10 Mysterious Noises That Science Can’t Explain

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Some sounds just can’t be explained. No matter how much we analyze, test or scrutinize, there are just no answers forthcoming. While the following sounds all have theories surrounding them, the lack of conclusive proof has made them baffling, bizarre mysteries that have fascinated both scientists and laymen.

10. Slow Down

On May 19, 1997, a weird sound known as the “slow down” was detected by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. To this day, the source has not been determined — theories exist, but none are conclusive. It’s referred to as the slow down because every seven minutes the frequency of the sound literally does slow down.

The slow down was recorded on the Equatorial Pacific Ocean autonomous hydrophone array, and its amplitude was sufficient to have been heard on three sensors at a range of nearly 2,000 km. The best theory seems to be that the sound is Arctic ice slowly moving over land, but while this sounds somewhat similar to the slow down it doesn’t offer conclusive proof for this unsolved mystery.

9. EVPs

“EVP,” or “Electronic Voice Phenomenon,” is the paranormal pseudoscience of capturing the disembodied voices of the spirit world. Paranormal investigators claim that they’ve recorded words and conversations during the course of their research. EVPs are usually captured on audiotape or digital recordings, but they can also be caught on video. These voices aren’t present during the time of recording, and are only uncovered and heard as the audiotape or recording is played back.

EVPs vary from one another. Some are just single words, phrases or sentences, while others are whole conversations involving multiple voices. While some believe these strange sounds are words, others believe that these sounds are unintentional and can be attributed to natural phenomena. One theory is known as apophenia, which is the concept of finding patterns or meaning in otherwise useless data. Another possible explanation is pareidolia, which means the brain is translating an illusion into something of significance.

8. Quacker

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Submarine crews in the Arctic and Atlantic have reported hearing strange noises similar to the sound a frog makes while submerged. Nicknamed the “Quacker” by Soviet crews, these sounds manifested only when the submarines would pass certain areas. It was discovered during the Cold War thanks to new technology made to pick up suspicious signals emerging from the depths of the ocean. Since the Americans and Russians took great pains to hide their submarines from each other, it was assumed the noise was coming from some type of hidden submarine detection technology. However, the evidence showed otherwise.

The truly bizarre thing about the quacker was that the sound would actually react to the submarines. It would avoid the submarines, move and circle around them, and elude sonar. It was concluded that the origin of the quacker couldn’t be another vessel as the speed of the quacker was around 200 km/h. These sounds faded in the 1980s, and while theories ranging from unidentified marine animals to aliens to secret military technology have been proposed, none have offered a solid explanation.

7. Planetary Sound

Do you know that planets make sounds? It’s unusual to think that they can, let alone have these sounds register since space is a vacuum that sound can’t travel through. Radio waves, however, can travel through space, and spacecraft roaming the universe compile information on radio emissions that their instruments pick up.

Some of these emissions are “sounds” that planets and moons emit, such as whistling helium or howls. Recordings of planetary sound are then altered into sound waves to render them audible to the human ear. While their source is usually known, they’re nevertheless bizarre and eerie.

6. The Unknown Howl

Some sounds are so unknown they don’t even have an official name attached to them. That’s the case with a series of mysterious sounds coming out of northern Canada. These weird howls have been captured on video and uploaded on YouTube, where they’ve accumulated over half a million views. Allegedly the sounds are coming from an unknown source emanating from deep within a forest near the tiny town of Conklin, Alberta.

This video evidence was followed by another playing the same kind of sound, but from a different location — The Pas, Manitoba. These sounds have elicited significant controversy and a diversity of opinion. Some have stated that it sounds like music, while others believe the origins might be extraterrestrial and some have gone as far as stating that it’s the very sound of Hell itself. With no plausible answer in sight, more video evidence has appeared, with new sources coming from such diverse locations as Glasgow, Chicago and Denmark.

5. Mistpouffers

Loud, unexplained and seemingly random sounds have been coming from large bodies of water around the world, from the Great Lakes in America to the Yellow River in India. These strange sounds have been officially termed “mistpouffers,” and have been described by witnesses as sounding like thunder. However, there are usually no storms in range when these booms occur.

Mistpouffers are incredible powerful. The sound generated by them can produce shockwaves that are felt miles away. Multiple theories have been put forward, including pent up gas, underwater caves collapsing, meteorites and rapidly rising air. But extensive research has yet to produce a credible answer as to what these sounds are and why they occur.

4. One World Trade Center

A mysterious, eerie sound has been causing consternation for residents near the site of the former World Trade Center and the current home of the new One World Trade Center. The noise sounds like a buzzing with a slight melancholy to it, almost like a faint wailing. This unsettling sound appears to come from the building itself, and it’s noticeable enough to have been heard by pedestrians so it’s not simply an isolated incident witnessed by a few folks with sensitive ears. The initial theory was that the sound was created by a wind vacuum within the then empty structure, since it was first heard during Hurricane Sandy. But the sound hasn’t ceased, even though the building is complete and the hurricane is now an afterthought. So what it? The spirits of the deceased? As of now, the mystery remains.

3. Bloop

Like the “slow down,” the low frequency sound known as the “bloop” was picked up by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1997. The unidentified bloop contained such a high amplitude that it was detected by multiple sensors over a range of 5,000 km, a testament to how loud it is.

This sound originated from about 1,750 kilometers west of Chile, a remote location with no land and an ocean depth of about 4,300 meters. The bloop’s nature and characteristics are comparable to sounds made by marine animals, but even  blue whales, the largest living creatures on the planet, can’t produce a sound equal to the bloop. While nothing has been conclusively proven, the most likely theory is that the bloop was caused by a massive icequake.

2. The Hum

Strange, unexplained low humming sounds have been reported throughout the world, although the source of this low frequency noise can’t be found or explained. At times it appears the hum is connected to natural phenomena such as active volcanoes, but this theory isn’t enough to explain all cases. What makes the hum weird and spooky is that some people can pick up on it while others hear nothing at all. There  have also been reports of the hum being noisier indoors, and attempts to block the sound with earplugs seem to be ineffective as the hum travels through the body like vibrations. Furthermore, the hum seems to intensify at night, further complicating attempts to explain it.

1. The Wow! Signal

Dr. Jerry Ehman first detected the “Wow!” signal on August 15, 1977 while working on the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project in Ohio State University. SETI had working for decades in the hopes of receiving some type of extraterrestrial contact. The one minute and 12 second signal was only detected once and never replicated, and was called “Wow” because that’s what Dr. Ehman wrote on the printout of the signal. Dr. Ehman was initially skeptical of the source, believing it to be an Earth signal reflected off of space debris. But the more he looked into it, the more difficult it became to explain.

The signal was about 30 times louder than anything around it, and unlike natural radio frequencies the wow signal was not distributed in various ranges — it was at the very specific frequency of 1420 MHz. This signal is only used by astronomers, since it’s the natural frequency of hydrogen atoms in space. We use it to map out the universe, so the fact that we received the signal suggests that an intelligent life form may be doing the same thing on their end. It’s theorized that its origin is extraterrestrial, but there’s no solid proof of this hypothesis. The only thing we know for sure is that the signal came from the constellation Sagittarius.

Want to listen to more strange sounds?
We’ve got a list of weird instruments featured in rock music. Or, if you’re been enticed by the scientific mysteries presented in this article, why not read about some historical mysteries?

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