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The longest anyone can bear Earth’s quietest place is 45 minutes

anechoic

Orfield Labrotories in Minnesota have built an anechoic chamber that is so quiet that no-one can bear to be inside for more than 45 minutes. It has entered into the Guiness Book Of World Records as officially the quietest place on earth – tests measured background noise in the chamber as -9.4 dBA. Yes, that’s minus 9.4 decibels!

The labrotory’s founder, Steven Orfield, said, “”We challenge people to sit in the chamber in the dark – one person stayed in there for 45 minutes. When it’s quiet, ears will adapt. 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”.

The chamber is used by companies to test the noise levels of their products – Harley Davidson have tested their bikes in there and Whirlpool their washing machines.

The chamber is so quiet (and dark) that it is very disorientating, if you stay in too long then you start to hallucinate. You also need to be sitting down when inside, Orfield said, “How you orient yourself is through sounds you hear when you walk. In the anechnoic chamber, you don’t have any cues. You take away the perceptual cues that allow you to balance and manoeuvre. If you’re in there for half an hour, you have to be in a chair”.

I’ve been in many sound-proofed rooms for hearing tests in which the lack of noise is noticable, you can almost feel the quietness. Hard to imagine what it is like in this chamber but I’m sure my tinnitus would keep me company.

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6 comments
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  1. I have to ask the obvious – have they tested it with a deaf or hard of hearing person?

  2. Hi Cynthia,

    Good question, I have emailed Orfieldlabs and asked them if they do any testing of audiology equipment or any kind of research work for hearing loss. I’ll update if I hear anything back.

  3. What a nightmare. I have tinnitus. Far from being quiet, that would amplify it and send me out of my brain!

  4. I have a flat severe loss around 85 dB (SNHL). When I take my aides off its always this quiet. Let me go in there and hang out all day!

  5. Probably should have tested it on mothers who would love to have quiet for about 2 hours.

  6. Have former astronauts, accustomed to weightlessness, tried the room?

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