Best Of: The international mystery of ‘the Hum’

This is an audio transcript of the FT Weekend podcast episode: ‘Best Of — The international mystery of ‘the Hum’’

Lilah Raptopoulos
Hi, listeners. It is Thanksgiving week here in the US. So we are taking a break and instead we’re bringing you one of our favourite episodes from the archives. As a reminder, we are still collecting your predictions and wishes for 2023, what you want to happen culturally next year. We’ll be doing an end-of-the-year call-in show featuring your messages and we’ve gotten in some amazing, very funny stuff so far. So tell us what you want from next year. Like what will be our next social platform of choice? Or how will we party? Or how will fashion change? Or I don’t know — what kind of movies or TV do you want to see? Let your mind take you wherever it wants and send us your thoughts. You can leave us a voice note using the link in the show notes from whatever device you’re on. Or you can email us at FTweekendpodcast@ft.com. OK. Enjoy the show.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Yvonne Conner
First that it wasn’t just a noise. It came with like a wave of energy first. So I used to feel it before it actually came.

Imogen West-Knights
How weird.

Yvonne Conner
So I used to sit in our front room after tea and around seven o’clock every night I’d go, “It’s coming.” And you know, and I go because I’ve just felt like this wave go through my all my ears and now within like 10 seconds, a noise.

Imogen West-Knights
When you hear it . . .

Lilah Raptopoulos
That’s journalist Imogen West-Knights, talking with Yvonne Conner, a resident of Halifax, West Yorkshire. Halifax is a small town tucked into a valley in the countryside of northern England, close to Leeds, population 88,000. Yvonne is talking about a mysterious hum that’s been bothering her for the last two years. She’s saying that when she first heard it, she’d feel it come in every night after tea, which is northern English for dinner. It would go through her head and her ears before she could hear it. Imogen recently travelled to Halifax to speak to Yvonne and others like her and she wrote in a magazine cover story about it called, “The international mystery of the Hum”. Halifax residents say they’ve been hearing the Hum since about the start of Covid and it’s really hard on them.

Imogen West-Knights
So you’re saying you’re thinking about moving?

Yvonne Conner
Yeah, because I couldn’t stand it much longer. Just like, oh, last year I kept looking at lodgers, I kept thinking of buying a lodge somewhere up in Skipton so I could run away . . .

Imogen West-Knights
Yeah.

Yvonne Conner
There. Anything I could move into just to get me out of here . . .

Imogen West-Knights
Yeah.

Yvonne Conner
For a little while, I looked up.

Lilah Raptopoulos
But the thing is, not everyone in Halifax can hear the Hum. To those who can hear it, like Yvonne and hundreds of others, it’s with her often. But those who can’t hear it, well, they have a hard time believing it’s real. This week, we jump on Imogen’s investigation and keep going.

Are these people actually hearing something? Is it an illness or something external, like an industrial noise? Is it possible there’s a global phenomenon that’s behind these vibrations? We even got our sound engineer involved.

Breen Turner
That’s really clearly just basically one frequency. But there is a lot of activity underneath it.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Lilah Raptopoulos
So here we go. The international mystery of ‘the Hum’. This is FT Weekend. I’m Lilah Raptopoulos.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

In Halifax, it all started with Yvonne.

Imogen West-Knights
So Yvonne is yeah, one of, she sort of considers herself, I mean, she is a spokesperson for the phenomenon in her area, which is Holmfield and the surrounding neighbourhoods, which is a part of Halifax in West Yorkshire. And she noticed the sound in April of 2020, she thinks, is the first time that she remembers being kept up by it. And just hearing this vibration sound in her house, primarily, that’s where it was loudest.

Lilah Raptopoulos
This is Imogen talking to me from our studio in London. She heard about this story a few months ago. Her friend sent her a local BBC article about Yvonne and the Hum and said, “This is my worst nightmare.” And Imogen thought, this is really weird. So she called Yvonne. And Yvonne told her this story.

Imogen West-Knights
And she thought for a while that it was a neighbour hoovering at weird times or got a new boiler or something like that. And then eventually she actually went to the neighbour.

