June 22, 2021

How quiet is the quietest place in the world?

It is not easy to calm yourself down, especially in such a fast-paced modern society, where noise is everywhere.

In fact, in the face of external noise, both your brain and ears are in a relatively tense state. The brain needs to process and filter sound information, and there is always a certain amount of air pressure on the tympanic membrane of the ear.

So, what if we go to a very, very quiet place, so quiet that the air pressure on our tympanic membrane disappears?

There really is such a place in the world. It is located in a room at the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Washington. It is rated as the quietest place in the world by the Guinness Book of World Records.

This is actually an “anechoic room” designed by Microsoft designer Hundraj Gopal. All the sounds of the external world are locked out, and any sounds emitted from the interior are also absorbed. Any echoes.

The measurement result of the noise level in this room is -20.3 decibels. We know that the smallest sound that human ears can hear is almost 0 decibels, which means that the noise level in this room is not effective for people.

It’s just that when you really escape all the noise and enter this room, it will not bring you comfort, but (supposedly) a feeling of being buried alive in a coffin.

The feeling of being in a negative decibel room

I have seen many people saying that standing alone in this room will not hear their own voice, which is a bit out of context.

In this room, as long as you get used to it for a while, your ears will hear the threshold of human voices, but many familiar voices become unfamiliar.

Simply put, if you stay for long enough (after getting used to it), you will start to hear your heartbeat, and the sound of lung activity is clearly visible; when you move, you will hear the sound of bone rubbing.

If you are a person with tinnitus, your tinnitus will become deafening.

Since there is almost no echo, any sounds that you usually make (such as talking and clapping hands) will become very strange and terrifying.

How to muffle the room?

In order to achieve extreme quietness, the room is designed as an onion-like structure, and the room is isolated from the rest of the building and the outside world.

It is composed of six layers of concrete and steel, and sits on a series of damping springs, making it look a little out of touch with the surrounding buildings.

Indoors, fiberglass wedges are installed on the floor, ceiling, and walls to break down sound waves before they bounce back into the room. In addition, the floor itself is also a row of sound-absorbing suspension cables.

According to Gopal’s interview report, the design, planning and construction of this room took a little more than a year and a half. Every detail is done very well, and finally the indoor noise is controlled at 20.3 decibels lower than the human hearing threshold.

Our calm breathing is almost 10 decibels, so when we are in this room, our breathing and other sounds higher than 0 decibels can be easily heard.

Terrible lights out

In 2015, Microsoft set up a similar room in Orfield Labs in Minneapolis, but the difference from the one in Microsoft headquarters is that this room is open to the public, which makes it change It has become a small tourist attraction, as long as you spend money you can go in and experience it.

I also checked the price. If you enter briefly with a guide, it is $125 per person. If you want to participate in the “Ofield Challenge”-that is, if you enter alone, it will cost $600 per hour.

However, everyone’s experience is different.

According to Orfield, the experience of entering the “anechoic room” depends to a certain extent on the influence of the noise environment before entering the room, because these will affect your perception of quietness.

Another point is age, because a person’s hearing quality changes with age. The older you are, the more difficult it is to adapt and fully appreciate this quietness.

There is also a “service” in this room in the Orfield Lab, which is to turn off the lights and experience the real quietness.

It is believed that in this case, walking indoors will make most people lose their balance in a short period of time. This is not to say that you can’t walk in a straight line, but that it’s hard to move.

Because when the lights are turned off, most of the human senses are deprived, and it will be difficult for you to judge where to go and how to step, even if the ground is flat.

I saw that there are several interesting tips in the official instructions of Orfield Lab. In this room, it is very helpful for tourists with autism, ADHD and other anxiety. They will experience peace and peace like never before.

But I think this is a gimmick. After all, people rely on this to make money.

What is this room used for?

The purpose of this kind of room originally designed is certainly not to put it into use for tourists, it has certain scientific research value.

Microsoft uses this room for testing their electronic products. For example, the effect detection of audio equipment such as microphones, receivers, earphones and speakers, as well as the analysis of the click sounds and other noises of computer equipment such as keyboards, mice, fans, and touch screens.

In addition, this room of the Orfield Laboratory is the only independent laboratory in the United States that is certified and open to the outside world, so it also attracts other companies and products, such as medical equipment, auto parts, electrical appliances, etc., will come here for testing.

At last

Many people on the Internet say that the Guinness World Record for staying in this room is 45 minutes.

Well, this is a rumor.

It is said that Orfield Lab receives emails from many people every day because of this rumor, they want to challenge the “World Record”, but the fact is that there is no such Guinness World Record, and the official does not encourage such a challenge.

As for how did 45 minutes come?

This may be a response from the spokesperson of Orfield Laboratories: I only stayed in this room for 45 minutes, because I have a mechanical heart valve, and I can always hear it clearly.

However, according to the confirmation of the room designer Gopal, the longest duration of people in the meeting room is 55 minutes, and most of them can’t hold on at 30 minutes, and the shortest can only last a few seconds.

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