Is Infrasound the explanation for ghost sightings?

Infrasound refers to extreme bass waves or vibrations, those with a frequency below the audibility range of the human ear (20 Hz to 22 kHz). Even though these waves can’t be heard by us, they can be felt and have been shown to produce a range of effects in some people including anxiety, extreme sorrow, and chills. “Loud infrasound in the range of 0.5 to 10 Hz is sufficient to activate the vestibular, or balance system, in the inner ear.” The study of such sound waves is sometimes referred to as infrasonics.

Infrasonic (aka Soundless Music) was a carefully controlled psychological experiment, in the form of two back-to-back concerts. These concerts were highly unusual because some of the music was laced with infrasound (i.e.extreme bass sound, below 20Hz in frequency).

Until recently, infrasound was thought to have no effect on humans, but when researchers in London played infrasound to a group of people, they started to get nervous, anxious and scared. This could be why people see ghosts – they’re in an old house, the house is moving slowly and making low vibrations (infrasound), the person starts to feel scared, so the brain creates ghosts out of shadows as a reason for the person being scared.

“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,” said Professor Richard Wiseman, a psychologist at the University of Hertfordshire in southern England.

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.
“These results suggest that low frequency sound can cause people to have unusual experiences even though they cannot consciously detect infrasound,” said Wiseman, who presented his findings to the British Association science conference.

In 1998, Vic Tandy, experimental officer and part-time lecturer in the school of international studies and law at Coventry University, and Dr. Tony Lawrence of the psychology department wrote a paper called “Ghosts in the Machine” for the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. They cited infrasound as the cause of apparitions seen by staff at a so-called haunted laboratory in Warwick.

Several years earlier, Tandy was working late in the “haunted” Warwick laboratory when he saw a gray thing coming for him. “I felt the hairs rise on the back of my neck,” he said. “It seemed to be between me and the door, so the only thing I could do was turn and face it.” But the thing disappeared. However, it reappeared in a different form the next day when Tandy was doing some work on his fencing foil. “The handle was clamped in a vice on a workbench, yet the blade started vibrating like mad,” he said. He wondered why the blade vibrated in one part of room but  not in another. The explanation, he discovered, was that infrasound was coming from an extractor fan. “When we finally switched it off, it was as if a huge weight was lifted,” he said. “It makes me think that one of the applications of this ongoing research could be a link between infrasound and sick-building syndrome.” When he measured the infrasound in the laboratory, the showing was 18.98 hertz–the exact frequency at which a human eyeball starts resonating. The sound waves made his eyeballs resonate and produced an optical illusion: He saw a figure that didn’t exist.

There are many phenomena that occur in the world around us that can be explained by science, there are many yet to be explained. Myths often arise surrounding these unexplained phenomena.

Lush valleys with good grazing land right beside a big lake – just the place to live… or is it? In 1986, 1700 people and thousands of animals living near Lake Nyos in the west-African country of Cameroon died overnight. People from neighbouring villages believed that an evil spirit woman lived in the lake, and she had killed everyone and everything because the people had angered her somehow. However, a bunch of researchers have discovered that the mass extinction in 1986 was due to a freak accident rather than supernatural murder.

Lake Nyos is in the top of an extinct volcano which is generating carbon dioxide. This gas works its way up through the rock beneath Lake Nyos, and ends up at the bottom of the lake. On that fatal night in 1986, some event (a mudslide, little earthquake, strong wind) disturbed the water and released the carbon dioxide – the lake burped. Because carbon dioxide is heavier than air, the cloud of gas settled down into the valleys, pushing away all the oxygen and suffocating all the people and animals.

To stop this kind of thing happening again, a team of scientists and engineers have come up with way of circulating the water, which gradually releases the carbon dioxide into the atmosphere without the devastating effects seen on that night in 1986.

An Australian phenomenon, Min Min lights, has recently been explained through the use of science. Professor Jack Pettigrew of the University of Queensland, says that the lights are actually an inverted mirage of light sources which are, in some cases, hundreds of kilometres away over the horizon. Pettigrew used a car traveling from beyond the horizon with the lights on high beam to create his own Min Min light. The light is able to travel from beyond the horizon due to a blanket of cold air down at ground level that can bend the light around the globe.

Infrasound is especially dangerous, due to its strong vibrations, or oscillations. Infrasound waves hug the ground, travel for long distances without losing strength, and are unstoppable. Not much amplitude is needed to produce negative effects in the human body, and even mild infrasound exposure requires several hours, or even days, to reverse symptoms.
Natural and man-made infrasound occurs in our world, but thankfully, extreme manifestations and contact with humans are infrequent.

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6 Responses to “Is Infrasound the explanation for ghost sightings?”

  1. Flossie says:

    Consider this: I can go to Antarctica and get cash from an ATM without a glitch, but should I fall ill during my travels, a hospital there could not access my medical records or know what medications I am on.

  2. kyle says:

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  3. yvonne says:

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  4. Deanne says:

    This is a very interesting and well-researched article. I wonder, though, that the cause-and-effect relationship is determined as being in only one direction. Having had first-hand experience with paranormal activity, I can attest that the negative feelings caused by negative entities is very real, and while the explanation for *how* they are able to produce the negative sensations may be valid, *that* the sensations are being caused only by infrasound is not a possibility. Perhaps the negative entities cause the feelings *via* infrasound, but the feelings are not caused by *just* infrasound, in many cases. Determining the presence of something tangible that is causing the vibrations may explain away some of people’s experiences, but paranormal activity that originates from the unseen spirit world is still a real event. I would like to see the writer investigate, with an open but of course skeptical mind, the reverse relationship (i.e., actual spirits/entities producing the negative effects through real scientific methods).

  5. Zebadiah says:

    The toughest thing about success is that you’ve got to keep on being a success. Talent is only a starting point in this business. You’ve got to keep on working that talent. Someday I’ll reach for it and it won’t be there.

  6. Casper says:

    We can sure agree that infrasound can make you feel bad. My neighbour often plays some kind of computer game with low, creepy sounds, and it feels very unpleasant. Especially as long as you haven’t realised where the noises come from.

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