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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

Emerging Science Note/Infrasound

Air Date: Week of September 26, 2003

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Living on Earth’s Cynthia Graber reports on research showing that extremely low sound vibrations called infrasound may lead to strange emotional and physical responses.

Transcript

CURWOOD: Just ahead: The irony in a bridge that may disconnect a people from their culture. First, this Note on Emerging Science from Cynthia Graber.

[EMERGING SCIENCE THEME]

GRABER: An odd feeling in the pit of your stomach. A sense that someone is watching you. Chills down your spine. Scientists say these often-inexplicable emotions might that e explained by infrasound.

Infrasound is extreme low frequency sound played at levels most human can’t hear. To test the effects on infrasound on humans, a team of scientists in England used a pipe to create a twenty-hertz tone. Then, they reproduced the tone during a concert, mixing it in and out of the contemporary music being played on stage. Almost a quarter of the 750 people in the audience reported strange feelings during the pieces that included infrasound, such as a sensation of sorrow or fear, or getting chills.

Scientists don’t know exactly how infrasound causes these responses. The psychologist on the team says emotional responses might occur when the brain tries to interpret low frequency sounds. Volcanoes and earthquakes, for example, make infrasound when active. But to understand why some people have physical responses, such as feeling hot or cold sensations, the researchers have invited a physiologist to join the continuing study.

That’s this week’s Note on Emerging Science. I’m Cynthia Graber.

[EMERGING SCIENCE THEME]

CURWOOD: And you're listening to Living on Earth.

[MUSIC: Various Artists “Til’ The Morning Comes” PICKIN ON NEIL YOUNG – A TRIBUTE (No Label)]

 

 

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