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Science

Haunted Houses Explained: Infrasound 558

anagama writes "For anyone who cringes whenever accosted by topics such as psychics, haunted houses, or any sort of new age drivel; for anyone who thinks James Randi is cool or has an active subscription to the Skeptical Inquirer - you're gonna love this story about infrasound. Here's a quote: "British scientists have shown in a controlled experiment that the extreme bass sound known as infrasound produces a range of bizarre effects in people including anxiety, extreme sorrow and chills -- supporting popular suggestions of a link between infrasound and strange sensations. ... Some scientists have suggested that this level of sound may be present at some allegedly haunted sites and so cause people to have odd sensations that they attribute to a ghost -- our findings support these ideas.""
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Haunted Houses Explained: Infrasound

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  • by swordboy ( 472941 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:01AM (#6898527) Journal
    Does infrasound include the "brown note", by chance? If so, then I think that they might be on to something. I'm always shitting myself...
  • yeah (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tirel ( 692085 )
    I saw this on discovery channel, they even demonstrated it with a guy who was next to a fan (22hz) and saw a "ghost". ... like 3 years ago.

    Yet, on slashdot, this is breaking news.
    • Re:yeah (Score:3, Interesting)

      by arivanov ( 12034 )
      What they have missed is that this has some serious WMD use and have been investigated by the Pentagon, the Soviets and Chinese for a while (15 years+ since the first time I heard about it) now. Thankfully none of them have figured how to use it as a weapon. It decays too fast with distance and is hard to make sufficiently directed.

      60db infrasound at around 6.9-7.1 Hz is capable of driving a human insane or even killing him within a few minutes.

      Imagine someone unleashing this on a crowd in peak hour.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        "60db infrasound at around 6.9-7.1 Hz is capable of driving a human insane or even killing him within a few minutes."

        I find this hard to believe... do you have a reference or link?
      • Re:yeah (Score:3, Informative)

        by GigsVT ( 208848 )
        I guess all those trains should have killed me by now, since I work right next to tracks. There's regularly low frequency pressure waves at huge amplitudes going through me.

        I think you seriously overestimate the potential for damage that this represents. It's mostly just annoying, not fatal. I'd think the pressure levels that are fatal are ones that cause physical damage, like the ones caused by an explosion.
      • Re:yeah (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Interestingly enough, when I was about ten years old, I read a series of books called The Three Investigators. The first book in the series was about a spooky old castle, and the kids investigating it would have feelings of terror while inside the building, but not outside it. This was eventually explained that sound waves that are too low to be heard can cause this sort of thing.

        Second, back in the day, an old Borland C++ compiler had as an example of sound, a short program with a rather interesting comme
    • ...bizarre effects in people including anxiety, extreme sorrow and chills....

      So what you're saying is, there is an HTML sound tag always playing infrasound in the background on /.?

  • Not really news... (Score:5, Informative)

    by cspenn ( 689387 ) <financialaidpodcast@@@gmail...com> on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:02AM (#6898534) Homepage Journal
    There have been news articles about infrasound and ELF sound experiments since the Cold War began. Both the US and Soviet scientists experimented extensivel y with infrasound as a weapon, and found that it was effective against troops, except for that one annoying minor problem - it affected both sides equally.

    http://www.borderlands.com/archives/arch/gavreaus. htm [borderlands.com]
    • by Tirel ( 692085 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:05AM (#6898549)
      wrong, the US army developed directed (as opposed to omnidirectional) sonic weapons a long time ago, they're considering using it for crown control now, but it still has some problems (like, making a bloody mess of your internal organs etc)
    • Reminds me of the Monty Python funniest joke ever sketch [jumpstation.ca] where the English had to translate the joke into German one word by different researchers none of them would accidentally die.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2003 @10:14AM (#6899463)

        Reminds me of the Monty Python funniest joke ever sketch where the English had to translate the joke into German one word by different researchers none of them would accidentally die.

        Could someone please translate this post into English?

    • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @09:49AM (#6899258)
      That paticular article is mostly psudo science. At the CES a few years ago, switch mode (class G) high effeciency bass amps and subwoofers were demonstrated. One of the more impressive demo booths was a resonant cavity room (tuned port) running 1 KW RMS sine wave at 11 hz. Standing a sheet of newspaper in the port was impressive watching it shake about 6 inches back in forth suspended in the port. I suffered no ill effects from this. I even went through the port into the cavity. (Cube about 12 feet/side) The port was about 6.5 feet high by about 3 feet wide by 3 feet in length into the cavity. I can't see a couple watts described in the article breaking anything. A kilowatt at the CES didn't break anything. You could sense it about 5 booths away. Right at the port the ears hurt a little much like traveling the freeway in a sedan with a window down that causes a resonation, but other than that, no ill effects. Away from the booth way like being near a freeway and having a car go by with a window open. Subsonic resonance may be very strong in the car, but a distance from it outside is mostly not noticed at any distance.

      I've also swept large sound systems for resonances from 5 hz to 20 Khz. Some large rooms resonate in the 3-7 hz range. By the article, I should be dead running between 20-500 watts between 5-25 hz while finding & fixing the light fixtures that rattle. It is true it is hard to hear frequencies below 10 Hz and they are felt at high power, but you sure can hear a chandileer rattle clear cross the room.

      • by Chromal ( 56550 )
        Well, your anecdotal account is not really conclusive. 10hz is merely near-infrasound. 1hz, or far-infrasound, is apparently considered the bottom end. Also, there's a question of amplitude and duration. If there were loud infrasound in your living room for hours on end, it might begin to change your affect in a way a brief exposure mightn't. Of course, this is all conjecture.
        • Frequencies in the 3-7 hz are common in auditoriums from the ventilation. Modern good condenser microphones capture this easly and it can be easly seen on a good console. Most patrons don't realy sense it. It is most often sensed when it quits by it's sudden absense.
  • by iapetus ( 24050 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:03AM (#6898540) Homepage
    The BBC story [bbc.co.uk] on the subject also attributes religious feelings in churches to the sound produced by the infrasound generated by the largest organ pipes in many churches and cathedrals.
    • by Rostin ( 691447 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:35AM (#6898711)
      Which is even more of a leap than the original story, considering that (A) "religious feelings" are not confined to churches, and (B) many (most?) churches don't have pipe organs.. and quite a few don't use instruments of any kind.
      • by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @10:25AM (#6899558) Homepage Journal
        The whole "religious experience" thing is kind of interesting. There is a particular system in the brain responsible for it that can be seen with fMRI. It normally responds to a very personal set of stimuli, if anything. On the other hand, there are things that tend to trigger it, including frontal lobe epilepsy and LSD. It wouldn't be too surprising if low frequency sound did, as well.

        Of course, not all religious experiences are due to any of the automatic factors, but they could help significantly with getting a whole group of people to have religious feelings together. (There has, in fact, been a study of this using LSD, and it worked well). There's actually a lot of fascinating research on the subject, with very interesting philosophical implications.
    • I find it interesting that we look at the correspondence between infrasound and "spooky feelings," apply Occam's razor in the way we see fit, and conclude that this is a simple cause-and-effect. We overlook the lack of any explanation for /why/ humans might even be able to process this information. Personally, I would attribute any evolved correspondence to the dangers inherent from approaching thunderstorms and stampeding elephants, but who knows? I'd like to see some MRIs done that try to look at the neural circuitry and how it's behaving.

      The ancient mystics would have used Occam's razor to conclude the simplest explanation: some ambiguous external force. In other words, in ancient culture, Occam's razor would really have meant we were invoking spirits, because we can use "spirits" as an extremely simple mystical explanation for everyday phenomena.

      In our modern skepticism, the "obvious" conclusion is, interestingly, different from the "obvious" conclusion another culture might draw.
  • Aha! (Score:5, Funny)

    by cybermace5 ( 446439 ) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:04AM (#6898541) Homepage Journal
    Or......infrasound is how the ghosts are trying to communicate with us! All we have to do is record it and then speed up the tape! Maybe play it backwards too? You'd probably hear "Iiiii...am the ghost of Caldera.....bring me $699 or I shall not find eternal peeeaaaaace....."

    • $699?! I though the going rate was tree fiddy? ($3,50)
      • Re:Aha! (Score:3, Funny)

        by smclean ( 521851 )
        'Well, it was about that time that I realized it wasn't a dying *NIX company trying to artificially inflate their stock prices at all, but rather it was that thirty foot tall dinosaur from the paleolithic era! The loch ness monster! I said, "Go away, monster! I ain't given you no damn tree fiddy! Stop bothering my family!"'

