Gwynneth Paltrow Water Weird and Strange Hum

Gwyneth Paltrow bikiniStrange but I’m still hearing that low frequency hum, and it is not my hard drive as I suspected. Maybe the hum is a collective rumble caused by brains hitting the ground across the globe as people continue to open their minds too far. It would appear that even Gwyneth Paltrow has fallen victim to this phenomenon. I never found the exact source but this quote is attributed to Stephen A. Kallis, Jr.: “Be open-minded, but not so open-minded that your brains fall out.”

This refers to belief in pseudoscientific claims and in general claims of the paranormal. When a claim or belief requires even more claims or beliefs to support it one needs to step back and look at the bigger picture, and the likelihood that a particular claim is probably untrue. Especially when it involves something that most of us, especially the scientifically inclined, probably would have noticed by now. But no, this pseudoscientific baloney drifts around and around, like the ripe scent of cow shit around a farm. All you need is a little ignorant breeze.

Masaru EmotoIn a recent post to Goop Mag, Paltrow marvels at “experiments”, apparently presented in a wonderful hardcover coffee table book (because that’s how we get all of our facts) by Japanese author and entrepreneur, Masaru Emoto. These so-called experiment involved labeling vials of water with various words and phrases such as, “I Hate You,” “fear,” “I Love You,” or “Peace,” and then freezing the water to see what would happen.

Emoto’s photographs of the resulting ice crystals, presented in the unnamed book Paltrow mentions as well as other books he has published, allegedly reveal that water itself can be influenced physically by the mere words written on the vial that contains it. That sounds like complete bullshirt to me.

I was unaware that water could read, let alone feel a certain way because of the words presented, in any given language. Apparently cooked rice does the same thing, after sitting on a shelf for a month. Hey, I’ll go out on a limb here and just speculate that we can expect any amount of muck muck (let’s call it bacteria), in any variation, by sticking some rice in a few jars and letting them sit around, even capped…. No accounting for cleanliness or sanitation prior to performing the test.

Wet rice, so it’s the water making the difference here. Is it so very hard to understand that wet stuff will spoil and get funky? Even water as it freezes is still a safe haven for some bacterial growth. Bacteria is pretty hardy shit. Speaking of that, I read a funny comment in a FB post about this precise subject. The poster commented, “Imagine how crushed her toilet water feels.”

The only thing I think Masaru Emoto has succeeded in doing is selling some books. He’s got the last laugh. If it quacks…

Mysterious Hum Heard in Eastern PA

My first experience with this strange, low frequency hum was sometime back in 2001 in New Jersey. I was in my first home, alone, sitting up in bed one night reading a book. It was very quiet, and I started noticing a very low droning noise. And I mean a very low hum not some ominous trumpeting sounds from the sky. This was a low, persistent sound.

Someone posting on a forum I visited while researching the hum described it like a tractor tailer climbing a hill in low gear and never reaching the top. That’s the most accurate description in my opinion, just a continuous motoring sound.

Similar mysterious hums have been reported by people around the world, “the Taos hum” in New Mexico for example, and other places.

The sound I heard was so low and monotonous, unordinary, that I assumed there must be something going on with my ears. I tried the usual pressure relief trick, holding my nose and creating a slight pressure to “pop” my ears, but the sound persisted, so I began making deliberate noises to see how the hum would be affected.

If anyone was watching they would have thought I was nuts. I’m sitting there in bed with a book on my lap blurting out calls of nothing in particular, “HAP! HOOOO! PSHHHH!” And making throat clearing noises. After each noise the hum would promptly return.

I spent some time looking into it, but didn’t give it too much further thought and more or less forgot about it. Since then I have noticed the hum periodically, and not just in New Jersey. I heard it while on vacation in North Carolina last year. That time my wife was beside me in bed and I asked if she had heard it too. She claimed not.

We’re living in Southeastern Pennsylvania now, and the most recent occurrence of the hum was just last night in bed, and this time my wife did hear it!

I had just switched off the light and we were laying there in the silent darkness. A few moments went by and I said, “I hear the hum again.” Then I went on to reproduce the pitch I was hearing in my head by humming a low tone.

She said, “I hear it too.”

To clarify I said, “not the hum I just made, but something else…”

She replied, “I heard it before you even said anything.”

I was ecstatic, “You did?! You heard THE HUM?! Can you hear it now?”

We were quiet for a moment and, just as the hum returned to my attention, she said, “Yep, there it is. The same low sound like you just made. Sounds like a truck on the highway.”

I said, “Yeah, but if it’s a truck on the highway it would have driven off by now. This keeps going.”

