9 Mysterious Noises

1"Music" From The Dark Side Of The Moon

In 1969, Apollo 10 astronauts Thomas Stafford, John Young and Eugene Cernan heard weird sounds while orbiting the far side of the moon — but the noise was likely the result of radio interference.

It began once the capsule was out of the range of any Earth broadcast. At one point, the baffled astronauts can be heard discussing whether they should tell NASA command or not.

"You hear that? That whistling sound? Whooooooooo!" one of them says.

Another astronaut says he can: "It sounds like, you know, outer space-type music."

"Well, that sure is weird music," his companion agrees.

The sound lasted about an hour. Once the astronauts were back on Earth, the recording was shelved until 2008. In 2012, NASA put all of the audio archives from the mission online. They have resurfaced in the third season of the Science Channel's series, NASA's Unexplained Files.

Astronaut Eugene Cernan has dismissed conspiracies regarding the audio saying, "I don't remember that incident exciting me enough to take it seriously. It was probably just radio interference. Had we thought it was something other than that, we would have briefed everyone after the flight. We never gave it another thought."

But Apollo 15 astronaut Al Worden isn't so sure: "The Apollo 10 crew is very used to the kind of noises that they should be hearing." He suggests that had it been interference, it would have been clearly recognized it as such.

2The University of Iowa Fight Song

Okay, we know what the "mysterious noise" in the question is — a marching band rendition of the University of Iowa fight song. We just don't know why it's playing on a loop all evening, every evening from a vacant building across the street from a restaurant in Niagara Falls, New York, called Wine on Third.

If the owner of the offending building has a beef with the restaurant, its owners say, he hasn't raised it with them.

"Everyone keeps asking, why do you think he's doing it? I wish I had the slightest clue, I really do," said Eamon Weber, son of co-owner Sean Weber, as he tended bar. "We're assuming that it's against us, and he's doing it to antagonize us, just because there's really not anything else around on the street."

The building's owner, known as "Smokin'" Joe Anderson, has not yet spoken publicly on his reasons for the nightly spirited serenade.


Mysterious, loud noises have been reported for hundreds of years across the world. But, what actually causes them?

There are many potential explanations, according to David Hill, a scientist at the US Geological Survey, who wrote a recent scientific review paper rounding up the causes of “mystery booms" or "skyquakes." In coastal regions, for instance, large "bangs" may accompany massive waves hitting the cliffs. Some observers have also reported large rumbles accompanying tsunamis, sometimes alongside mysterious fireballs. Both may come from a belch of methane erupting from “clathrate” crystals on the ocean floor. If those somehow ignite, they would create a massive blow.

Sand dunes have also been known to rumble like a waking giant. They are capable of producing a variety of low-level whispering, whistling, singing, humming, or squeaking sounds, and less commonly, loud booming sounds.

Hill suspects earthquakes just below the surface of the Earth are to blame in the majority of cases.

4Mysterious Ocean Sounds

Several very unusual sounds coming from the oceans have been recorded by scientists worldwide, and have just one thing in common — despite theories as to their sources, they remain unexplained.

• Bloop
In 1997, deep sea microphones captured a loud and unusual sound, but its origin remains unknown. The "Bloop" was placed as occurring off the southern coast of South America and was audible 5,000 kilometers away. It does have similarities to sounds vocalized by living organisms, but researchers say no known creature on Earth can create something this loud. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) believes the sound was caused by a large iceberg fracturing.

• Julia
The eastern equatorial Pacific autonomous array (a network of hydrophones) picked up this strange sound on March 1, 1999. Like the Bloop, "Julia" is most likely the sound of ice.

• Upsweep
The "Upsweep" has been picked up by hydrophones seasonally since 1991 and peaks in the spring and fall. The source of the sound appears to be an area of undersea volcanic activity, but scientists have yet to find what's causing it.

• Slow Down
The "Slow Down" was recorded on May 19, 1997, and gets its name because it descends in frequency over seven minutes. Scientists have located the source of the sound to the Antarctic Peninsula, leading them to suspect that it is the result of a drifting iceberg hitting the seafloor and screeching to a stop. It was detected by sensors nearly 3,100 miles (5,000 km) apart.

5Strange Sounds From The Edge of Space

In May 2015, strange sounds from the edge of space were recorded aboard a NASA student balloon experiment.

Daniel Bowman, a graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, designed and built the equipment. The instruments eavesdropped on atmospheric infrasound (sound waves) at frequencies below 20 Hertz.