        Wife: 'I gave him a dollar!'

        'She gave him a dollar!'

        Wife: 'I thought if I gave him a dollar he would go away.'

        'Well of course he ain't gunna go away if you give him a dollar!

    • Don't know if I've ever tried it before, but hey, SCO: pure comedy gold! The cliche that never grows old! (whoa that rhymes...ok it's time for coffee now.)
    • Ops. I didn't realise. I just went and turned the fan off thinking it was interfering with my vision.
  • ghost (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Bah, infrasound ? low bass rumble ? thats just the ghost farting......
  • by rgottsch ( 18092 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:05AM (#6898550) Homepage
    ...had this in 1964. See The Three Investigators #1: The Secret Of Terror Castle (by Robert Arthur 1964).
  • by ckimyt ( 159096 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:05AM (#6898555)

    I remember reading The Mystery of the Green Ghost [barnesandnoble.com] (Robert Arthur, part of the Three Investigators Series) back in 4th grade (1980ish). It's originally published back in 1965, and one of the "techniques" used by the perpetrators to scare people off was using extremely low notes on a pipe organ, too low for them to hear as sound.
  • Yeah, right... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Maury Markowitz ( 452832 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:05AM (#6898556) Homepage
    "Infrasound is also produced by storms, seasonal winds and weather patterns and some types of earthquakes. Animals such as elephants also use infrasound to communicate over long distances or as weapons to repel foes."

    So now we just have to explain how the elephants got into the haunted houses. Or how it is we don't see ghosts every time there's a thundershower.

    Seriously, trying to come up with a physical explaination of ghost stories that doesn't include the mind of the person is dumb. The range of reported phenomina is so wide as to be clearly "made up".

  • by Crypto Gnome ( 651401 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:06AM (#6898558) Homepage Journal
    (sigh) Oh Great - Just when I thought I had my Home Theater set up correctly, they invent Even Deeper Bass.

    I guess I'll need to upgrade if I ever want to truly enjoy such movies as this Scary Movie [imdb.com]
  • Does anybody remember those "The Three Investigators" books? In one of those, the Investigators were investigating some "haunted house" or something and, in the story, they talked about how a pipe organ playing a very low frequency tone was causing the fearful sensations that everybody was getting.

    Of course, being /. I didn't RTFA... so, is this research claiming to have discovered something new and previously unknown, or are they saying they've simply confirmed something which has been suspected for some
    • Damn! You beat me to this. Reading the article, it isnt obvious to me as to what exactly is "new" about this research. Perhaps the "facts" quoted by Mr. Hitchcock in the "Three Investigator" books werent really facts after all, but speculations / common knowledge among film industry technicians, and this is really the first time someone has conducted a scientific study on this matter. I remember reading these books in the 1980 - 84 range, and at that time, the books were a few years old already, so this is

      • "Alfred Hitchcock Present...The Three Investigators". We loved those books as kids.

        I bought a few for my son, and it turns out that Alfred Hitchcock has been exorcised from these books (a license expired for the name perhaps?). He's been replaced by a generic famous film producer.

        Not that it matters: my kids have no idea who Alfred Hitchcock is anyway.

        Ah well.
    • This was my first thought exactly. Even though it's been almost 30 years since I read that book, I can still remember it. AFAIK it was in the book The Mystery Of The Whispering Mummy from 1965.

      Man... now I'm all nostalgic and stuff. Must...read...book...again..
  • by onion2k ( 203094 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:06AM (#6898562) Homepage
    Scientists find 1 explanation for 1 spooky phenomena, and all paranormal happenings are written off as rubbish?

    Whatever..
    • Furthemore, it strikes me, that just 22% of the people involved felt the differnce according to the article. This is not that much, meaning that majority of people don't seem to react to infrasound at all.
      • Furthemore, it strikes me, that just 22% of the people involved felt the differnce according to the article. This is not that much, meaning that majority of people don't seem to react to infrasound at all.


        And how does that stack against the percentage experiencing paranormal phenomena?

    • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:53AM (#6898827) Journal
      Furthermore -- scientists find a possible explanation for a widely reported mysterious phenomenon, and the people who reported it are dismissed as crackpots while the "skeptics" who ridiculed them come off as geniuses?

      Again, whatever...

      • the people who reported it are dismissed as crackpots while the "skeptics" who ridiculed them come off as geniuses?

