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Scientifically Engineering a Haunting

The planners of next year’s haunted trail might want to take note: all it takes are certain types of imperceptible “low frequency vibrations” to instantly create a sense of terror in a person’s mind — along with hallucinations of ghost-like specters.

These “infrasounds”, which can be unintentionally generated from any number of sources, like pipe organs or malfunctioning heating ducts, might explain accounts of supposed hauntings in buildings and other locations. Cracked.com has the whole Scooby-Doo-Meets-CSI-story:

 They did an experiment where acoustic scientists sneaked in low frequency sounds at a live concert. Since scientists love nothing more than inducing feelings of fear and terror in unsuspecting citizens, most of the concert goers had no idea what was going on. As a result one minute they were enjoying some sweet tunes while the next a feeling of dread invaded their hearts, crushing all hope and happiness. At the end of the experiment approximately 22 percent of the people involved in the experiment reported feelings of unexplainable dread, chills and depression when infrasound was blasted into the crowd.

 

Why would it have this effect? It may be evolution. It doesn’t take a mad scientist mind control device to create infrasound — mother nature is creating this type of low frequency vibration all the time. Volcanos, earthquakes, strong ocean waves and even winds hitting the hillside in just the right spot can create infrasound. Even animals can create it, and tigers are particularly well known as a source. Thefrequency of a tiger’s roar is around 18Hz — right in that range we mentioned earlier.

 

All of the things that create the sound are huge, powerful and dangerous. Evolution might have taught us that this sound means Bad News.

 

Not only do they have unnerving psychological effects, but the vibrations can cause people to perceive fuzzy floating objects due to the vibrations of their eyeballs:

After one particularly strange experience when a gray shape sat next to his desk for several minutes, Vic Tandy was determined to figure out what the hell was going on. Being a man of science, he was going to skip the part where he had an exorcist come and bless the facility.

 

After eliminating gas poisoning and rogue equipment, Vic realized that the ghostly apparitions seemed to almost always occur in a certain section of the lab. He also realized that if he put a metal sheet in a vice, it would spontaneously vibrate uncontrollably for no apparent reason. Poltergeist, right?

 

No. Just infrasound.

 

Specifically, a “silent” exhaust fan was sending out low frequency vibrations that bounced back and forth on the lab’s walls until they formed a powerful wave at… 18.9Hz. Right at the top of the panic range.

 

And, according to a NASA study, it was powerful enough to resonate with the average human eyeball, causing “smeared” vision. This is a phenomenon where the eye vibrates just enough to register something static — say, the frame of your glasses or a speck of dust — as large, moving shapes

I wonder how practical and effective it would be to apply this process to some kind of “haunted” attraction. Read the whole story here.

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