NASA heads to a lab in Minnesota to put astronauts through acoustic torture tests.
If you were in a crowded airport, sporting event, or even the child’s birthday party recently, some peace and quiet might look like the perfect thing to help you relax. Just do not let things get too quiet, or you could drive a little crazy: the anechoic chamber in Orfield Laboratories in Minnesota can cut 99.99% of all sounds, but visiting the oasis silence is not as soothing as might be expected.
The room holds the current Guinness world record as the quietest place on the planet, and businesses around the world looking to its unique acoustic properties. The chamber walls are lined with acoustical baffles that can capture the sound and cut in an instant. This allows businesses, both Whirlpool and Harley-Davidson visited – to test how loud that their products are safe from outside interference.
But while the super-quiet oasis is an ideal test bed for different products, it holds a darker side: the silence, it turns out, can put great pressure on the human brain. Researchers at NASA to test the capabilities of the room acoustic unique human beings rather than hardware. Silence is used to simulate the silence of space – an environment that astronauts would be well served to get used to.
What they found is that when all the outside noise is removed from a pregnant human hearing will do its best to find something to listen to. In a room where almost 100% of muted, people start to hear things like their own heartbeat to a volume considerably amplified. As the minutes passed in absolute quiet, the human mind begins to lose its grip, causing test subjects to hallucinate.
NASA then monitors how the supposedly react space explorers, and if they can go beyond the very obvious awkwardness of seeing or hearing things that do not really exist. Laboratory officials said, the longest anyone has lasted for 45 minutes before being allowed to hear soft sounds of Planet Earth once again.
Ultimately, the room proved a valuable scientific, simply did not intend to rent it for a little peace and quiet – it may do more harm than good.