In a world where something is always happening, people are always moving, and equipment is always buzzing, most people don’t know what silence really is. But in Minnesota, real silence can be found in a room. In fact, the anechoic chamber found at Orfield Laboratories Inc. is the Quietest Place on Earth, as awarded by the Guinness Book of World Records.
They say silence is golden – but there’s a room in the U.S that’s so quiet it becomes unbearable after a short time.
The longest that anyone has survived in the ‘anechoic chamber’ at Orfield Laboratories in South Minneapolis is just 45 minutes.
It’s 99.99 per cent sound absorbent and holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s quietest place, but stay there too long and you may start hallucinating.
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It achieves its ultra-quietness by virtue of 3.3-foot-thick fiberglass acoustic wedges, double walls of insulated steel and foot-thick concrete.
The company’s founder and president, Steven Orfield, told MailOnline: ‘We challenge people to sit in the chamber in the dark – one reporter stayed in there for 45 minutes.
‘When it’s quiet, ears will adapt. The quieter the room, the more things you hear. You’ll hear your heart beating, sometimes you can hear your lungs, hear your stomach gurgling loudly.
‘In the anechoic chamber, you become the sound.’
And this is a very disorientating experience. Mr Orfield explained that it’s so disconcerting that sitting down is a must.
He said: ‘How you orient yourself is through sounds you hear when you walk. In the anechnoic chamber, you don’t have any cues. You take away the perceptual cues that allow you to balance and manoeuvre. If you’re in there for half an hour, you have to be in a chair.’
The chamber is used by a multitude of manufacturers, which test how loud their products are.
Mr Orfield said: ‘It’s used for formal product testing, for research into the sound of different things – heart valves, the sound of the display of a cellphone, the sound of a switch on a car dashboard.’