Can Silence Actually Drive You Crazy?
I am going to scream as loud as I can and
I am going to keep screaming as loud as I can while I spin around. I will keep going
until my breath runs out.>>Great.>>You ready?>>Yeah.>>Ok [Screams]>>That was outstanding. Thank you.>>Thank you.>>The quietest place on earth is apparently
an anechoic chamber in Minneapolis. Now I am here at BYU at their anechoic chamber.
Anechoic is Latin and basically means no echo. And the way they achieve no echo is through
all of these foam wedges which are put on the wall and even the floor. You can see
that I am actually on a spring floor and down below me there are all of these wedges. Now you may want to use headphones while you
are listening to this video, because that is going to be quite important.>>Low frequency sound will come in and, by
the shape of it, bounce and just keep bouncing pretty much forever until it just gets lost
in the wall. And then high frequencies are more so going to get absorbed into the foam
itself.>>You can hear how the room deadens echoes
by clapping constantly while closing the doors. [Clapping] It totally changes the quality of the sound.
>>Definitely.>>There are reports that it is impossible
to stay in one of these rooms and remain sane for a significant period of time. The record
is apparently 45 minutes.>>I felt a little claustrophobic. And yet, it
felt like there is a lot of pressure on my head.>>But why would that be? I mean, the air
is no different in here.>>What I figured is just because when you
listen in a normal room there is a lot of reverb. To your ear that means there is a
lot of space, but there is none of that in here, so it feels claustrophobic.>>It feels like you are in a tiny room, like
you could be in a coffin.>>Yeah, maybe, yeah.>>I think it is really an anxiety response.
So you are used to having these sounds around you and then you don’t anymore and so you
start to panic, because you don’t have something you are used to, and I think that anxiety can
increase, cause some stress, and maybe that’s why people go crazy or hallucinate with
sound. It is just because they are trying to make up for what they are used to that
isn’t there.>>When I bring people in I warn them: Hey,
if you get a little dizzy, please let me know, so I can get you out of the room before you
make a mess in our expensive facilities.>>First you will hear any rustle of your
clothing. So you move an inch and you will hear it. Then you will hear any fluids that
are in your mouth or your throat. You’ll hear them all moving around every time you
move your mouth. And the longer you stay there the more you will hear. So you will start
to hear the blood flow through your brain.>>Have you heard it?>>Yeah. It sounds kind of like a ringing
or a pulsing.>>Can you kind of make the sound for us so
that we know what to listen in for?>>Of the blood flow?>>Yeah, like…>>It just sounds like a pulsing, like, shh,
shh, shh. Some people say they can hear their heart
beat coming from their chest as well.>>Have you heard that?>>No.>>A violinist placed in one of these rooms
was apparently banging on the door within a matter of seconds trying to get out. Now
that people say it’s impossible to stand up because you become so disoriented, dizzy, nauseous. And some people even hear oral hallucinations. But to me it doesn’t sound right. You know,
I believe that I should be able to sit in a room with no sound with the lights off for
as long as I like. And so I am going to put myself to the test by staying in this room
for as long as I can.>>Have fun in silence.>>Thank you. Now it is just me in the anechoic chamber.
And this is probably the quietest place I have ever been. And in a second I will tell the
guys, shut the lights off. Ok, I think… Oh. I am ready. And the lights are off. I’m going
to turn off the camera so I don’t have this light and then there is only the
audio recorder that I will keep with me. I’m not sure how long I have been in here,
but I still feel quite comfortable. It’s nice and quiet. I mean, that is an understatement.
But it’s relaxing. If I hear anything, I feel like I hear a low pitched hum. If I have to guess as to how long I have been
in here I would say about eight minutes. I feel like I am more aware of my heart. I
can feel each pulse, and I can almost feel it radiating up my chest towards my head, like a wave. And in my ears there’s a hiss.
I think that is just… from hearing loss. This just reminds me of that Mission Impossible
movie where Tom Cruise sneaks into that building and he has to keep his decibel level low. [Quiet burp] That was a burp. I don’t know if you could
hear that. I can say the really small sounds seem amplified.
It is like your brain has recalibrated, so the quiet things seem much louder. I feel like I can feel more things like… with every beat of my heart it feels like… my body shakes a little bit… like a device that has
a little motor inside of it. How it gets shook around like a thumb. Ok, Cameron, looks to me like we are good
for time. If it looks the same to you like we are around 46 minutes or over, I am happy
to hop out. So, yeah, when you are ready you could flip the lights back on if you like.
Are you there? Hello? I think I have been in here for nearly
an hour according to my time checks. And I didn’t fall asleep, I just, you know,
I have had a good time. It is a nice quiet space. I kind of feel like this would be a
good material to pad your bedroom in. Not a problem. Anechoic chamber, 45 minutes, an
hour. Easy. I could stay in here for five hours. I think I could get a lot of work done
in here. So now I just have to get out. And I am going
to see if I can exit this room without them turning the lights on. Even the doors are nice and quiet. There we are.
Back to the outside world. Hello, how are you doing?
>>You alive?>>I am. I don’t really understand how anyone could go crazy in there. I mean, quiet is kind of nice. But then again there are people who find all sorts of situations
really uncomfortable like just being in pitch black room or being in a small confined space.
So maybe those types of people would find this kind of unnerving. I definitely noticed that there were a lot
of noises. Like it wasn’t just pure silence. Like I actually have to work hard to make
things feel silent. Otherwise, you know, there was the sound of like me just rubbing my beard
or just like the rustle of your clothes or every time you swallow or you breathe. Perhaps
the weirdest thing I noticed was like my sense of my heart. I just felt like it was pumping
really hard, and I could feel almost like the blood pushing up through me. It wasn’t like
I was hearing it. It was just like I was feeling it. And I was feeling it as though, in a way,
my heart was shaking my body. That was something weird. But besides that, nothing crazy, no weird hallucinations
or anything like that. So I think the myth that you can’t stay
in here for longer than 45 minutes is busted, even though this is not Myth Busters. I still
think it is not true. Now if you really hate silence, you should
always carry an audio book around with you. And I can recommend a good one: The Fault
in our Stars by my friend John Green. It is an excellent book and it has been basically
the talk of the best sellers ever since it was released. And soon there is a movie coming
out and so you probably want to get through the book before you go and see the movie.
Now you can download this book for free by going to Audible.com/Veritasium. Or you could
pick any other book of your choosing for a one month free trial. Audible is an amazing
site with over 150,000 titles in all areas of literature including fiction, non-fiction,
and periodicals. So you should check them out. The link is in the doobly-doo, as John
would say. So I would like to thank Audible for supporting
me and I would like to thank you for watching.