Although most don't hear it, the Earth has a hum that some people all over the world are sensitive to. It is most often unexplained and maddening, but now scientists believe they have an answer to where it comes from: ocean waves.

In fact, some of these people are so constantly inundated with that hum that they've claimed everything from headaches, nosebleeds and undue stress because of it.

According to Live Science, people first reported about hearing the hum in 1950s. Generally, those who hear it are usually indoors and it bothers them more at night than day. Generally speaking, those in cities hear it less, which makes sense because cities have an ambient noise all their own.

Although some people hearing the hum probably have tinnitus, scientists have also blamed outside factors, such as industrial equipment, gas and electric lines and wireless communication devices. However, those never fully explained the phenomenon.

Eventually, scientists started looking at more natural occurrences, including low-frequency electromagnetic radiation, something some people are more attuned to hearing. And again, science has proven that these people, and the hum they hear, exist.

Now, though, scientists believe that ocean waves are the culprit behind the hum. Scientists Fabrice Ardhuin, Lucia Gualtieri and Eleonore Stutzmann recently published a paper in Geophysical Research Letters explaining their theory after they did extensive computer modeling of the ocean, wind and sea currents that cause "microseismic activity." This activity is often recorded all over the world.

Basically, when the waves hit the ocean floor, their pressure is so large that it causes the ground there to vibrate. Researchers believe this is the source of the hum that some people hear.

"We have made a big step in explaining this mysterious signal and where it is coming from and what is the mechanism," says Ardhuin.

So although some entertain notions of aliens and other conspiracy theories, the hum is actually coming from a very natural occurrence.

Of course, understanding the hum also means that we have a better understanding of the Earth's interior. These vibrations go deep into the Earth's mantle, maybe even as far as the core. This research also offers solutions in how to look for even more fainter vibrations, allowing for a better detection of earthquakes.

"I think it is a relief to the seismologists," says Ardhuin. "Now we know where this ringing comes from and the next question is: what can we do with it?"

[Photo Credit: Dennis Hill | Flickr]

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