Yvonne Conner
I questioned her and she were like, “No, why?” I was like, “Well, I keep hearing this noise.” And she were like, “Oh, we thought that were you. I was like, “Really? So if not, who then?” So that made me think, “Well, what actually is this?”

Lilah Raptopoulos
That’s Yvonne on tape, as you probably gathered.

Imogen West-Knights
And from there, she’s sort of found herself getting out of bed in the middle of the night, driven half-crazy by it, driving around the town and finding that she could hear it all over the place, not just in her own home. But for ages, months and months, she apparently just thought she was losing her mind a little bit because her husband couldn’t hear it and her son couldn’t hear it. And then January 2021, she set up a Facebook group about it.

Lilah Raptopoulos
About 800 people responded to Yvonne on Facebook. That’s 800 people clustered around the same locality, hearing something that no one else is hearing. It made Yvonne feel like she wasn’t alone.

Yvonne Conner
So I know that I’m not going mad. And I think the actual setting up the Facebook page, finding out, I’m just putting that question out there, and finding out I wasn’t the only person . . .

Lilah Raptopoulos
Yeah.

Yvonne Conner
Actually helped me stay sane because I really believed it were just me. And it remains.

Lilah Raptopoulos
And this isn’t the only Hum. Windsor, Canada. Taos, New Mexico. Google “the Hum” and you’ll find global maps dotted with them. Imogen’s been through tons of YouTube videos because around when she first talked to Yvonne on the phone, she also went down this Internet rabbit hole, looking at them, listening to them, studying wavelengths, reading Reddit threads. She went deep.

Imogen West-Knights
So in this country, the earliest reliable reports come from Bristol in the 1970s. It depends who you ask, but most people would say those are the ones that you can trace back to this thing known as “the Hum”. And a lot of people started hearing this same weird, low droning sound and they didn’t know what it was. And it was supposed to be so bad then that it was causing people’s noses up to bleed from the kind of vibrations in their head . . .

Lilah Raptopoulos
Wow.

Imogen West-Knights
But it’s been all over the world. There’s one in Germany. There’s a load in the US.

Lilah Raptopoulos
So when you went online and you found out these conspiracy theories, can you go through those theories with me? (laughter) Like before you went, what theories did you have in your mind?

Imogen West-Knights
Yeah. So, I mean, there’s all your classic end-of-days, doomsayer stuff . . .

Lilah Raptopoulos
Sure.

Imogen West-Knights
About like it’s a climate catastrophe and Mother Earth is warning, you know, that kind of thing. But there were a load of reports from France about wave activity hitting the ocean floor thousands of miles away and kind of reverberating through the earth. And then there was a lot of stuff about various different industrial possibilities, like wind farms or factory furnaces . . .

Lilah Raptopoulos
Yeah.

Imogen West-Knights
Pipes, you know, all the kind of like prosaic stuff.

Lilah Raptopoulos
What were you expecting to find when you went up there? Did you have an idea? Did you think, I have no idea, I’m just gonna see.

Imogen West-Knights
I didn’t know. I mean, my worry on the way there, I suppose, was that I would get there and not find that many people who could hear it. Or it would turn out that the main people who could hear it had some other issue that hadn’t been reported in the press, like a, I don’t know, a medical condition or something that would make it not a mystery in that case. And I was worried that I wouldn’t hear it. It seemed pretty likely that I wasn’t going to hear it, because everything that I’d read about the Hum so far was, said that the majority of people who do hear it are middle-aged and beyond. Mostly female, although I am female. But I was concerned that, you know, it could be there and I would not be able to hear it and then I wouldn’t know where to go from there exactly.

[CAR NOISES PLAYING]

Lilah Raptopoulos
There was only so much Imogen could do from home. So she got in the car and she drove to Halifax.

[CAR NOISES PLAYING]

She wanted to solve the mystery, or if she couldn’t, at least be its witness. She started small by walking around town, asking people if they could hear the Hum, and not everybody took her seriously.

