The silence in the quietest room in the world can be deafening.
In 2015, Microsoft created an anechoic chamber at their headquarters in Redmond, Washington, which has been recognized by Guinness World Records as the quietest place on Earth, with an average background noise reading of -20.35 dBA.
Spending time in this ultra-quiet environment is not as serene as one might expect.
Only a few brave souls have been able to endure the quietude of the anechoic chamber for an extended period of time, with most lasting no more than an hour.
The absence of external noise amplifies the sounds of one’s own body, from the faint thud of the heartbeat to the grinding of bones and the flow of blood. It’s a surreal experience that few can tolerate for long.
The main purpose of the anechoic chamber is not to achieve complete silence, but rather to eliminate all external noise and allow for the detection of the body’s internal sounds.
However, even in the quietest room on Earth, the human body is never truly silent, as the sounds of bodily functions persist until death.
Contrary to popular belief, environments that we consider quiet, such as a library reading room, are actually louder than the threshold of human hearing, which is around 0 decibels.
The anechoic chamber, with its ultra-low noise level, can lead to a heightened awareness of bodily sounds, accompanied by an uncomfortable ringing in the ears as the absence of external noise becomes overwhelming.
The construction of the anechoic chamber is a marvel of engineering.
It took two years to design the space, which is made up of six layers of concrete and steel, and is isolated from the surrounding building to minimize external noise.
Vibration-damping springs are installed below the chamber, and fiberglass wedges are mounted on the floor, ceiling, and walls to absorb sound waves and prevent them from bouncing back into the room.
Interestingly, there is another contender vying for the title of the quietest room in the world. Orfield Laboratories in Minneapolis claims to have achieved a measurement of “-24.9 dBA” in their anechoic chamber, surpassing Microsoft’s record. Steven J. Orfield, who designed the space, has submitted an application to Guinness World Records to reclaim the title. Guinness has confirmed receipt of the submission and is currently assessing the evidence and testing criteria.
While the quietest room in the world may seem like a haven of peace and tranquility, the reality is that the absence of external noise can intensify the sounds of our own bodies, leading to discomfort and disorientation.
Spending time in the anechoic chamber is not for the faint of heart, and only a few have been able to endure the complete silence for more than an hour.