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The Taos Hum

April 22, 2019

Taos, New Mexico is home to an artistic community, a lot of turquoise jewelry, unbelievably beautiful landscapes…and a strange noise that’s baffled scientists.

Out of the blue

Sometime out of the blue in the early ‘90s, residents of the northern New Mexico city of Taos — and not from any one part of town either — started hearing a strange noise. It was variously described as a humming, a whirring, a rumbling, a low-pitched buzz, or a faint droning, like a box fan or car idling. Oh, and it never stopped, although it was universally more prominent at night and more noticeable indoors rather than out.

Science to the rescue

By 1993, the citizens of Taos that heard the “Taos Hum” (and who were slowly being driven crazy by the “Taos Hum”) asked Congress for help. That launched an investigation led by Joe Mullins, an engineering professor at the University of Mexico. He led interviews with hum-hearing residents, and also helped a team of scientists install sound detection and recording devices in strategic places all over town.

The theories

There were plenty of theories about what was causing this faint, mysterious sound, logical explanations like industrial machines, pressurized gas lines, power lines, phone towers, or low-frequency radiation. There was even the possibility that it was microseisms, which are tiny, faint earthquakes caused by ocean waves…although New Mexico is just a bit too far inland for that to work.

No true cause

When the study was complete, it revealed that 2 percent of Taos residents could definitely hear the Taos Hum — and they all could imitate the sound in a way consistent with each other’s reports. But that’s about the only thing the study revealed — Mullins and his team could not pinpoint the cause of the hum.

Mass hysteria

That invited speculation that the Hum is some kind of mass hysteria, outbreak of tinnitus (“ringing in the ears”) or collective auditory hallucination. That would explain how some avowed Taos Hum hearers still heard the Hum after moving away.

Conspiracy theory

Or maybe a local conspiracy theory is true: the sounds are coming from an underground UFO base. After all, it’s a mere four-hour drive from Taos to Roswell, New Mexico, site of a purported UFO crash in 1947.

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