Modern life can be noisy. We might have Spotify or iTunes playing in the background, and we may hear cars and trains going by, and airplanes overhead. But one place in South Minneapolis, Minnesota offers a respite from all the sounds.
Orfield Laboratories’ anechoic chamber is officially the quietest place on Earth, Oddity Central reports. Yes, anechoic, as in “no echo.” The room uses special sound-damping materials that kill any echoes in the room. It’s so quiet that people report that they can hear their internal organs. It’s so quiet it’s in the “Guinness Book of Records.” It’s not completely echoless, but it absorbs 99.99 percent of sound.
The room wasn’t built just because it got too noisy. It’s mainly used for testing audio equipment in controlled conditions. It also doubles as a soundproof torture chamber.
Although the idea of a very quiet room sounds appealing, especially for those of us who like to read, nobody’s been able to stay in their for more than hour with the lights off, the record being 45 minutes. Orfield Labs’ founder, Steven Orfield, the guy who built the thing in the first place, can stay in it for 30 minutes. He has an artificial heart valve that he says is very loud in there without any external sounds, but people’s ears adjust while they’re in there.
The quieter the room, the more things you hear. You’ll hear your heart beating; sometimes you can hear your lungs, hear your stomach gurgling loudly. In the anechoic chamber, you become the sound,” he told Oddity Central.
If you do take the challenge to sit in the room, you have to sit down, because the lack of aural perception cues makes it impossible to balance yourself without the lights on.
Hallucinations start without sensory input. NASA tests their astronauts this way by making them float in tanks of water.
Here’s a video of an acoustics class visiting the chamber:
Although the audio and video quality isn’t the greatest, the lack of echoes is obvious. You can also hear the tape mechanism on the camera very clearly.