Infrasound and Paranormal Activity: Are They Connected?

By: Diana Brown  | 
paranormal activity
Some theorize that sound waves with frequencies inaudible by humans, also known as infrasound, could explain paranormal activity like noises, feelings of fear and blurred vision. Jing Yang/EyeEm/Getty Images

Ghosts have intrigued and mystified humankind for centuries. The first recorded references to ghosts can be traced back to the epic Gilgamesh, a literary masterpiece dating between 2150 and 1400 B.C.E. As for today, two out of five Americans believe in ghosts, and one in five claim to have encountered one.

The allure of the paranormal raises numerous questions. Are ghosts real, or are they intricately tied to religious beliefs and folklore? Could there be a scientific explanation for the mysterious occurrences that defy our understanding of the world around us? In this exploration, we aim to shed light on the fascinating connection between infrasound, the enigmatic realm of paranormal activity, and whether there might be more to it than meets the eye.


Understanding Infrasound

To embark on this journey, we need to understand a phenomenon known as infrasound. Infrasound refers to low-frequency sound where the rate of vibration is below the threshold of human hearing. Its range of frequencies is so deep that we can't detect it through our ears alone.


The Science of Sound Pressure Levels and High Intensity Infrasound

The interplay of sound pressure and infrasound is a critical aspect of understanding the profound influence of these low-frequency waves. As infrasound is a realm of very low-frequency sound where the rate of vibration is below the threshold of human hearing, its effects on our perception and environment depend heavily on the intensity of infrasound.

Infrasound covers a wide frequency range, extending from below 20 Hertz (Hz), known as infrasound to 200 Hz, known as low-frequency sound. Humans typically can't hear these very low frequencies, but at significant noise levels, they may perceive infrasound. This enigmatic realm often dwells beneath the surface of our audible sound perception, making it an intriguing area of study.


The Subtle Power of Infrasonic Waves

Nature, a prolific composer of infrasound, produces these inaudible waves through storms, seasonal winds, weather patterns, and geological events like earthquakes. However, the natural world is not alone in generating naturally occurring infrasound. The animal kingdom, including elephants, whales, and giraffes, has harnessed these low-frequency waves for long-distance communication and even to deter enemies.

On the human side, our actions, from nuclear explosions to the hum of engines and airplanes, contribute to the infrasound symphony. What's particularly fascinating about man-made infrasound is its ability to propagate over great distances with minimal attenuation. These diverse sources of infrasound shape our environment, and distinguishing between them is crucial, as it influences our responses to these intriguing and often imperceptible phenomena.


Ghostly Encounters: A Scientific Perspective

The connection between infrasound and paranormal activity begins to come into focus when we consider the experience of engineer Vic Tandy. In 1980, while working in a laboratory that had an eerie reputation, Tandy noticed a series of strange phenomena. People often reported feeling anxious and uncomfortable within its confines, and Tandy himself claimed to have witnessed an apparition.

One day, Tandy observed a fencing foil clamped in a vise inexplicably vibrating. Upon investigation, he traced the source of the disturbance to a nearby fan emitting noise at a frequency of 19 Hz. When the fan was switched off, the noise ceased, and the feelings of discomfort disappeared. Tandy concluded that these low-frequency vibrations caused symptoms like blurred vision, dizziness, and fear in humans.


What's more, another illustrative example comes from a 14th-century pub cellar in Coventry. The cellar was long reputed to be haunted by a grey lady, where tales of terror have echoed through the years. Here, Vic Tandy's pioneering research extended further, revealing a 19 Hz standing wave. This discovery lends substantial weight to his hypothesis that infrasound plays a pivotal role in these eerie encounters.

Revisiting Hauntings: A New Perspective

Tandy's groundbreaking experiment left us with an intriguing possibility: some reported hauntings may be attributed to infrasound. The feelings of unease and discomfort experienced in supposedly haunted locations could be the result of these inaudible infrasound waves. This raises the question of whether ghosts and other paranormal entities could be, in some cases, the products of our own physiology and environment, rather than supernatural forces.


The Diversity of Paranormal Activity

Before we draw any sweeping conclusions, it's essential to acknowledge the diverse nature of paranormal encounters. Not all ghostly experiences can be explained by infrasound. Whether you're hearing bumps in the night or encountering full-roaming apparitions, there is still much to discover in the realm of the unexplained.


Bridging Science and the Supernatural

As we delve into the intriguing world of infrasound and its potential connection to paranormal activity, one thing becomes clear: the line between science and the supernatural is often finer than we imagine. Infrasound's capacity to influence our experiences and perceptions has added a new layer to our understanding of the unexplained.

While we may not have unraveled all the mysteries surrounding ghosts and paranormal occurrences, the study of infrasound has provided a compelling avenue for exploration. By considering the science behind hauntings, we come one step closer to shedding light on the enigmatic and often inexplicable occurrences that continue to captivate our collective imagination.


This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.