Imogen West-Knights
I went into a pub and this guy saw me coming a mile off and gave me this spiel about UFOs and then was saying it was the, another woman who was in the pub had left her vibrator on upstairs. You know, it’s hard to know. I turn up in the wrong shoes with my little recorder and I’m traipsing around and saying hello to people. I think they see me coming. So a lot of people were quite happy to have a bit of fun with the out-of-town journalist.

Lilah Raptopoulos
But there were also a number of people who did care about it and they wanted to share their theories.

Imogen West-Knights
In terms of people who were seriously speculating on what it might be. There’s been a new phone mast put in up at the top of the valley, so you know, it was a bit of kind of 5G type chat I got from people. There’s an electricity substation nearby that people spoke about. There used to be a train station in Holmfield and then that got demolished. But the people were talking about tunnels underground that used to service the train station and maybe something reverberating through that . . .

Lilah Raptopoulos
Right.

Imogen West-Knights
And then there are these industrial units. There’s an industrial site in Holmfield where there are three or four companies, big ones, who run various kinds of factory equipment. And that came up a lot as well.

Lilah Raptopoulos
I mean, I imagine it was also probably hard because for some people it was like this is causing them real suffering. So it’s not a fun story. It’s like a real one.

Imogen West-Knights
Right! I mean, I have to say, obviously, what drew me to it initially was I was like, oh, this is a bit kind of like spooky and fun. And then you get talking to people who are affected by it and there’s nothing funny about it at all. It’s, you know, incredibly distressing to live with that kind of an intrusion into your private space as well, because a lot of people spoke about it being loudest at home and at night when, you know, you expect to have a bit of peace and quiet.

Lilah Raptopoulos
To give you some sense of the disruption on people’s real lives, the Hum bothered Yvonne so much that she had to quit her job. She’d been a support worker for a homeless charity, which she loved. But as the Hum kept her up later and later she started to lose concentration. She couldn’t function during the day and eventually she quit to take better care of herself.

[CAR NOISES PLAYING]

Imogen West-Knights
What kind of dog is the next dog?

Yvonne Conner
A golden retriever.

Lilah Raptopoulos
She started walking dogs instead.

Yvonne Conner
I’ve been sleeping with my earphones in. I was asleep and listening. I’d listened to three or four CD’s over the night from like three o’clock in the morning right through. And if I fell asleep, I fell asleep. If I didn’t, I didn’t. I just couldn’t go anywhere else in the house to get away from it because it was in every single room.

Lilah Raptopoulos
What did the Hum sound like to her?

Imogen West-Knights
She described it like, lots of people described it this way: a car accelerating in such a way that it would suggest it’s coming towards you. But it never arrives. It never comes and it never goes away. It’s such an infuriating sound in and of itself, because it’s so full of potential to end, because you’re like, oh, I know this sound and then it goes away, but it doesn’t.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Oh, that’s maddening. That’s so scary.

Imogen West-Knights
Yeah. Horrible.

Lilah Raptopoulos
The symptoms that Yvonne and others described to Imogen were sleeplessness, nausea, anxiety, headaches, despair. One woman told her that once you hear the Hum, you can’t unhear it. But Imogen couldn’t hear it. She went on a walk alone on her first day there, trying to find it.

Imogen West-Knights
I didn’t hear anything, and I really tried. And it’s a weird thing to try, too. I sort of found myself standing in the street straining. I don’t even know what muscle I was straining, but like trying to hear something and I couldn’t. I mean, everything is really noisy if you’re trying to listen to silence to find noise in it. So I couldn’t say that I heard anything that made me think, oh, that’s unusual.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Next, Imogen went on a walk with Yvonne and the dogs.

Yvonne Conner
Goodbye.

Imogen West-Knights
We were walking in the valley and she pointed over at some factory buildings and was like, “Can you hear that?” And then suddenly I could hear it. There was this droning sound coming from the factory, and I was like, “Oh, yeah, I can hear that.” And she said, “That sound is what I hear in my house.”

Yvonne Conner
But the wave of sound will continue with frequency for miles.

Imogen West-Knights
And it was loud and we were quite far away from the buildings. But even so, you know, factories make noise at night . . .

Lilah Raptopoulos
Right.