        Exactly! Like that one inventor back in the 1400's who invented that one clock with a piece of glass with a starmap in it that can only be seen at one place at one time ever. He even invented computers and paper-eating solutions that activate when someone opens a briefcase and everything... Oh wait, that was in Alias. Nevermind...
    • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @09:15AM (#6898981)
      Scientists find 1 explanation for 1 spooky phenomena, and all paranormal happenings are written off as rubbish?


      Scientists - 1,000,001 ..... Crackpots - 0


      I can't prove something doesn't exist, but you should be able to prove something does exist.

    • And they would've gotten away for it if it wasn't for you meddling slashdotters.
  • Or, of course it could be ghosts USING infrasound to make people feel fear, revulsion, etc.

    Clever ghosts.
  • Interesting (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tyreth ( 523822 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:07AM (#6898573)
    Probably could go a long way to explaining a lot of these phenomena - emotions are a powerful force that lead people to all sorts of irrational conclusions.

    However, there are some reports I have heard that may not be encompassed in this, unless the feelings infrasound induces also result in visions. I have heard stories of objects moving, seeing ghosts and such, and other less intangible occurances.

    Of course, I've never personally witnessed any of these, so I have little to go on :) I am very skeptical of most of these things. I do remember reading once that reports of UFO sightings and haunted house occurances went in cycles throughout a year, and at the times when there was an increase of UFO sightings there would also be an increase in haunted house reports. Sounds like the same source to me (and I am *not* suggesting that aliens are causing it, or ghosts, but rather something less supernatural).
  • by Phoenix-kun ( 458418 ) * on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:09AM (#6898583) Homepage
    It was a most effective tool in keeping the invaders away from places where they were not welcome.
  • by adzoox ( 615327 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:10AM (#6898588) Journal
    Can't remember where I heard this study ... but there was someone recently saying that the proliferation of cell, bluetooth, CB, radio, and wifi signals could be having a minute effect on the brain - causing us to become more impatient because it keeps our brains more active (having to filter the "over abundance" of signals.

    That said, I think it be contradictory to this study because it seems like to me that ghost sightings and the paranormal are not as common as they were in the 80's - to me things like this are only a fad - after movies/books like Poltergeist and Amityville Horror.

    Also, strange sensations like Deja Vu or Premonition I don't think can be explained through this study.

    • by alchemist68 ( 550641 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:56AM (#6898845)
      Also, strange sensations like Deja Vu or Premonition I don't think can be explained through this study.

      Deja Vu can be experienced by any person whose brain is properly stimulated. I worked as a Sleep Disorders Technician/EEG Technician at a hospital to finance my college education. Part of the on-the-job training was viewing videos and suggested reading by physicians and department managers. I recall seeing one video where a patient undergoing a medical study (from the 1960s) had a portion of the skull removed and the surface of the brain exposed. Doctors placed an array of electrodes on the cerebral cortex and stimulated the brain with a few microvolts of electricity. The patient, being conscious of course, said he had feelings of deja vu. On a related note, even the "tunnel experience" many people claim to see who have had near death experiences can also be stimulated without having the *real* near death experience.

      Citing a strange experience, I very reluctantly went to a reknowned psychic with a close friend who said was known for helping police solve murder crimes. Being a scientist, I rejected the session as utter hogwash, but for the life of me, I cannot explain how most of everything the psychic woman told me has come true. Even the authors of the "The Mind's I", Douglas R. Hofstadter and Daniel C. Dennett have noted scientific studies that suggest some psychic phenomena cannot be explained by statistical chance alone. Perhaps these psychics are somehow able to extrapolate what clients might do in the future based on some electromagnetic signature or pattern in the brain. The reason I mention this is that part of my training as an EEG technician involved doing brain death determination studies. The test is performed using an Electroencephalographic recording instrument with the sensitivity set to the most sensitive setting. During that training, my mentor shouted in the room "nobody move", and I said "like this [waving my left arm]". My mentor then made a note in the patient log "technician waving arm" because my waving arm with an electromagnetic field was recorded in the dead patient's drain death determination EEG test. The EEG waves showing no brainwave activity from the patient, slowly swayed (very low frequency) in a manner associated with the movement of my arm. Perhaps these psychics are able to pick up on this electromagnetic field and obtain useful data from it. I know this is pure speculation without evidence, but when confronted with these phenomena, one can only guess as to a possible explaination based on current scientific principles.
      • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @10:44AM (#6899676)
        Being a scientist, I rejected the session as utter hogwash, but for the life of me, I cannot explain how most of everything the psychic woman told me has come true

        Perhaps. But the truth is that you were made aware of her predictions as they were made, and therefore cannot draw any conclusions as to the validity of said predictions. A somewhat more reasonable (but hardly scientifically or statistically valid) test would be if she had taken her "reading" of you and written the predictions down on paper for you to read later, after they had come true (or didn't.) But most poeple won't pay for that: they want to know right now whether they are going to be successful, die of a blood clot, or marry the man/woman of their dreams.

