While many of us frequently long for a little peace and quiet, too much quiet isn’t peaceful at all. In fact, an anechoic chamber at Microsoft’s headquarters in Washington is so off-putting that no one has been able to spend more than an hour inside.
The world record holder
One of the various achievements that the Guinness Book of World Records has recognized is the quietest place on Earth. And Microsoft’s chamber achieved that distinction all the way back in 2015.
Let’s put the quietness of this room into some perspective. Even places that we think of as especially quiet are almost always above the zero-decibel threshold that represents a human ear’s capacity to hear. This chamber, however, measures at an unbelievable -20.35 dBA, which is a decibel measurement related to the level of sound pressure.
What happens when you’re inside?
While you might not initially think that being in such a quiet place would be all that bad, a few minutes in this chamber would dispel such a notion. Although you can’t hear external noises, your ears will begin picking up the sounds from inside your body that are typically drowned out by other sounds.
Here’s what those who have ventured inside report:
- First, you’ll start to hear the beating of your own heart.
- Soon thereafter, the sound of your blood flowing starts to become audible.
- Around the same time, you can even hear your bones grinding.
- Pretty soon, the ringing in your ears becomes too much to bear.
This and other anechoic chambers are created with vibration-dampening wedges that absorb sound waves. While Microsoft currently holds the record, Orfield Laboratories in Minnesota thinks it should regain the crown it previously earned.
Designer Steven Orfiled claims “a legitimate measurement” of the room was -24.9 dBA.