She agreed. We discussed the sound for a few minutes, between silent listening, and eventually drifted off to sleep.

This morning I came down to my studio to work. I’m a musician and was preparing to work on some recording. While I waited for my computer to boot, a relatively quiet Mac Mini, I heard the hum. That was about 9:30 this morning, May 19, 2014.

Low Frequency HumI had a cardioid vocal microphone set up so I decided to record the silent room and see if I could hear the hum in the subsequent recording. After recording for one minute I analyzed the recording with an EQ set up on the audio track. I increased the gain 20dB, cut all frequencies above 200Hz then, while the sound was playing, swept a very narrow band pass slowly from 20Hz up to hunt for the most resonant frequencies.

Tones were present at 60Hz, 90Hz, 120Hz and 180Hz, the strongest of which was at 120Hz and the second strongest at 60Hz. Based on these frequencies the origin in this case could be electrical, however the frequencies were not present in a recording with the microphone input off, so they are not originating in the equipment.

The HVAC system is off, so the only motors running in the house are a radon pump in the attic, the refrigerator and a small impeller pump and air bubbler on the fish tank. The fridge does not run constantly, the fish tank pumps are relatively quiet…

Oh crap, I think I know what the hum is: 3.5 inch Hard Drive in an external USB enclosure (metal housing), sitting on my wooden desktop. Have to test that theory later this evening when my wife is home. But to be sure, I just lifted the drive off of the desk and the hum went away :)

UPDATE: I tested the theory last night. The hum was still present, two floors up, in our bedroom, with the computer and hard drive off, two floors below in the basement. The hum we are hearing is not caused by vibrations of the hard drive resonating on the desk. It’s something else. Our investigation is ongoing…

FWIW here is the recording I made:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

I would be interested in your thoughts, or your story if you’ve heard a strange low hum like this too.

For more information on “the Hum” check these resources:
Wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hum
Wikipedia.org/wiki/Resonance

Paranormal Investigator Advice from Amy Bruni

I just read this article at the Examiner.com and while I understand the interest in spooky ghost stories I am completely dumbfounded by how seriously paranormal “reality” shows are taken by viewers, and how successful they have been.

In our sufficiently advanced age we are entertained by, and make famous, plumbers who hunt ghosts in their spare time. Well, it’s full-time now I guess, they’re veritable rocks stars of paranormal investigation. But I guess I shouldn’t chuckle too much, our society finds celebrities in all kinds of useless TV and film. There’s no pride, no integrity, just a lot of shit.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the plumbing trade, it’s a perfectly worthwhile profession. Certainly more worthwhile than ghost hunting, and in general it pays better, but it is funny to note that in some cases the popularized, televised investigation of nothing is actually a more lucrative endeavor.

How does one find personal fulfillment in achieving fame as a ghost hunter?
There is the money. But for integrity’s sake there are two possibilities, the famed ghost hunter is either incredibly delusional or incredibly ambitious with no ounce of shame. I’d almost prefer to think that these famous paranormal investigators are intentionally taking advantage of the gullible, riding high on a wave of stupendously ignorant TV watchers. At least then we could call them charlatans or con-artists.

But if, like most of their viewers, they actually believe that ghosts are real and huntable then they’re just as ignorant of the facts. Still, credit where credit is due for their audacity at least, they actually had the balls to pursue a career in it and record their so-called investigations on video then pitch their idea to some network.

Our species has been conjuring up ghosts and the possibility of an afterlife, or some otherwise unknown and mysterious great “beyond,” for eons. Luckily, somewhere along the way some of us figured all this was probably bullshit and some smarty pants homo sapiens said, “this doesn’t make sense…” and scientific investigation was born.

After centuries examining claims and finding no evidence to support the existence of ghosts or any other paranormal or “unexplained” thing — including but not limited to gods, spirits, demons, witchcraft, alchemy, aliens, alien abductions, lake monsters, bigfoot, etc. — and assuming that most humans generally consider this stuff relative bunk and permissible merely for entertainment sake, scientists decided to stop looking too seriously at such things and instead began to concentrate on more fruitful endeavors like stuff we could see and examine. This ultimately lead to a greater understanding of our world and our species, as well as great advances in technology, cleaning pucks for your toilet, and Advil.

Now to the main topic of this post: Never a plumber, what advice does Ghost Hunter Amy Bruni share with budding rookie paranormal investigators? One key piece of wisdom she shares is, “expect many hours of investigation with little result.”

Here ends our lesson.

Singing Jibberish GOP Candidate for US Senate

Kathleen Tonn Singing in Tongues in steam roomThis has got me steamed, pun intended. I actually toyed with the idea of moving to Alaska. Love the place, can’t wait to visit, but I’m not man enough to handle the weather there full-time, it takes a special breed of human being to brave Alaska. What else scares me is the woo springing from a particular steam room up there!

