I have heard of unidentifiable sound causing widespread anxiety in
America, possibly the midwest.
Mysterious maddening buzzing probed in southwest Germany
Wednesday, August 22 11:00 AM SGT
Mysterious maddening buzzing probed in southwest Germany
KARLSRUHE, Germany, Aug 22 (AFP) -
Hundreds of people in Germany's southwest are being driven to
distraction by a mysterious nocturnal buzzing noise -- seriously enough
for the local authorities to decide to investigate the matter
Many have been complaining of racing pulse and fatigue along with a
sense of excitation and uncontrollable muscle quivering during their
"Often at night I feel as if my bed were electrically charged. The
pillow, the mattress and my whole body vibrate, and the only thing you
want to do is to be able to turn off that sound," said one of the
sufferers, Carmen Mischke.
From Lake Constance to Heidelberg, the environment department of the
Baden-Wuerttemberg state government has been hearing similar stories
from people over nearly 24 months.
Now the authorities have commissioned the physicist Henriche Menges to
take a closer look at ten out of 300 homes which have reported the
If one were to believe the authors of the German website
www.raum-und-zeit.de, the source of the mysterious buzzing sound in the
ears of afflicted citizens is a US military project named HAARP based in
There the US military are supposed to have built a kind of giant energy
accelerator whose electro-magnetic waves could be used as a super-weapon
to "make a nation dance on one leg" or drive a whole city of people
Menges has no time right now for such fantastic-sounding theories. "We
are starting off with the likelier explanations and leaving the more
speculative ones aside," he answered politely when asked what he thought
about that particular idea.
The scientist is tracking down the buzzing equipped with a microphone
and sensors able to detect low-frequency vibrations.
He said that such deep buzzing sounds could come from diesel motors,
aircraft, waterfalls or compressors as used in refrigerators and
air-conditioning equipment. But wind blowing over chimneys could also
act as a giant organ pipe, he said.
The human ear can detect sounds as low as 20-40 hertz, and the
microphone Menges and his team are using can detect sounds as low as
eight hertz, while the vibration sensors are sensitive to as low as
This is important because human internal organs are sensitive to
vibrations as low as between six to 12 hertz and can detect them.
Menges believes that the buzzing or booming is due to sound waves
because of the sensitivity of people's ears and abdomens to them. He has
ruled out electromagnetic waves such as those emitted by portable
telephones because they are nothing like enough intense enough.
Low-frequency sound waves on the other hand can be propagated over a
distance of kilometres (miles) and can even pass through thick concrete,
making identification of the source difficult.
Work in Germany on measuring the phenomenon is expected to continue into
Whether the mystery will be elucidated is uncertain, even for Menges. A
similar one in the small town of Taos in the US state of New Mexico was
investigated in the early 1990s without result, he pointed out.
A "Working Group for Investigation of the Buzzing Sound", which says
people in the Saarland and North Rhine-Westphalia regions of western
Germany have had similar experiences, reckons that the cause is likely
due to low-frequency sound vibrations.
However it says that a "very long-frequency electro-magnetic field" of
between 0.5 to 50 hertz has also been measured in the region and could
point to an explanation.
The working group has a website with the address www.ohr-geraeusch.de .
A story that adds an especially alien quality to already fascinating
Starfish Acts As Array of Lenses
By WILLIAM McCALL
Associated Press Writer
August 22, 2001
Rows of tiny crystals that armor the skeleton of a certain kind of
starfish act as an array of microscopic lenses that would be difficult
for even the best engineer to duplicate, researchers say. The high
optical quality of the microlenses in the brittlestar could help
scientists design better computers or better telecommunications
networks, according to scientists at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, N.J. They
identified the lenses after marine biologists noted the brittlestar
appeared to be using the wrong kind of camouflage. The creature would
turn dark during the day, making it more visible to predators, and would
turn whitish gray at night, again making it more noticeable
"So it's just the opposite of what you expect to hide from predators,"
said Joanna Aizenberg, who led the study at Bell Labs. Instead of trying
to camouflage themselves, the brittlestars were using their microlenses
as a sophisticated system to sense light in order to navigate and avoid
The lens system turned the brittlestars lighter at night to increase
their sensitivity. During the day, they turned darker to cope with the
The shape of the crystals helped focus the light extremely precisely,
"We were quite surprised to observe that not only do they focus light,
but the characteristics of these tiny lenses are far beyond anything we
can imagine currently manufacturing," she said. The unique spherical
shape of the microscopic lenses may have applications for electronic and
computer design, or may help produce superior optics that can adapt to
changing conditions, she said. Her study, which appears Thursday in the
journal Nature, noted the calcium carbonate crystals -- or calcite --
also provide structural support for the brittlestar skeleton.
The lens design could prove especially useful for optical computers --
machines which use changes in light to store data instead of movement of
electrons across a silicon wafer or circuit, according to another
researcher. Light comes in packets of energy called photons. "At some
point we'd like to have optical computers, but to get to that point we
have to move photons with the sophistication we now move electrons, and
we aren't able to do it yet," said Sonke Johnsen, a biologist at the
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Mass.
Johnsen said the latest research on the brittlestar's light-sensing
ability helps explain why the creature can move so quickly to evade a
threat, unlike other forms of starfish.
"They are really active, clever and fast animals," Johnsen said. "You'd
have to work hard underwater to catch one."
On the Net:
Bell Labs: http://www.lucent.com