Imogen West-Knights
That’s not, that’s not a surprising fact.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Then that night, Imogen went to Yvonne’s house. They went up to the attic and couldn’t hear it. They went down into the kitchen, couldn’t hear it. Then Yvonne turned off the appliances. She unplugged the fridge. She turned off the boiler.

Imogen West-Knights
Bit of wait for them to stop running. But when they did, I could hear. Suddenly I did hear this, it was really quiet, and I think I’m not, I must not be as sensitive. My ears may not be as sensitive to the sound as Yvonne’s. And she said it wasn’t as bad as, she said it was like a three out of ten on that day.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Hmm.

Imogen West-Knights
But I did hear this sound, this sort of very, very low humming sound.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Let me say that again. Suddenly, Imogen could hear the sound. Here’s that moment from her recording in Halifax, the moment she finally hears it.

Yvonne Conner
Yeah.

Imogen West-Knights
You can hear the Hum.

Yvonne Conner
Yeah. (long pause) Can you hear that?

Imogen West-Knights
Yeah, I can definitely hear that.

And it had this slight pulse in it, which is another thing that people talk about with the Hum, is it’s got a beat. Not necessarily a regular one, but yeah, I couldn’t believe it. I mean, I was thrilled, obviously, because here was proof to my mind, anyway . . .

Lilah Raptopoulos
Alright.

Imogen West-Knights
That she was, because I don’t know, she seemed absolutely lovely and we had a nice day together. But you never know that maybe it was not real.

Lilah Raptopoulos
There are some people who’ve done research on the Hum. Not many, but some as there’s not some huge financial incentive to figure this out. One thing that everybody agrees on is that most of the people who hear the Hum are middle-aged women. And that’s true of hums beyond Halifax. For whatever reason, it seems to affect them disproportionately. Beyond that, there are different theories. One is that the Hum is environmental, that it’s a real sound coming from the area, like what Imogen already mentioned. Turbines. Ocean sounds. Old tunnels. Another theory is that the Hum is internal, that it’s an illusion coming from the mind. There’s a high school teacher in Canada named Glen MacPherson. He’s heard the Hum and he’s done a lot of research on it, so much that he has a website database where people can document their own experiences with it.

Imogen West-Knights
I feel like he’s quite reliable because he’s put so much time into it.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Glen adheres to the internal sound theory — that it’s not a sound at all. It’s generated within the body like your ears ringing after a loud concert. But the twist is that a lot of people, including Yvonne, they can get away from the sound. The hum doesn’t follow her out of town. So how could it be in her head?

Imogen West-Knights
I spoke to Yvonne in January when she’s got back. She went on cruise over Christmas.

Lilah Raptopoulos
What does Yvonne think it is?

Imogen West-Knights
She thinks it’s something industrial. There was a particular furniture factory that came up a lot in my conversations with locals that I spoke to, and they said they didn’t run machinery overnight. It couldn’t be them because people heard it at night-time. But she’s not sort of wedded to any particular theory, and I can completely understand. It does sound that way. The noise. And you can hear that noise near the factories.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Imogen’s theory is that the Hum might be both external and internal, that it starts as environmental, but it can become psychological. You know, the initial sound is real, but it gets so entrenched in your mind and so upsetting that even if it goes away, some people just can’t stop associating it with that place and then can’t stop hearing it. That’s actually happened before. In Windsor, Ontario, people heard a hum for several years in the 2010s. Researchers thought it was coming from a steelworks. And then when the steelworks closed, most people — they stopped hearing it. But for some, the Hum continued.

Imogen West-Knights
In terms of it being a real noise versus something that maybe the human body generates in a disordered kind of way, what people would sometimes say is like, oh, one person will have this disorder or tinnitus or being noise sensitive or something like that, and then they’ll start making a fuss in the local press. And a lot of bored people will say, oh yeah, I hear that as well. And I just think that’s such a cynical view of the way people act. I believed everybody I spoke to who told me about how distressing the sound was to them, and I didn’t think that they just made it up in order to jump on some local bandwagon.

