TED Conversations

Ivan Nel

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Why is absolute silence so terrifying ?

They say silence is golden – but there’s a room in the U.S that’s so quiet it becomes unbearable after a short time.

The longest that anyone has survived in the ‘anechoic chamber’ at Orfield Laboratories in South Minneapolis is just 45 minutes.

It’s 99.99 per cent sound absorbent and holds the Guinness World Record for the world’s quietest place, but stay there too long and you may start hallucinating.

What is it that causes our brains, to need sound to maintain sanity ?

Why is silence so terrifying ?


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    Oct 2 2012: Let's consider this posed in a different way. There's a month-long waiting list for people to spend time in the "room of extraordinary tranquility". For $100 you can stay 30 minutes. For $500 you may stay for 45 minutes and for $1000 you may stay for one hour, which is the ultimate experience in peace. The effects are long lasting - you'll reach nirvana and that will linger for nearly six months, when you may re-visit.

    Of course, being in South Minneapolis a more terrifying thought would being alone in the room with a large mosquito

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