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I Spent 5 Minutes Inside the Quietest Room in the World and Almost Lost My Mind

4 years ago
Microsoft principal engineer Gopal Gopal in the quietest room in the world.

Did you know there’s a certified quietest room in the world?

It is hidden deep within Building 87 on the Microsoft campus, and recently won a Guinness World Record.

Microsoft built its “anechoic chambers” in its hardware lab, Building 87, on its campus in Redmond, Washington.mic1

 

Anechoic means “echo-free.” The company actually has three chambers, each designed to completely absorb sound.mic2

 

To create an “acoustically-controlled environment,” Microsoft specifically designed the walls, ceiling, and floor of the room with sound-absorbent wedges.

mic3

 

Underneath the largest chamber, there’s an entirely separate foundation from the rest of Building 87: The room sits atop springs.

mic4

To keep outside noise out, there’s an “air gap” between the chamber and the rest of the building.mic5

 

That means that researchers have to step across a bridge to get into the chamber.mic6

 

Here’s a peek at the wedged ceiling.mic7

Business Insider writer Matt Weinberger got to spend 5 minutes inside the room. He says it almost made him lose his mind.

Microsoft built the room to help it conduct all kinds of science experiments relating to its products, from building better speakers for its Surface tablets and laptops, to improving Skype call performance, without noise contamination from the outside world.

The absolute quietest that anything on this planet can ever get is negative 23 decibels, since that’s the sound level made by air molecules bouncing off each other.

Microsoft’s main anechoic chamber goes down to negative 20.3 decibels.  “Right at the edge of physics,” as Microsoft principal engineer Gopal Gopal puts it.

“Once the door to the chamber is sealed, you immediately notice the difference: Your voice stops carrying, at all, because it’s not bouncing off the walls. All background noise totally fades out. Just talking normally felt like shouting into a pillow, as the noise barely traveled at all. ” Weinberger writes.

“Then, Gopal asked for total silence for 20 seconds. It was oppressively quiet, and a weird humming came up just on the edge of my hearing. After 20 seconds, I thought my head was going to cave in just from the oppressive sense of isolation… All I can say for certain is that if I spent much longer in that room, I would have gone totally nuts.” he concludes.

Last year, Wilzon Rothman – a Gizmodo writer who spent some time in the room narrated his experience as follows.

“My own voice sounded like it was having trouble coming out of my head. For a moment, I felt genuine disorientation, like the light-headedness you can get with low blood sugar.”

For perspective, here’s the world’s loudest sound.

sound1

And the theoretical ‘absolute’ quietest. sound2

A normal conversation is about 60 decibels.

Before Microsoft’s anechoic chamber, the previous world record stood at -13db.

H/T Business Insider

Source: Nairobi Wire

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