Lilah Raptopoulos
But back to Imogen’s journey, she heard the sound. But then here’s what happened next.

Imogen West-Knights
Then I went back to my hotel room and was thinking about what people had said about recordings of it and how difficult it is to get. And I played it back and I couldn’t hear it. I don’t know, maybe I didn’t have the right stuff to listen to it with or . . . But yeah, it didn’t surprise me at all that although I did hear it in person, it wasn’t on the tape.

Lilah Raptopoulos
OK. So Imogen didn’t have the best recording technology. She was using her iPhone, but we have the recording and it’s true — at that spot, there’s nothing there, not a hint of anything. But why was she so quick to dismiss herself? She’d heard a sound. She felt it coming up through the ground. And for me, this is where we get into really interesting territory, because this is the part of the story where it becomes about who we believe and whose reality we take seriously. Do we believe Yvonne? Do we believe Imogen? For that matter, does Imogen believe Imogen?

Imogen West-Knights
Obviously, my main goal of this whole trip is to hear this sound. So I was like, am I only hearing it because I’m looking to hear it and trying to hear it? And yeah, at the point at which I thought I could feel it through the floor slightly, I was like, I’m hyperfixating on this now and I need to stop. But I did. I thought I could feel it a little bit in my feet.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Isn’t that wild that you started to distrust yourself as soon as you started to hear the Hum?

Imogen West-Knights
Yeah, I’m sure I must have just sort of ingested so much information about how it was rubbish . . .

Lilah Raptopoulos
Right.

Imogen West-Knights
That I, yeah, immediately was like, oh maybe I want to hear it so much that I’m making it. But it was, you know, it was real.

Lilah Raptopoulos
This question of what we do with invisible suffering, it’s one that actually comes up a lot. There are many chronic pain sufferers. Endometriosis, long Covid, asthma, radiation exposure, mould exposure. A lot of this stuff goes undetected, undiagnosed or not believed. Especially when it’s happening to women, and even more often when it’s happening to women of colour. Imogen’s been reflecting on this as well.

I’m curious what you think this story is about, big picture. There’s, of course, the sound and it’s affecting a small percentage of people. And in some ways it’s a fun and spooky mystery. But what is it like about, about you, you know, having written it, having it published, what do you feel like at its core, it’s about?

Imogen West-Knights
It’s about it’s about believing people. It’s about trusting people’s accounts of their own experiences, which I, I find kind of compelling anyway, because I have a chronic pain condition. There is something so dehumanising and demoralising about being told that what you are reporting is your real life . . .

Lilah Raptopoulos
Hmm.

Imogen West-Knights
Doesn’t exist.

Lilah Raptopoulos
OK. So because we believe these people, we decided to pick up where Imogen left off and keep the investigation going. We gave the recording she took of her and Yvonne walking the dogs and listening for the Hum in her house to our sound engineer, Breen Turner. And what he found didn’t solve the mystery, but it did suggest that something real is out there.

Well, I have exciting news for you. (laughter)

Imogen West-Knights
OK. (laughter)

Lilah Raptopoulos
Which is that you sent us those recordings and we gave them to Breen, our sound engineer. And Breen has been looking at the sound waves through some of those recordings.

Imogen West-Knights
On the recordings?

Lilah Raptopoulos
Yeah. And he’s found some interesting things.

Imogen West-Knights
It’s time to find out if I’m crazy or not. (laughter)

Lilah Raptopoulos
I’m hoping the answer is you’re not crazy. (laughter)

Imogen West-Knights
Me too. Me too. (laughter)

Breen Turner
All right. Can you hear me?

Lilah Raptopoulos
Yeah. This is Breen. He’s from West Yorkshire too, not far from Halifax. He’s a genius and he has a bit of experience with audio forensics. So when we brought the story to him, he went down his own rabbit hole, too. So to set the scene, Breen and Imogen are in London and he’s showing her the visual representation of sound waves that appears in his audio editing software. I’m in New York, but I’m seeing it too, because Breen shared his screen with me.

Breen Turner
So I’ll just start off with what this is, is sort of an entire frequency representation of the audio. So at the top are higher pitched sounds. At the bottom, the lower pitched sounds.