        And I will bet dollars to doughnuts that if you had made a recording of the event, and played it back later, you would have found that she was substantially sharper than you thought, and reeled you in like a fish. There may be true psychics out there (unlikely though that may be) but most of them are just very, very good at social engineering. The fact that you walked away believing that she had made valid predictions about you, or even if she was ultimately proven correct, says absolutely nothing about whether some paranormal or heretofore undiscovered neurological activity was involved. Unfortunately, none of the serious research that I've been able to find on the subject (and there appears to have been some) has ever shown that these powers exist. Proponents will say, of course, that such powers simply do not work in a laboratory setting. The simple way around that would be to interview and track several thousand customers of/visitors to so-called psychics and see whether any patterns appear in the recorded statistics. Recording the actual reading would be a good idea as well, so that any verbal con-artistry can be weeded out of the numbers, but I doubt that many psychics would submit to that.

        Furthermore, I would want to see a name-brand university behind such a study, with some big name study-designers and statisticians behind it, before I would accept the results as having any validity. I would want some people running the show who have something to lose by performing bad science. There have been way too many "fringe science" studies done with the express purpose of proving the existence of paranormal phenomena (which is about as unscientific as one can get), rather than trying to find out what, if anything, is actually going on..

        Amazing how few people grasp the tremendous utility and value of the scientific method, or even what it actually is, rather than perceiving it as a fly in the ointment of their personal belief systems. Oh well. No accounting for taste.
  • by tizzyD ( 577098 ) * <tizzyd@nosPaM.gmail.com> on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:10AM (#6898591) Homepage
    I mean, this guy is a man who does not take just any one's line of crap to be gospel. He listens, he thinks, he uses his brain. More importantly, he doesn't just "know" -- as the W contends -- that things are one way or the other. He's quite open to the possibility of paranormal activity, that is, if you can prove it.

    A man willing to test his own beliefs! My goodness, what more do we want?!!?!

  • by Noryungi ( 70322 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:12AM (#6898603) Homepage Journal
    [firmly tongue in cheek] :-)

    From the article:

    "[...] It's wonderful to be able to examine the evidence," said Sarah Angliss, a composer and engineer who worked on the project.

    Hmmm. Let me get this straight:
    1. She is a woman.
    2. She is an engineer.
    3. She is a composer.
    4. She works on seriously cool projects. Like the effect of infrasound on human behaviour.


    I think I am in love... Will you marry me, Sarah? I just hope my wife is not reading this... ;-)
  • by binaryDigit ( 557647 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:14AM (#6898608)
    In the first controlled experiment of infrasound, Lord and Wiseman played four contemporary pieces of live music, including some laced with infrasound, at a London concert hall and asked the audience to describe their reactions to the music.

    The audience did not know which pieces included infrasound but 22 percent reported more unusual experiences when it was present in the music.

    Their unusual experiences included feeling uneasy or sorrowful, getting chills down the spine or nervous feelings of revulsion or fear.


    Of perhaps it was their unfortunate decision to place the infrasound in the Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails songs vs the Kylie Minogue and TATU songs (or is the the other way around?).
  • by Ian 0x57 ( 688051 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:18AM (#6898627)
    Is that why darth vader had such an impact ?
    • Is that why darth vader had such an impact ?

      Yes. It also explains the feelings of fear and dread that people experience when they hear the phrase "This...is CNN". ;-)

  • by Channard ( 693317 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:20AM (#6898639) Journal
    ... the real explanation for ghosts is that it was old Mr McCavity, the janitor. He knew about the abandoned gold mine under the house and used the ghost disguse to try to scare away the house's rightful owners. And he would have got away with it too, if it wasn't for those meddling kids.
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:25AM (#6898664) Homepage
    Surely the use of "subsonics" to induce feelings of dread and awe was standard sixties SF fare, and was actually applied to good use in the movie "Earthquake," for which movie theatres installed special bass-enhanced sound-reproduction gear called "Sensurround." By all accounts "Sensurround" was very effective in its original form in that particular movie.

