Mysterious sounds trigger something primitive in our brains. They take us right back to our hunter-gatherer days, when deciphering a weird ‘bloop’ in the jungle might have helped us survive (as it may be a new type of predator). While that’s hardly the case anymore, that part of the brain still works the same way.
Mysterious sounds still pique our interest in a way that other senses don’t. There’s something plain creepy about a sound whose origins you can’t completely ascertain, made even creepier by just how many sounds there are nowadays; from classified radio signals to industrial machines most of us haven’t even heard of. Most of them, however, could be explained by ‘everyday things making everyday noises you just hadn’t noticed before’.
It gets weird, though, when a sound is heard multiple times by multiple people, and none of them can establish where it’s coming from. Some of the most bizarre sounds we’ve ever heard still remain unexplained, despite entire sections of the Internet dedicatedly looking for their origins.
10. The Upsweep
In case it’s not clear from the world map, the Pacific Ocean is humongous, so much so that we still find new islands there we had no idea existed. That’s why any mysterious sound emanating from any part of it is even creepier, as we just don’t know what all lies in its vast, uncharted depths.
The Upsweep – as it’s informally known – is one such sound coming from somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, though we have no idea where. It was first discovered in 1991, and sounds like a long chain of random bursts of frequency. What makes it even weirder is the strength of its source, as the sound could be heard throughout the Pacific. While we do know that it’s coming from a region with a lot of seismic activity, its precise source remains unknown.
9. The 52-Hertz Whale
In 1989, America’s underwater system of microphones meant to detect submarines – also known as SOSUS – accidentally caught a mysterious sound that was strikingly similar to the sound of a whale. Except that it wasn’t like any whale we know of.
For one thing, the frequency of the sound was measured at 52 hertz, which doesn’t match any known whale species. More importantly, though, in all of the readings, the geographical location of the source has never been the same, suggesting that it’s a whale that has been roaming the oceans around the world since at least 1989.
For those who don’t know, individuals from every whale pod sing at a unique frequency and pitch, which is how they identify their own. The fact that we’ve only heard one source of this sound suggests that this whale isn’t just unique in its singing frequency, but it’s also alone. That is, of course, if it’s even a whale and not some deep sea creature we haven’t yet discovered.
First recorded in 1999, JULIA is a name given to yet another sound caught by American hydrophones meant to detect submarines and other suspicious underwater vehicles. The recording sounds like a muffled scream in the ocean to us, though it was apparently so strong that it could be heard across the Pacific Ocean.
According to the team that analyzed it, it sounds a lot like a broken-off iceberg grinding against the ocean floor, which is a fairly common occurrence, especially toward the poles. That’s just a guess, though, as we’ve never been able to confirm the exact location of its source, and that’s what makes it so mysterious.
First reported in 1973, UVB-76 is the name of a shortwave radio station a bit north of Moscow. That would be it – as the USSR was full of towers transmitting coded messages throughout the Cold War – except this one didn’t stop doing so even after the dissolution of the empire. What’s more mysterious is the fact that the sounds haven’t stayed the same throughout its history.
It started with beeps at regular intervals until 1992, when it changed to buzzes. Occasionally, it would be interrupted by a Russian male voice narrating a series of random words or numbers. All of that was until 2010, when the continuous beeps and buzzes just stopped one day, though they still come back for short durations every now and then. Since then, casual listeners have caught other seemingly-unrelated voices on the transmission, like Russian folk songs, random knocks and shuffles, and series of numbers and letters that seem to have nothing to do with each other.
Of course, it may just be an active military transmission, though that’s only based on the guess that the sound is, in fact, coming from a military base and not something else entirely.
6. The Colossi of Memnon
The Colossi of Memnon are two statues of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep III on the west bank of the Nile in Luxor. They depict the pharaoh seated in a resting position and facing the river Nile, though we’re not sure why there are two of them (they look the same!).
The statues are also the center of one of the most enduring mysteries of sound of all time. According to records by quite a few reliable and unrelated sources, the statues started making a peculiar sound around 27 BCE, usually at dawn. It only started after they were damaged by an earthquake, leading many to believe that the newly-formed cracks were somehow contributing to it. However, that was hardly enough to explain the wildly different sounds mentioned in the records; from a loud bellowing of some sort of an animal to the sound made by the breaking of a lyre string (an ancient Greek instrument).
5. The Lincolnshire Poacher
The Lincolnshire Poacher is an informal name given to another possible shortwave numbers station from the Cold War era that refused to die down after the dissolution of the USSR. Unlike UVB-76 – which is almost sure to be located somewhere around Moscow – the exact location of this one is unknown, though observers suspect that it’s a British-controlled base in Cyprus.
Throughout the duration of its continuous transmission every day – starting some time in the 1970s and ending in 2008 – the signal would begin with the first verse of the English folk tune of the same name, followed by unique messages that went on for exactly 45 minutes. Unlike robotic signals from other stations, though, this one sounded like it was narrated by a live voice every time it aired, making it even creepier.
Most people may not realize that a huge part of the background static we hear on Earth is actually the sound of space, as there are many asteroids, planets and other huge bodies that make a lot of noise. The loudest of them, however – at least in our immediate vicinity – has to be Saturn.
Unlike most other planets in the Solar System, Saturn emits a mysterious routine burst of radio waves known as the Saturn Kilometric Radiations. First recorded in detail by Cassini, the burst seemed to be normal radiation coming from the planet’s rotation at first, except that the waves coming in from both of its poles are not consistent with each other. That suggests that both of the planet’s hemispheres are spinning at a different rate, and that’s impossible. Moreover, the position of those waves changes throughout the day, moving from north to south and then back to north as the day comes to end. That means that the two halves of the planet aren’t just spinning at a different rate, they’re also doing so interchangeably and regularly, which just doesn’t make sense.
3. The Taos Hum
Taos is a small town in New Mexico that also serves as a popular skiing destination. It’s also the site of one of the most peculiar continuous sounds ever reported, though much like all of the other weird sounds on this list, no one has ever been able to pinpoint its exact source.
Simply known as the Taos Hum, it was first discovered in 1992. Residents have reported it in a variety of seasons, times of the day and locations around the town, and eerily, no two accounts describe the same sound. A study even installed recorders in the homes of the people who had claimed to have heard it, though it couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary.
2. Mysterious Booms Across the USA
It’s weird enough when you hear a mysterious sound around your house no one can explain, though it’s plain creepy when multiple people in multiple towns across the country hear the same sound. That’s exactly what’s been happening in small towns across the USA for the past few years. Quite a few people from different states have reported hearing loud booms that seem to be similar in description, though their source still remains a mystery.
What’s surprising is that the affected states – such as Colorado, Michigan, California, New Jersey – are spread out across the country, with seemingly no connection to each other. Possible explanations range from exploding asteroids to a top-secret military experiment, though none of them are confirmed yet.
1. Aurora Borealis
Anyone who has had the chance to see the Aurora lights for themselves knows that they’re one of the most spectacular natural occurrences that can be witnessed on Earth. Caused by solar winds abnormally charging up particles in the atmosphere, they’re only found in high-latitude regions near the poles, like Scandinavia and Canada in the north, and Chile, New Zealand and Argentina in the south.
That’s just about the visuals, though, as according to some recent research, Aurora lights make a distinct sound, too. It’s like a hiss, except we don’t really know what causes it. Researchers think that it has something to do with the charged up particles that cause the lights in the first place, though honestly that would be our first guess, too. Other than that, it’s not clear what the sounds are, or even how they’re able to travel hundreds of miles through the atmosphere to reach the ground.