Lilah Raptopoulos
And just for listeners, it looks like fire. Like it looks like we’re looking . . .

Imogen West-Knights
Yeah, it really does. .

Breen Turner
Yeah, it’s called a spectrogram because it represents the entire spectrum of what we can hear. And the brighter points are basically where the sounds are loudest.

Imogen West-Knights
OK.

Breen Turner
But they also represent an area of the frequency spectrum. So if you look here, this is dialogue.

Lilah Raptopoulos
The audio really does look like fire. Most of it is bright orange vertical lines, which represent natural sounds. Yvonne and Imogen walking, talking, the dogs barking, the wind howling. But Breen points to a few spots where there are very clear, strange horizontal lines about the width of a toothpick and they’re crossing through the flames. Those are artificial sounds.

Breen Turner
If I’m looking through one of these recordings, I can see quite quickly, quite easily, if something isn’t dialogue or if it isn’t really natural sound.

Lilah Raptopoulos
We let the natural sound play for a little bit. Imogen’s dialogue with Yvonne. Then Breen goes to a spot in the recording where there’s a horizontal line and he zooms in, so it’s all that we can see. It’s at a point where Imogen and Yvonne are inside the house and when they didn’t think they’d heard the Hum.

Breen Turner
Yeah. So that’s really clearly just basically one frequency. But there is a lot of activity underneath it. So.

[HUM SOUND PLAYING]

That’s what you just heard. But if we just listen to the low end of the scale, make it a little louder.

[HUM SOUND PLAYING]

Lilah Raptopoulos Oh.

Imogen West-Knights
That’s the stuff. That’s it. That’s the noise.

Lilah Raptopoulos
So I got a little excited when I saw that as well.

Lilah Raptopoulos
So again, this is audio of something happening inside the house, when Yvonne and Imogen didn’t hear the Hum. But then Breen goes further down the tape to the place where Yvonne and Imogen did hear the Hum. And there, there’s nothing. No horizontal line. Nothing. Just the normal stuff you see in an audio programme when there’s silence.

Breen Turner
I can’t see anything . . .

(someone whispering ‘No way’)

On the spectrogram. This is most likely just background noise from the recording. I mean, I’m getting noise like this in my headphones right now. That’s just looks like.

[STATIC SOUND PLAYING]

Static on an old television.

Imogen West-Knights
Wow.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Yeah, exactly.

Breen Turner
However, there was also another point which interested me.

[RECORDING PLAYING]

A whole of section of the record, and I’m not even honestly, I’m not sure what you’re talking about at this point, but I believe you’re outside of the house.

[RECORDING PLAYING]

Yvonne speaking to the dog?

Imogen West-Knights
Yeah.

Breen Turner
Can you guess already why this section interests me here?

Imogen West-Knights
Well it’s got that really bright low line there.

Breen Turner
That straight line there.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

Lilah Raptopoulos
In this part of the tape, Imogen and Yvonne are walking the dogs in the valley near a stream. This line is harder to see. It’s lighter in colour, and it looks more like a series of dashes, almost like it’s pulsing.

Breen Turner
You can’t hear anything, though, when I play that back to you. But we can isolate that. And this caught my attention not only because it’s a straight line, but because it intermittently stops and starts. And then we play it in isolation.

[PULSING SOUND PLAYING]

And that seems to continue pretty much throughout this whole section.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Remember, Yvonne does say that the Hum feels like a pulse and that’s what the dashes represent, too. Not a continuous sound, but something going in and out.

Imogen West-Knights
It is broken, isn’t it? That line, it’s like . . .

Breen Turner
Is an oscillation to me. It’s not a continuous sound.

[PULSING SOUND PLAYING]

So to me, that’s, especially because there’s a point when neither of you were focusing on it or listening or convincing each other that you hear it or something like that, I thought that was quite an interesting point.

Imogen West-Knights
Yeah, that is interesting. I got, it’s mad though that it, that it wasn’t in the kitchen or isn’t on the recording in the kitchen.

