Wherever you go, there it is ... a low, droning hum that seems to follow you at home, at work, when you're alone or with friends and family. You wear earplugs in a futile attempt to block it. You complain to others about the sound but no one else can hear it. It feels like you might just be going crazy.
It's not an episode of "The Twilight Zone." There are certain geographic areas, such as England, Scotland and the United States, where a low, mysterious hum is audible to only about 2 percent of the local population.
Those unfortunate folks complain of the noise's haunting pervasiveness. Many of them suffer headaches, nosebleeds and sleep problems. The sounds may be more noticeable at night, a constant throbbing or pulsing noise that never stops.
Sufferers are typically past middle age, but doctors rule out tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Some people become so distressed that they commit suicide.
A few hums have been traced back to specific sources, like huge diesel engines and power lines. And at least one scientists attributes the so-called Bristol Hum to seismic waves caused by ocean waves. Other hums around the world are simply unexplained, causing ceaseless stress to the afflicted.
Real life, as is obvious, is full of unsettling scenarios. Sometimes it's the dread of an unexplained sound. In other cases, it's the outright bloody awfulness of an unfathomable murder scene. But whether it's mystery or gore, sometimes the truth of our world is scarier than any horror movie. Perhaps Mother Nature is the ultimate horror show screenwriter, composing scenes of chaos and strangeness that not even Hollywood can conjure.
Author's Note: 10 Real Events That Sound Just Like Horror Movies
I grew up watching movies like "The Exorcist" and "Poltergeist," the kind of psychologically warping films that make you question the nature of reality. Like all kids, once you start to grow up, you realize that movies have nothing on reality. There are all sorts of weird and scary things happening all around you, caused by bizarre human behavior or by the strangeness of our natural surroundings. You don't really need Hollywood in order to be terrified — all you have to do is set foot outside your front door.
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Sociologist Arthur B. Shostak thinks stories of hope hold a critical place amid the teachings of the Holocaust. HowStuffWorks talked to Shostak to learn more.