The Blog Roll
Tuesday / May 29 / 2012
The Worlds Quietest Room
It’s amazing how sound can affect you. The way you take in your surroundings, perceive something, and relate the visual cues you see to the sounds produced, but if there was nothing to hear? How would your brain react to this lack of sound? They say silence is golden, but is it really? The world’s quietest room begs to differ.
The room, the “anechoic chamber” at Orfield Laboratories in South Minneapolis, manages to block out 99.9% of all external sound, giving it the Guinness World Record for the quietest room in the world. It achieves this incredible feet with 3.3-foot-thick fiberglass acoustic wedges placed on walls made of insulated steel and a foot of concrete. That’s some heavy insulation! The term anechoic itself means neither having nor producing echoes. The chamber is used by a multitude of manufacturers, which test how loud their products are. Stephen Orfield, The President of the lab says ‘It's used for formal product testing, for research into the sound of different things - heart valves, the sound of the display of a cell phone, the sound of a switch on a car dashboard.’ It’s also used by companies interested in the sound quality of their products. Take for example Harley Davidson, who used the lab recently to test the noise produced by their new motors. We all know that Harley roar, it’s an iconic feature of the bike. Harley Davidson came to the lab to find a way to make their motors quieter, while still keeping that iconic hearty noise. The room allowed for real analysis into the sound given off by the engine without any outside interference.
Product testing is not the room’s only use however. Mr.Orfield says ‘We challenge people to sit in the chamber in the dark - one reporter stayed in there for 45 minutes. When it’s quiet, ears will adapt. The quieter the room, the more things you hear. You'll hear your heart beating, sometimes you can hear your lungs, hear your stomach gurgling loudly. In the anechoic chamber, you become the sound.’ Without the everyday sound clues to help orientate yourself, the brain starts to take over, creating sounds, and hallucinating. ‘How you orient yourself is through sounds you hear when you walk. In the anechnoic chamber, you don't have any cues. You take away the perceptual cues that allow you to balance and manoeuvre. If you're in there for half an hour, you have to be in a chair.’ says Mr.Orfield.
NASA uses a similar room for preparing astronauts for the soundless nature of space, after all, space is like one big anechoic chamber. It’s amazing to think how all the subtle sounds that we take for granted help us keep from going insane! Maybe peace and quiet isn’t all it’s cracked up to be!
Click the image below to visit the Orfield Labs website to find out more....