If you’ve ever pressed one of the low keys on a piano softly and felt the note hang in the air, then you know what it’s like to hear the Ranchlands hum. The approximately 40 hertz hum has been plaguing residents of the northwest Calgary community since 2008, and nobody can figure out where it’s coming from.
Some people have described it more as a physical vibration than a humming noise. Not everyone can hear the sound, and some Ranchlands residents have assumed they have hearing damage or that it’s all in their heads.

But the hum is real, and really mysterious. Prof. Mike Smith and his students have spent years trying to help the good people of Ranchlands crack the case. Smith is a professor in the electrical and computer engineering department at the University of Calgary. The research has been on and off, and Smith picks up the project again when an interested student comes along. He started working on the hum, which he has heard in the field, because one of his graduate students, Emily Marasco, had been working in the community already to find the source of the noise. MORE