During the nine-hour, high-altitude balloon flight — an annual project conducted by NASA and the Louisiana Space Consortium — the balloon floated some 450 miles (725 km) and reached a height of more than 123,000 feet (37,500 meters). This is an area above where airplanes fly, but below the boundary marking the top of the stratosphere, 62 miles (100 km) above the Earth's surface. It was there the infrasound sensors picked up a complex mix of signals that the scientists are working to interpret.

The researchers had never "heard" many of the stratospheric signals before. Some of their theories include signals from a wind farm under the balloon's flight path, crashing ocean waves, wind turbulence, gravity waves, clear air turbulence, or vibrations caused by the balloon cable.

6Nocturnal Noise In Forest Grove, Oregon

Descriptions of the shrill noise piercing quiet nights in Forest Grove, Oregon run the gamut — to some, it sounds like a giant flute played off pitch. To others, it sounds like faulty car brakes or a steam whistle echoing in the distance.

Residents began hearing the strange noise, which lasts anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes, in late 2015. It is loud enough, residents say, that it rouses them from sleep and drives their pets crazy.

Fire, police and public works officials are baffled, but don't believe that whatever it is that is causing the shrill noise poses a safety risk.

7The Taos Hum

The town of Taos, in north-central New Mexico, is home to an unusual mystery — a resident hum of unknown origin, the so-called "Taos Hum."

The hum was first reported in the early 1990s. Joe Mullins, a professor emeritus of engineering at the University of New Mexico, conducted a survey of residents, and found about 2% of the general population claimed to be able to detect the hum. Sensitive equipment was set up in the homes of several of the "hearers," measuring sounds and vibrations. However, after extensive testing, nothing unusual was detected.

The research also revealed there was not a single identifiable hum, but instead several different noises that people heard — it was described as whir, hum or buzz. The fact that not everyone heard the same thing was puzzling, and suggests that they may have been reporting subjective experiences instead of objective sounds.

Most researchers investigating the hum believe the that the phenomenon is real and not the result of mass hysteria or hypochondria. Some think it could be the result of high-pressure gas lines, electrical power lines, wireless communication devices or other sources. There are alsoverified cases in which individuals have particular sensitivities to signals outside the normal range of human hearing.

8The "Wow!" Signal

On August 15, 1977, radio astronomers using the Big Ear radio telescope at Ohio State University picked up a powerful signal from space. The signal — known as the “Wow!" signal after a note scribbled by astronomer Jerry Ehman, who detected it — came through loud and clear at 1420 megahertz, corresponding to a wavelength of 21 centimeters. It's intensity rose and fell over the course of 72 seconds, which is the length of time that the Big Ear could keep an object in range due to the rotation of the Earth. That meant it was clearly coming from space. So, what was it?

For decades, many believed it was our first interception of an alien broadcast, but a professor of astronomy at St Petersburg College in Florida, Antonio Paris, has a more plausible explanation. He thinks the signal might have come from one or more passing comets — 266P/Christensen and P/2008 Y2 (Gibbs). “I came across the idea when I was in my car driving and wondered if a planetary body, moving fast enough, could be the source,” he says.

Comets release a lot of hydrogen as they swing around the sun. This happens because ultraviolet light breaks up their frozen water, creating a cloud of gas extending millions of kilometers out from the comet itself. The two comets in question weren't discovered until the last decade, so nobody would have thought to search for them in 1977.

To prove his theory, Paris proposes looking at the same region of space when the comets are back. 266P/Christensen will transit the region first, on January 25, 2017, and P/2008 Y2 (Gibbs) will pass by on January 7, 2018. An analysis of the hydrogen signal of the comets should reveal if he is correct.

Watch below to hear the "Wow!" signal:

9The Colossi of Memnon

The Colossi of Memnon were originally built in 1350 BC as part of a mortuary temple for Egyptian ruler Amenhotep III and are located in what is now Luxor, Egypt.

The massive statues were so named because there was a time when, on some days at dawn, one of the figures would give off a high-pitched sound. Greeks, and later Romans, attributed the "singing" to Eos, Memnon's mother, mourning for her son. So, the singing Colossi of Memnon were named for Eos' dead son and attracted many tourists interested in hearing her cries.

What really caused the statue's wails? In 27 BC, a large earthquake reportedly shattered the northern colossus, collapsing it from the waist up and cracking the lower half. Following the damage, the remaining bottom half was then reputed to "sing" on various occasions — always within an hour or two of sunrise. The sound was likely due to rising temperatures and humidity in the morning.

Travelers would come from far away to hear the "music." Being granted a song meant that the hearer was in favor with the gods. When a Roman emperor, Septimius Severus, repaired the earthquake damage in the first or second century, the sound disappeared.