What is “Speaking in Tongues?” According to Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (CARM), “Speaking in Tongues is the speaking of a language one does not know by the Power of God.”

But researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, god I love Pennsylvania, monitored the brains of test subjects while they “spoke in tongues” and found that their frontal lobes, and I’ll quote the NYTimes here, “…the thinking, willful part of the brain through which people control what they do — were relatively quiet, as were the language centers.”

Clearly this indicates that the people weren’t thinking, and no language was actually being used. A study published in “Tongues of Men and Angels: The Religious Language of Pentecostalism – A Controversial and Sympathetic Anaylsis of Speaking in Tongues” by William J. Samarin, preceeds the neurological study by 33 years and they agree: no language is present. So clearly this can’t be really speaking in tongues. It’s more like just plain jibberish, but it makes these people feel good so what the heck.

“What the heck” is what the hell Kathleen Tonn, Alaska GOP candidate for Senate, is doing sining in tongues in a steam room in Alaska! This is pretty disturbing. People like this need to be ignored, because sometimes they actually go away. Unfortunately the internet and blogging spreads this bullshit around ad nauseam. And I will too, because I want you to see this display of human kookiness for yourself. It really is quite comical, but the sad part is that it is not a joke.

Fucked up.

Tiger Fish Swallows Swallow

Tiger fishOkay, dopey title, but screw it, THAT is a scary looking fish! You want to talk Strange Encounters? Talk to the birds who narrowly escaped death as one of their comrades was snagged in mid flight by a bird hunting tiger fish. It’s not the first time a finned creature has been documented leaping out of water, for fun or to snag lunch. Whales frequently breach the surface for some form of their own entertainment, dolphins do too, and of course flying fish fly, to some extent. Great white sharks will break the surface too, when snagging a sea lion or a seal.

This is the first time a tiger fish has been documented mowing down on a swallow, but certainly not the first time it has happened. We have to give fish more cred. Hell, I hear goldfish breaching the surface in my fish tank all the time. “Bloop!” Not sure if they’d be able to take down a house fly or anything though. Gotta be quick for that. Check out the swallow catching tiger fish below…

And while you’re at it, watch this one for a laugh. Fish jumps in the boat, man jumps out.

NVidia Tegra K1 Crop Circle Project 192

NVidia K1 Crop Circle publicity stunt - Project 192“I’m a skeptic but, this could be aliens I don’t know. I’m always willing to believe something so…” rambled a gawker standing along side a field in Salinas, California, to check out the mysterious crop circle that was first discovered Monday, December 30.

The crop circle in question was eventually revealed to be a bit of publicity staged by NVidia to promote their K1 Processor, an “impossibly advanced” mobile processor which will deliver super-computer graphics performance to the mobile market. They explain the crop circle on their blog which includes a video. Check it out below…

The crop circle was realized rather quickly by seasoned crop circle artists, with a lead time of only about two weeks. The intricate crop circle contains braile which translates to 192, the number of graphics cores present in the chip which will deliver amazing graphics quality. A spokesman states that the NVidia K1 Processor will be found in mobile phones, tablets, cars, all-in-one desktop computers running Android, and as claimed will be the fastest chip in the universe.

That’s an extraordinary claim. Don’t they need extraordinary evidence to back it up? :)

Happy Monsters and Mysteries New Year

Image depicting attack on cabin by alien creatures.What do I find myself watching on the first day of the new year? “Monsters and Mysteries in America” on Destination America. The Rose Bowl game doesn’t start until 5 so I have some time to kill.

This episode, Appalachia, rehashes Mothman and the Hopkinsville Goblins Case, and they toss in Sheepsquatch for good measure. I like a good spooky story from time to time but this doesn’t work. As usual there is no logic or reality check, they merely present “Eyewitness” testimony and hearsay about encounters, with bad CG monsters and crappy special effects.

But what should we really expect?

The stories are great, but for me they lose their fun and effectiveness when presented as reality. Can we wrap these tales up in another way and actually make them entertaining, without ridiculous re-enactments and witness interviews? Why try to pass them off as real? Who cares? They are fun, spooky stories and that’s all that matters. Just tell them.

Well, most of them are fun and spooky. Sheepsquatch is just stupid, almost as stupid as Batsquatch. You’re probably familiar with that old saying “you can’t make this stuff up.” Well, you can make this stuff up. Let’s give it a try. How about, let’s see… Goatsquatch, Dogsquatch, Porksquatch, PhillyCheesesteakSquatch. See?

