Is there total silence on Earth?

The moment we become calm and quiet, we begin to hear sounds that we normally pay no attention to. There is no absolute silence, at least on planet Earth. The closest thing we can experience is the inside an anechoic chamber. And it is not a pleasant experience for most people.

An anechoic chamber is a room isolated from external acoustic sources and with an internal design of floor, ceiling and walls that absorbs all acoustic waves and all electromagnetic waves. The external insulation prevents the entry of noise and the absorption of waves inside minimizes reflection and echo.

The result is the closest thing we can experience to being in a open space, infinite and of absolute silencesince no noise reaches us from outside and the acoustic waves that may be produced inside are absorbed by the walls of the chamber without any return.

Nowadays, the anechoic chamber of the Microsoft Audio Lab is considered the quietest place on Earth, at least it has that Guinness record. It must be taken into account that the vibration of the planet itself emits sound waves, although the human being cannot perceive them. Technically, absolute silence only exists in a vacuumwhich disappears as soon as we are there.

The madness of absolute silence

Sound stimuli in our brain are constant throughout our lives and we are so used to them that the vast majority go unnoticed. When one faces absolute external silence, the brain stops receiving those stimuli and focuses on internal stimuli. The heartbeat, bowel movements or breathing begin to be heard very intensely.

Some people, like the composer John Cage, have even heard sounds that engineers identify with blood flow or the functioning of the nervous system.

At the beginning of a sensory deprivation you can feel calm and calm and some meditation techniques use it as a vehicle. Precisely through meditationsome people claim to experience total silence, although this is still a subjective experience that does not correspond to a real absence of sound.

However, for most people, sustained sensory deprivation over time causes strong anxiety attacks, hallucinations and paranoia. And this is what can happen inside an anechoic chamber. Sound deprivation can cause hallucinations after exposures of as little as 15 minutes.

In fact, sensory deprivation has been used as a method of torture, one of the most notorious cases being that of José Padilla, a prisoner in the United States who was subjected to sensory deprivation for 1,307 days.

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