Mystery booms: The source of a worldwide sonic enigma

ONE Saturday morning in 2010, Jody Smith, a resident of Carolina Beach in North Carolina, was disturbed by an extraordinary booming sound. She wasn’t alone: as she rushed out into the street, she bumped into neighbours also startled by the noise. The clear blue sky ruled out thunder. Smith went back inside and posted a message on Facebook asking if others had heard it too. Within minutes she had dozens of affirmative replies, some from 25 kilometres away.

For Smith, the sound wasn’t a one-off. “I generally hear a booming noise about once or twice a year,” she says. A local journalist, Colin Hackman, decided to investigate but failed to find any nearby human activities Athat could explain the sound, such as military activity or quarry blasts. “I’ve heard these booms a couple of times myself,” says Hackman. “It really is a bit of a mystery.”

The residents of North Carolina are not the only ones to have heard unexplained booming noises. Strange rumbles, whistles and blasts have been reported all over the world for centuries. In the Seneca lake region of New York state, they are called “Seneca guns”; in the Italian Apennines they are described as “brontidi“, which means thunder-like; in Japan they are “yan“; and along the coast of Belgium they are called “mistpouffers” – or fog belches….

One explanation that Hill admits he couldn’t rule out for the North Carolina case is secret military activity, such as the sonic boom of a jet or naval cannons at sea, thanks to a nearby military base. However, he points out that people reported sounds in the region long before the base was built, or indeed supersonic flight was invented. The same goes for other reports around the world.

Read More: New Scientist


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