Mothman is fun. The creature in the Jeepers Creepers films brings the notion of a creepy, winged-man monster to life, and we’re entertained. Alien invasion stories are always fun, but Sheepsquatch? Nah. I’ll pass on that one.

The Unexplained Files – Leave the Bunk Alone

Carl Kolchak - The Night StalkerAs I said in my last post, we bounced back and forth between The Unexplained files and slightly better TV, Restaurant Impossible, and spent most of the time on the latter. Nothing new on The Unexplained Files, same bunk different day.

Why bother complaining? There is a reason I run this site. A reason I tend to read books and watch TV and movies about monsters, UFOs and strange mysteries in general: it’s fun sometimes. I’m not above admitting an attraction to this stuff. It’s been an interest of mine for a long, long time, and I like it. Tales of the unexplained are entertaining, and sometimes I watch bunk TV even if it’s just to toss wisecrack commentary at the screen during shows like The Unexplained Files.

Maybe somewhere in the back of my mind I wish some of it were true, but all of these things emerge from human imagination and our evolutionary heritage. The thrill we get from tales of the unknown is psychological. There is a reason the phrase “spine tingling” exists; humans love adventure and mystery. Stories and spooky legends turn on our imagination and excite us.

What makes it all a farce is the people coming forward with their “evidence” like “doctor” Phyllis Canion. She has a stuffed mangy dog she’s touting as an unknown predator, and the frozen corpse of a dead something we’re never given a clear shot of. Her comment? “I don’t know what it is, do you?”

Maybe we’d be able to figure it out if the damn cameraman were allowed to get a good shot, but no, we’re not allowed to really look at the “evidence” for ourselves, but should we? Should we bother to investigate? Should we play Kolchak or Fox Mulder? Why? Let’s just enjoy the entertainment and leave it alone.

Shows like this actually detract from the wonder of the entertaining and enduring “mysteries” like Bigfoot, UFOs, ghosts and other wonderful strangeness. It all started with stories and legends.

None of this stuff is true, but it’s fun. Tell the stories, enjoy the mysteries and the “what if” factor, enjoy the thrills and the scares. But don’t try to explain it, don’t ruin the beauty of legend and lore as it exists in our culture.

If we look at it for what it is, and explore the mysteries as a way to entertain ourselves, that’s fine. But don’t try to make it real.

The Unexplained FIles on Science Channel

The Unexplained Files premiers on Sci tonight and I plan to watch, but I will also find something else worthwhile and keep my finger on the [return] button to flick back to “good” TV if it gets too stupid.

I expect a flimsy rehash of the standard “unexplained” fare and suspect it will include scant presentation of any real facts with plenty of attention drawn to complete speculation and nonsense. It is, after all, what the general population (who actually watch this stuff) are looking for.

We don’t want the truth, we want entertainment! I can understand that, I like it too, that’s why I run this damn website, but at some point you would think the producers or broadcasters would at least try to edumacate the general paranormal public about what real science understands regarding these “mysteries.”

Easier said than done I guess. First, people who want to believe nonsense will ignore any legitimate explanation anyway, happens all the time. Second, people who want to believe nonsense will ignore any legitimate explanation anyway, happens all the time.

Turd, the networks won’t get any decent ratings so they have to deliver what the audience wants.

Image of Frederick Valentich and news article about his disappearanceAll kidding aside, the premier episode will feature two stories. The first, “Valentich,” is a rehashing of the disappearance of pilot Frederick Valentich, who vanished without a trace under mysterious circumstances over Bass Strait in Australia.

The mysterious transmission recorded between Valentich and the Melbourne Flight Service Unit reveals some strangeness which tweaks the ears of any UFO buff. Valentich described a strange, shiny metal object “orbiting” overhead. On the recording he stated “it is hovering and it’s not an aircraft.”

This last transmission was followed by strange metallic sounds before contact with his plane was lost. Official investigation has failed to explain the sounds (but they could be the result of a crashing plane), and though no wreckage was discovered it may be assumed that his plane crashed in the sea and was swept away before finally sinking.

According to his father Valentich had an interest in UFOs. He also may have been a bit paranoid, and perhaps was fantasy prone. Not the best combo for a pilot. Of course, that is complete speculation on my part.

Dead, stuffed mangy Texas Blue Lacy dogNext in the premier is “Texas Blue Dogs.” Not sure how the powers-that-be at Sci determined this as part of the lead episode but it sounds down right scary as hell to me. I’ve heard of Texas Hot Weiners but Texas Blue Dogs?

