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World’s Quietest Place Lets You Hear Your Internal Organs

The mad and hectic pace of life, sometimes makes us all crave some peace and quiet. But then, as they say, too much of a good thing can actually be bad for you. That applies to silence, as it turns out people can’t stand to be in the world’s quietest place for too long. The longest a person has lasted in there is 45 minutes.

The place I’m talking about is a room at Orfield Laboratories in South Minneapolis. The room, also known as the ‘anechoic chamber’, is 99.99% sound absorbent. The double-insulated walls are made of steel and foot-thick concrete. Along the walls are also 3.3-foot thick fiberglass acoustic wedges that contribute to the ultra-quietness. The room holds the current Guinness World Record for being the quietest place on Earth. While it does seem like a dream come true, especially for those who live with kids or have stressful jobs, it’s actually not all that great. The room gets so silent that you can actually hear your internal organs at work. And after a while, the hallucinations begin.

The founder and president of Orfield Labs, Steven Orfield says that people are challenged to sit in the chamber with all the lights out. There was this one reporter who managed to stay in there for 45 minutes. Mr. Orfield himself can do it for 30 minutes, in spite of his mechanical heart valve that becomes very loud inside the room. “When it’s quiet, ears will adapt,” he says. “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.”

The experience is so disorienting that it could drive a person mad. In fact, it is imperative that people sit down. Standing up and walking around is simply impossible. Because we orient ourselves through the sounds we hear when we walk, there are no cues to go by inside the chamber. “You take away the perceptual cues that allow you to balance and maneuver. If you’re in there for half an hour, you have to be in a chair,” Mr. Orfield says.

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