The most silent room on Earth can make people inside go crazy

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At Orfield Labs in Minneapolis, there is a room where silence exceeds the limits of human perception. The site is known as the “anechoic chamber”, because all sounds from the outside world are blocked and any sounds generated inside are locked out.

Many people think that this place is so quiet that they can hear their own blood flowing in their body or even “go crazy” because the absolute lack of sound will destroy people’s perception of space.

The room causes “fever”

This room has received more attention recently, when TikTok and YouTube users spread that the person who stayed in this room alone for a few hours would receive a prize of up to 7 million USD. This has created a “craze” on the Internet.

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Steven J. Orfield, founder of Orfield Labs. Image: Alec Soth.

Orfield Labs has since been receiving calls and emails from people wanting to try their hand at winning the prize money. The lab later confirmed there were no contests related to the room.

However, the mystery of the room continues to make many people curious. So the company advertised a service called the “Orfield Challenge”. Accordingly, with 600 USD/hour, people can experience this room and try to set a new record. Currently, the longest time a person spends in a room is 2 hours.

“We get thousands of requests. The public comes to visit the room from all over the world almost every week and they’re always excited about the experience,” said Steve Orfield, who built Orfield Labs and the bounce-back their own tone, said.

In 2004, Guinness World Records certified the anechoic chamber at Orfield Labs as the quietest place on Earth, with a sound level of –9.4 decibels. But in 2015, the title belonged to a similar room at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington.

We receive thousands of requests from all over the world

Steven J. Orfield, founder of Orfield Labs

According to the official Guinness World Records, tests carried out at the site “gave an average noise reading of –20.35 decibels”, 7.35 decibels lower than Orfield Labs.

Although Microsoft’s achievement was advertised by Guinness as “increasing brand awareness” for corporate customers, a representative for Guinness denied that Microsoft had leveraged their services to set the record.

Purpose of anechoic chamber

In 1943, the US Army began to develop a device called “Ghost Army”. This is a system of giant speakers so powerful that the sound emitted can fool the enemy into thinking that thousands of American soldiers are present at that location.

However, this device cannot be tested because the sound is too loud, which will scare the people around.

So, scientists at Harvard University’s Electroacoustic Laboratory set out to test nearly 1,000 shapes and materials to choose a specimen with the best sound absorption capabilities. In the end, the scientists chose a wedge plate made of fiberglass.

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Scientists tested a loudspeaker in a Harvard anechoic chamber in 1948. Photo: Harvard University.

Orfield Labs’ chamber uses the same material. All the walls, floor and ceiling of the chamber are lined with fiberglass wedge panels nearly 100 cm thick. Next, the six sides of the chamber are covered with steel plates up to 10 cm thick. The outermost is a layer of concrete 30 cm thick.

Since then, Mr. Orfield has reassembled the room and put it to use for his clients. According to him, echo prevention is often used to test noise and acoustics emitted by a variety of products with high scientific confidence.

The room then attracted many different types of businesses and products to the test, such as medical defibrillators, sleep apnea monitors, hearing aids, heart valves, auto parts, machines. computer and hard drive.

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The anechoic chamber at Orfield Labs, the room known as the quietest place on Earth. Image: Orfield Labs.

Before rumors of the anechoic room spread across social media platforms, Mr Orfield organized public tours for donors. 20 USD for a local grocery store.

However, when the room became a worldwide phenomenon, he decided to use it to make money.

“Becoming famous brings a lot of trouble. So we decided to change a few things after about 5 years to let people visit the room almost free, “said Mr. Orfield.

Break the rumors

Some believe that anechoic chambers can drive people crazy because “the only thing you can hear is the sounds coming from your own body. It’s the sound of clothes, breathing, heartbeat and even the sound of blood flowing in the brain.”

In the end, participants will panic and lose their balance, because the absolute silence environment will destroy people’s perception of space.

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Many rumors say that this room can make people inside go crazy if left for too long. Image: Orfield Labs.

According to experts at Orfield Labs, rooms that are rated as super quiet usually have a noise level of about 20 to 30 decibels, slightly higher than the minimum human hearing threshold of 0 decibels. A library reading room has a volume of about 40 decibels.

The room won’t drive you crazy unless you have a history of mental illnesses

Dr. Barbara Shinn-Cunningham

After the Orfield Labs room became famous, Dr. Barbara Shinn-Cunningham, director of the Institute of Neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University, explained the rumors that the anechoic chamber could cause people to experience. “crazy”.

“The answer is no, unless you have a history of mental illness,” Cunningham said.

Dr Oliver Mason, a researcher in psychiatric disorders at the University of Surrey and the lead author of studies that tracked the human experience in an echo chamber, also denied these rumors.

According to Mr. Mason, while being isolated in a completely silent room will not drive people crazy, in some cases, research subjects can see hallucinations.

“The human brain is always trying to distinguish the surrounding environment by perception. So when all perception is taken away, the brain will try to generate some signal to help us protect ourselves.” Mr. Mason explained.

According to him, even if the subject has no history of mental illness, hallucinations will appear in some people much more quickly than in others.

“The experimental results show that most people can withstand about 20 minutes in an environment of absolute silence. Individuals with a history of “perceptual disturbances” often develop delusions and hallucinations before events that have not yet been discovered. happened,” continued Dr.

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