Oh I won’t speculate, but for all we know it’s some crazy hybrid alien-Chupacabra creature running around, I mean, we can’t disprove that right? And there’s a “doctor” on the episode with a full size mounted one of these things. It has crazy blue glass eyes, so it must be for real!

Dr. Phyllis Canion is a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine. In short, a quack. She’s probably on TV to promote her name (and thereby her website, when anyone does a google search, as we do these days), and she may actually convert some visits to sales if enough nonsense-believing dopes pop by. It could happen, that’s why I run this damn website. But at least I’m not a quack.

She also touts her professionally stuffed and sinisterly posed, dead, malnourished or mangy Blue Lacy dog as an example of mysterious, unknown creatures who may be mutilating her chickens and terrorizing other ranchers in Texas.

I mean, let’s not look too closely at these things, we don’t really want to know what the truth is, we just want to be reminded that maybe, just maybe… things are not as they seem. That’s entertainment.

Mysterious Sounds: The Hum

The mystery of The Hum. The first reports of mysterious, monotonous droning noises began in the 1940s and 50s, but the most well known case was the Bristol Hum, heard by about 800 people in Bristol, England in 1979. Scotland followed suit with reports of a strange hum in the 1980s, then Taos, New Mexico put the U.S. on the Hum map.

Apparently as much as 2% of people in “Hum prone” areas, known as “sufferers,” are plagued by The Hum. They claim to be troubled by a persistent humming noise that has been described by some sufferers as a truck driving up hill in low gear, never reaching the top. A low frequency resonance.

But what could The Hum be?

A 2003 study by consultant Geoff Leventhall, an expert in acoustics and president of The Institute of Acoustics, states:

The Hum is the name given to a low frequency noise which is causing persistent complaints, but often cannot be traced to a single, or any, source. If a source is located, the problem moves into the category of engineering noise control and is no longer “the Hum”, although there may be a long period between first complaint and final solution.

Is the Hum the result of a social effect or suggestion? Leventhall’s study explains,

The Hum is widespread, affecting scattered individuals, but periodically a Hum focus arises where there are multiple complaints within a town or area. There has been the Bristol Hum (England), Largs Hum (Scotland), Copenhagen Hum (Denmark), Vancouver Hum (Canada), Taos Hum (New Mexico USA), Kokomo Hum (Indiana USA) etc. A feature of these Hums is that they have been publicised in local and national press, so gathering a momentum which otherwise might not have occurred. The concepts of memetics are applicable here.

Memes, a term coined by Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene, are ideas, behaviors or styles that spread through a culture person to person. Wikipedia explains memes well, “A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena.”

If an individual’s experience is not corroborated by others in the immediate area at the time, or detected with equipment and subsequently it may be subjective, specific to the individual, and could possibly be previously undetected effects of tinnitus, or otoacoustic emissions, noticed after the individual was made aware of the phenomenon through exposure to a meme, through the media or hearsay.

Possible explanations for The Hum include tinnitus, spontaneous otoacoustic emissions (SOE, sounds generated by the ears themselves), and infrasound created by nearby machinery, industrial processes, highway traffic, gas lines, or natural sources, including colliding ocean waves.

In the case of tinnitus and SOE, the specific sound would not be detectable by equipment or anyone else, only known to the subject.

According to an article on NBC News, “Generally, the Hum is only heard indoors, and it’s louder at night than during the day.” The article goes on to state, “It’s also more common in rural or suburban environments; reports of a hum are rare in urban areas.”

This would hold true for internal or external causes of The Hum, since the humming is faint enough to be masked by some ambient noise near the subject.

This author has actually experienced The Hum, but it seems to follow me around, and is intermittent, so it may be the effect of low frequency tinnitus brought on by either muscle tension in the neck or sinus pressure associated with seasonal allergies.

Other Mysterious Cases of The Hum
Whatever the cause it is a strange effect, especially at night, when things are quite. And especially in colder months when we close our windows. The Hum takes on an ominous quality, and it’s easy to imagine some clandestine scenario like massive machinery tunneling its way through the earth, digging subterranean research facilities, secret infrasound guidance systems for submarines, or maybe something stranger.

The McCalla Hum, for example. In 2011, residents of McCalla, Alabama, woke to a strange noise described by some as distant sirens, helicopters or locusts. They could not pinpoint a source, for when they walked in a direction which seemed to be its origin, the sound would then appear to come from behind them.

Strange indeed, but Samford University biology professor, Lawrence J. Davenport, Ph.D., insists that what the residents of McCalla heard were 13 year cicadas.

What other natural phenomena might explain The Hum?

Resources:
A Review of Published Research on Low Frequency Noise and its Effects
The Hum – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sourcing the Taos Hum
NBC News
Infrasound Laboratory