Breen Turner
Well, we have some low frequency energy in the initial kitchen. However, just because we’ve seen this here, which is around, I think it’s 170 hertz or something like that, there could also be another version of this that’s causing this ringing that could be even lower. This could be like a higher octave.

Imogen West-Knights
Right.

Breen Turner
Of what the sound that is travelling too low for us to become . . .

Imogen West-Knights
Yeah.

Breen Turner
Something like that.

Imogen West-Knights
Because it was an unbelievably low sound. Like . . .

Breen Turner
Hmm.

Imogen West-Knights
I described it in the piece, it’s more like eardrum pressure. It’s so low.

Breen Turner
Earlier you mentioned that some people say it sounds like a car accelerating towards them, but never quite reaching. So there is a phenomenon called a Shepard tone, which is where you have multiple sounds that are an octave apart each. If you change that in pitch, it can give the impression of the sound constantly rising, but never reaching.

Imogen West-Knights
Oh, I’ve heard, I’ve seen that before. It’s really weird.

Breen Turner
It’s used a lot in film composing, sound design, especially over the last 15 years. It sounds like it constantly rises and never quite reaches and it’s very unsettling. So that is just wild conjecture from me.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Breen has a few other theories. He’s from the area and he says that the climate can be odd around there because of all the valleys. It causes a lot of strange wind. He’s noticed there’s a wind farm in the area that was upgraded within the past few years and he wonders if that might coincide.

Imogen West-Knights
Yeah, I wondered wind farm when I was there because obviously there’s you can see some wind turbines. But then I spoke to this guy, Glen MacPherson, who’s done more than most people ever looking into this. And he was very firm. He was like, it’s not wind turbines.

Lilah Raptopoulos
But who knows? The fact that most wind turbines don’t cause a hum, does it mean that all wind turbines don’t cause a hum? And something is making those lines on Breen’s editing software, which means the people hearing the Hum, why dismiss them?

Breen Turner
I do think Yvonne and other listeners should feel like there’s potentially some vindication.

Imogen West-Knights
Right. Yeah. Well, this is so frustrating, I guess, for them. And I got a tiny flavour of it when the piece went out, as well as people getting in touch, being like, it’s all nonsense. Like they’re hysterical women. It’s, you know. Which must be so demoralising when you hear it. When you hear the sound and people are telling you, you do not hear the sound. Yeah, I hope they do. Ha. I hope they, I mean, apart from anything else, it’s just annoying not to have an answer to something mysterious, you know?

Breen Turner
Hmm.

Lilah Raptopoulos
How are you feeling right now, Imogen, having seen this?

Imogen West-Knights
(Sighs) I am annoyed because I know I’m really interested in it again. (laughter) I feel like I’m gonna go back to square one with it. I think I need to leave the rabbit hole alone is probably the truth because people do seriously spend their lives trying to work out what this thing is, and it hasn’t been very fruitful so far.

Lilah Raptopoulos
Imogen, thank you so much for being on the show.

Imogen West-Knights
Thank you. Thanks so much for having me again.

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Lilah Raptopoulos
That’s the show this week. Thank you for listening to FT weekend, the podcast from the Financial Times. Do keep in touch. I love hearing from you. You can email us at FTWeekendPodcast@FT.com, or on Twitter @FTWeekendPod, and you can find me mostly on Instagram and sometimes on Twitter @LilahRap. If you want to do one thing to support the show this week, share it with two people who love podcasts and you think might love the show. As always, our show notes are full of great stuff. There are links to everything mentioned, including Imogen’s magazine piece, and of course I have excellent offers for you on a subscription to the FT if you’d like to support our journalism and get access to all of our reporting. Those offers are at FT.com/WeekendPodcast. Make sure to use that link. It’s in the show notes.

I’m Lilah Raptopoulos and here is my exceptional team. Katya Kumkova is our senior producer with additional help from George Drake, Jr. Lulu Smyth is our assistant producer and Breen Turner is our sound engineer, with original music by Metaphor Music. Topher Forhecz is our executive producer and special thanks go to Cheryl Brumley and Renée Kaplan. Stay well and we’ll find each other again next week.

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