Some say that silence is golden. However, this will certainly not be the case if you find yourself in the quietest room in the world - no one can survive for more than an hour.
In 2015, Microsoft built a room that is now officially designated in the Guinness Book of Records as the quietest place on Earth. Dubbed the anechoic chamber, it is located at the company's headquarters in Redmond, Washington.
Only very few people managed to survive in this room for a long period of time - at most an hour. After a few minutes, you will start to hear your heartbeat. A few minutes later, you can hear your bones creaking and the blood flowing through your body.
The point of the anechoic chamber is not that you cannot hear anything, but that it removes all other external noises and allows you to hear the endless sounds of your body. Only in death is the body completely still.
Environments that we think of as exceptionally quiet are usually louder than the human hearing threshold, which is around 0 decibels. Noise in a quiet library, for example, may reach around 40 decibels.
“When you turn your head, you can even hear that movement. You can hear yourself breathing and it sounds pretty loud.”Hondaraj Gopal, lead project designer
Without any sounds from the outside world to get in the way, absolute silence will gradually turn into an unbearable ringing in the ears. This will likely cause you to lose your balance due to the lack of reverberation in the room, which will impair your spatial awareness.
"When you turn your head, you can even hear that movement. You can hear yourself breathing and it sounds pretty loud," Hondaraj Gopal, the project's lead designer at Microsoft, said.
It took two years to design the space; it consists of six layers of concrete and steel and is slightly detached from the surrounding buildings. An array of shock-absorbing springs was installed below it. Inside, fiberglass wedges are installed on the floor, ceiling and walls to break up the sound waves before they have a chance to travel into the room.
A competitor for the anechoic title
Another anechoic room is hoping to win the title of the quietest room in the world. The room is located at Orfield Laboratories in Minneapolis and was designed by scientist Steven J. Orfield, who held the record for the quietest room before Microsoft broke it in 2015.
Orfield told The New York Times that he has applied for his room to get the title back and is currently awaiting a response from the Guinness World Records management team. A Guinness representative confirmed receipt of Orfield's referral and added that the Guinness World Records team is in the "process of evaluating his evidence and their review criteria."