    I don't have it at hand, but IIRC in Heinlein's 1966 novel, "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress," the central computer, "Adam Selene," uses his control over HVAC systems to generate fear-incuding subsonics at a critical point in the story?
  • by RobotWisdom ( 25776 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:26AM (#6898673) Homepage
    I cringe when I see people pretending it's somehow scientific to call an unproved hypothesis an 'explanation' just because it fits the current materialist paradigms, and to dismiss wholesale the whole realm of new age thinking, lots of which has been experimentally validated (obviously positive thinking strengthens the immune system, obviously lots of natural remedies have a biochemical basis).

    This sort of closed-mindedness led to 'experts' being sure it was safe to turn cows into cannibals by mixing dead cow-parts into their feed, because 'obviously' no disease could possibly spread via proteins (ha!). If those experts had respected the fuzzy-headed tree-huggers who protested that cannibalism was unnatural, how many lives would have been saved?

    The same cynical BS is responsible for hundreds of thousands of birth defects as depleted uranium and other poisons are poured into the environment-- let the cynics devote their lives to caring for crippled children.

    Robert Anton Wilson calls it 'fundamentalist materialism' (in his book "The New Inquisition": Amazon [amazon.com]) because its advocates make exactly the same logical errors they claim to attack. [more ranting] [robotwisdom.com]

    • I cringe when I see people pretending it's somehow scientific to call an unproved hypothesis an 'explanation' just because it fits the current materialist paradigms, and to dismiss wholesale the whole realm of new age thinking

      Attempting to find parsimonious answers to various questions is not a wholesale dismissal of anything. Consider that it may be you who are close-minded, unwilling to accept the possibility that what you want to believe may not be the truth.

      This sort of closed-mindedness led to 'ex

  • So we should replace the New Age Drivel with Geek Drivel?
  • Infrasound in movies (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:35AM (#6898715) Homepage Journal
    If Infrasound can be produced by normal speakers/woofers, it could be used to add a significant chill factor in horror movies. I bet howling and those spine-chilling wooooooo wooooo sounds *shudder* classify as Infrasound? Because they certainly scare the shit out of me.

    And what's the big deal here...instead of the ghosts scaring people, it's the ghosts producing infrared sound that scares people.
    I'm still scared of my Infrasound producing ghost-overlords.

  • Did anyone else catch this? How could this ever slip by the Reuters editors:
    Lord and his colleagues, who produced infrasound with a seven meter (yard) pipe and tested its impact on 750 people at a concert, said infrasound is also generated by natural phenomena.
    Now I can understand telling someone a meter is about the length of a yard (or vice versa), but a.) not in a written science news article and b.) by the time you pile seven of these things on top of each other they are nowhere near equivalent sizes
  • by Alereon ( 660683 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:43AM (#6898763)

    Poor research methodologies produce ambiguous results: Film at 11

    First, the ambiguous results: 22% reported feeling odd when the infrasound was playing. Howabout when it wasn't playing? 78% also didn't notice ANYTHING. This doesn't really demonstrate anything. Can anyone reliably determine, in a double-blind study, when the infrasound is playing? That would be interesting.

    Now, the poor research methodologies: This wasn't a double-blind study. Heck, they crammed all these people TOGETHER in a concert hall. Can you IMAGINE all the "Hey, do you feel funny? I feel funny!" discussion polluting the results? If this had been a one-at-a-time, double-blind study then I suppose the results might actually be meaningfull.

