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Meet Tim Storms, a man with an earth-shakingly low voice. How low, you ask? So low, he can hit a note you can’t even come close to hearing. On March 30, 2012, he reclaimed a previous Guinness World Record for lowest vocal note produced by a male when he sang a G -7 (as if note values are even relevant when they’re that low), which is 8 octaves below the lowest G on the piano.
As a quick refresher, our perception of pitch corresponds to a sound wave’s frequency, measured in Hertz, or cycles per second. It’s not quite as simple as this, but suffice it to say, the lower the pitch, the lower the frequency. Humans can hear down to about 20 Hz. Storms managed a whopping, sub-audible 0.189 Hz. That seems completely unbelievable to me, but the Guinness World Record gods say it is so, because they employed the help of a “low-frequency microphone, precision sound analyser, and laptop for post analysis.” Let me spend the rest of this blog entry putting such a low-frequency into perspective for you.
If I am correct, he is hitting a frequency of about 1 cycle per 5 seconds. In air, that’s a wavelength of 5950 feet. NPR reports that elephants communicate at a puny 10 to 20 Hz or cycles per second. The closest sonic phenomenon I could find to Tim Storms’s sub-audible humming is a class of infrasonic waves called microbaroms, found in a particular type of marine storm. Now, why am I not surprised?
Out of curiosity, I looked up the lowest “sound” in the universe, mostly so I could make a funny chart, and it comes from pressure oscillations from a black hole. the frequency of the oscillations correspond to a B-flat, 57 octaves lower than middle C. What?