In Search of Silence

My friend recently bought a sound level meter that can measure the intensity of noises and sounds.

We conducted some experiments that have really opened my eyes to how much noise we are subjected to almost continuously. We found that it is very difficult to find a place that is truly quiet. Comfortably quiet places outdoors also appear to be the exception rather than the rule in modern society.

For example, sitting outside one evening the ambient noise was measured. A car stereo, estimated to be a quarter mile distant, had the effect of raising the ambient noise level from about 60 DB to about 70 DB. While driving down the highway at 60 mph, with the windows rolled down, the sound went from about 75 DB to over 93 DB when a motorcycle passed at a distance of 15 feet. The quietest place we could find registered 38 DB on the meter. This was in a basement where no perceivable noise could be heard.

My friend told me something very interesting: he said that it appears to be impossible to achieve absolute silence (0 DB). According to this source,, ABSOLUTE SILENCE, ATT-BELL LABORATORY “ QUIET ROOM “ 10 DB

This quote captures the situation very elequently:

“Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation… tooting, howling, screeching, booming, crashing, whistling, grinding, and trilling bolster his ego. His anxiety subsides. His inhuman void spreads monstrously like a gray vegetation. ” ~Jean Arp

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