John Huntington and his friends decided to test the reported phenomenon of infrasound (very low-frequency sounds) causing people to feel spooky chills and thrills, a phenomenon blamed for ghost sightings and reports of hauntings. They created a spook-house with a double-blind randomized infrasound generator and used surveys to check for a correlation between infrasound and creepy feelings. John exhaustively documented the experimental setup (and the setbacks encountered in getting things up and running), and the results. Spoiler alert: they didn't find a correlation.
We picked a 19 Hertz (Hz, or cycles per second) sine wave as our infrasound source, since that's the frequency Tandy and Lawrence had found in their initial investigation of a "haunted" space (see Part I of this series for details). For our initial tests last spring, we used an Audio Toolbox as our signal generator, and connected it up to our ancient Apogee P-10 subwoofer processor and a Crown K2 amp, which drove an Apogee AE-10 double 18" subwoofer (these units work just fine, but haven't been made in years.) We got the sound going, but after a minute or so, it would cut out. I figured out that the processor was apparently protecting the subs against the "bad" infrasound, and was cutting out. So, I bypassed the processor and its protection circuits, and (carefully) drove the subwoofers directly from the amp. This worked just fine, but I was a bit concerned about damaging the speakers themselves. Fortuitously, over the summer I managed to get for our department a massive, modern Meyer Sound 650-P powered subwoofer. And after some tests in late summer we determined that the unit could generate quite a bit of 19Hz without clipping, and we figured the level was pretty good because by the time we pushed the 650-P up to its limits, the effects of the infrasound would be obvious to anyone in the room, which wouldn't have been acceptable for our purposes.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, the mind-expanding modus operandi of the counterculture spread into the realm of science, and shit got wonderfully weird. Neurophysiologist John Lilly tried to talk with dolphins. Physicist Peter Phillips launched a parapsychology lab at Washington University. Princeton physicist Gerard O’Neill became an evangelist for space colonies. Groovy Science: Knowledge, […]
In a lead editorial in the current Nature, John Wilbanks (formerly head of Science Commons, now “Chief Commons Officer” for Sage Bionetworks) and Eric Topol (professor of genomics at the Scripps Institute) decry the mass privatization of health data by tech startups, who’re using a combination of side-deals with health authorities/insurers and technological lockups to […]
The Wall Street Journal reports that storytellers—people with a natural inclination to craft concise yet compelling narratives without rambling—were found to be hot by science. Feels good to be a writa. The results were the same across all three studies: Women rated men who were good storytellers as more attractive and desirable as potential long-term […]
Having to pack and drag your stuff through security can put quite the damper on your vacation plans. Thankfully, we’ve got your back with one way to make traveling more painless: the Jumper Overnighter Travel Bag.This compact bag is so lightweight that you can effortlessly carry it, and fit it into any overhead compartment. But just […]
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Home audio has taken some big leaps forward in recent years–not just in terms of sound quality, but also in the style department. The FRESHeBAR Leather Soundbar, now 56% off in the Boing Boing Store, is proof.The FRESHeBAR comes packing almost all the options you’d ever need for a home sound system, including Bluetooth streaming capabilities.The unit’s 90 […]