  • Not enough! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mantera ( 685223 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @08:47AM (#6898787)

    I lived in a house a few years ago where at night you'd be asleep in a bedroom upstairs and hear footsteps walking around and down/up the stairs when you're sure it's no other person, your unalarmed overnight guests unanimously report being creeped out by some incident during the night, you see curtains moving and when you go to close the windows you find them firmly shut, your cat that was snoozing at the other end of the room and glancing at you ever few minutes suddenly looks freaked out and watches the the blank between you from left to right as if he's watching someone walking across the room, a vase falls and a voodoo doll pops out, you find unexplained knots in random places that apparently serve no logical function... etc etc.
    Infrasound doesn't sound like a logical explanation to me.
  • experience bass... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by faxe ( 13735 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @09:05AM (#6898909) Homepage Journal
    Anyone who has ever witnessed a show by a heavy dub sound system (e.g. Jah Shaka) can tell you about the effects long and heavy bass signals can have on a person. Anything from dizzieness, nausea
    and heavy headaches comes along. No wonder people see ghosts under the influence of ultrasound
  • by Insightfill ( 554828 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @09:29AM (#6899073) Homepage
    showing up in 1941 even had some occasional mentions of the use of subsonics to scare off invaders.
  • by digitaltraveller ( 167469 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @09:31AM (#6899089) Homepage
    Remember all those blue, brown, beige boxes that used to float around the net? When I was a kid myself and a friend teamed up to build the pandora's box we found on the net. It was a hacker tool to annoy people. Not that we needed much help though.
    IIRC it consisted of a variable capacitator, 555 timer, and a directional speaker. What you would do was tune the device until it was just the tiniest bit past the perceptible human sound range. Then you would walk around and point it at people and see how stressed you could make them. It worked pretty good. People would get irritated very easily without knowing precisely why. Those who were very susceptible would start to sweat. It clearly induced stress.
    Seems like it might be useful for haunted houses too...
  • New Age? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by valedaemon ( 612234 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @09:46AM (#6899236) Homepage

    Honestly, since when did the subjects of ghosts and haunted houses suddenly become "new age drivel?" I grew up in a small Southern town where every family has at least two dozen ghost stories to tell with some going back two hundred years. While I realize that many "psychics" jump on the ghost bandwagon, please don't confuse their profession with the subjects they cover. Ghost stories are as similar to a new age concept as napalm is a food for deer.

  • Infrasound in film (Score:4, Informative)

    by bleaked ( 609151 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @11:18AM (#6900009)
    There is a really well done french film, "Irreversible" by Gaspard Noe that includes infrasound during one of the more unsettling scenes. I commend Noe for using such a genious technique in this film, since it really expresses the gravity of such a significant scene.

    If you are even in the mood for a quality film, I highly recommend this film. ::Bleaked::
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 08, 2003 @12:00PM (#6900435)
    During the late 1980s I worked in ZLB - a HF transmitting station in NZ.

    Imagine a hall big enough to park up a 737 or 2, incluind the tail, made of concrete block and hard flat surfaces - with a sprung wooden floor, 8-10 feet above concrete.

    Now put ~20 1940-60 era valve HF tramsmitters on that floor, each with a 5hp 3-phase blower keeping things cool.

    Result: lots of low frequency beat from the motors all running at slightly different speeds (they never run true, even when syncronous), unbalance fan rotors and a drum effect from the floor. Cap it off with high level white noise from the blade tips.

    It was a recipe for a sick building. People working there spent most of their off hours sleeping. It wasn't unusual for staff to come off a week long shift and sleep the entire weekend till the shift started again.

    While we knew high level infrasonics was probably the cause, there's no legal limits or recognised testing regime, so people put up with it...
  • by Sigfried_Blip ( 526923 ) on Monday September 08, 2003 @01:50PM (#6901733) Homepage
    I'm a bass fanatic and infrasound has sort of been a hobby of mine for the past several years. Detecting infrasound (frequencies less than 20 Hz) is easy if you have the right equipment and it can be very fascinating, educational, and fun.

    Capturing and monitoring infrasound is easy with a PC, low end sound card, and a cheap microphone. The key is having a low enough sample rate and a spectrum analysis program that is designed for monitoring long term events. I am the author of a Linux signal analysis program called baudline [baudline.com]. It has many features that make it ideal for infrasound monitoring. For those of you who are interested in this sort of thing I would recommend checking out the image entitled -session basso on the Screenshots page, also many of Mystery Signals contain some interesting bass phenomena.

    For baudline infrasound monitoring, some good starting command line parameters would be:

    baudline -memory 50 -samplerate 8000 -decimateby 16 -overlap 50

    This will capture about 5 hours of data at a 500 samples/second rate which is good for frequencies up to 250 Hz. Increasing the -memory buffers to 230 MB, the decimation ratio to 64, and the -overlap to 100% will have a Nyquist frequency of 62.5 Hz and capture almost a weeks worth of data!

Computer programmers do it byte by byte.

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