down a blade on a piece of equipment. Other sounds have been explained as electromagnetic interference from radio signals, or even from the planet’s aurora, given that many have occurred at higher latitudes. Some have even suggested the sounds may be related to earthquakes, or, even more specifically and ominously, fracking operations.
There’s something about an unfamiliar sound with an unknown source that is particularly creepy to me. I expect it’s the invisibility of it, the idea that something is present -- ostensibly something large and menacing -- that I can’t see.
But what fascinates me about this particular “sky trumpets” idea is that many of the sounds are NOT particularly out of the ordinary in heavily populated environments. However, the instant someone records one, puts it on YouTube, and calls it “terrifying” and “mysterious,” our imaginations take over, to the extent that hearing a garbage truck in my neighborhood whine loudly as it strains to compact its load suddenly has me imagining otherworldly origins -- all for a sound that I have heard many times before.
That said, let’s not underestimate the power of sound -- even the most subtle, mundane sounds -- to drive people to the edge of despair.
“The Hum” is a far more mysterious and creepy phenomenon, and although it’s been confused with these horn-like sounds in more recent media coverage, it seems to be a very different animal.
The Hum was first reported in the UK in the 1950s, and in the decades since has turned up in several areas around the world. People who hear it describe it as a droning, continuous low-frequency sound, similar to an idling engine.
"It's a kind of torture, sometimes you just want to scream," exclaims retired head teacher Katie Jacques. [...] "It has a rhythm to it - it goes up and down. It sounds almost like a diesel car idling in the distance and you want to go and ask somebody to switch the engine off - and you can't."Katie says she no longer has any quiet moments and getting a good night's sleep has become impossible."It's worst at night. It's hard to get off to sleep because I hear this throbbing sound in the background and you know what it's like when you can't get to sleep and you're tossing and turning and you get more and more agitated about it."
This oddity drew attention in the US in 1991, when residents of Taos, New Mexico began complaining of the sound as well, and the reports were reliable enough to inspire multiple investigations. Scientists from the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of New Mexico have studied possible explanations and tried to locate a source, but have failed to do so.
One of the more curious aspects of this particular mystery is that the sound is evidently only audible to about 2 percent of people living in the hum-afflicted area, and most of those people are over the age of 55.
The obvious explanation is that this is a case of a bunch of people suffering from perfectly normal age-related tinnitus -- except many of the affected pass hearing exams with no problems, and the complaints have apparently been sufficiently troublesome to inspire scientific investigations in several places, with mixed results. For example, a hum in Kokomo, Indiana, was put down to industrial activity nearby, although sufferers still claim to hear it.
Windsor, Ontario, is another Hum hotspot. Researchers from the University of Windsor and Western University in London, Ontario, were recently given a grant to analyze the Windsor Hum and determine its cause.Researchers also have been investigating the Hum in Bondi, a seaside area of Sydney, Australia, for several years, to no avail. "It sends people around here crazy — all you can do is put music on to block it out. Some people leave fans on," one resident told the Daily Telegraph.[...] Most researchers investigating the Hum express some confidence that the phenomenon is real, and not the result of mass hysteria or hearers' hypochondria (or extraterrestrials beaming signals to Earth from their spaceships).
So what is it? NOBODY KNOWS, seriously. While the sound is reported as similar wherever it’s heard, there does not seem to be any clear common denominator that would explain it. Even more creepily, it really does seem to be related to specific locations, which kills the "tinnitus" explanation. Theories about underground gas lines, electrical wires, seismic activity, and electromagnetic radiation -- not to mention more out-there ideas about secret military sound-weapons testing and experiments being carried out on an oblivious public -- have been offered but solutions have not been forthcoming.
Maybe it’s an alien ship thrumming away deep underground after a crash hundreds of years ago, as some Taos Hum believers suggest, or maybe it’s the sound of the supervolcano under Yellowstone gearing up to explode and destroy the continental United States in a cataclysm of lava, ash and poisonous gas. Whatever it is, speaking as a person who is deeply irritated by my neighbor’s subwoofer on a near-daily basis, the folks who hear it have my sympathy.
So what do you all think of these creepy and mysteeeerious sounds? Perfectly normal noises of a busy world, or harbingers of our impending doom? Give me your theories -- or your disgusted dismissals -- in comments.