Orfield Laboratories in South Minneapolis is the home of “the quietest place on earth,” as recorded in the Guinness World Records. The lab is called an anechoic chamber, meaning there is no echo as the room absorbs 99.99% of sound. It is used by various manufacturers to test product volume and sound quality – it can also drive a person mad.
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. You’ll hear your heart beating, sometimes you can hear your lungs, hear your stomach gurgling loudly. In the anechoic chamber, you become the sound.
Members of the public must book a tour to visit the room, and are only allowed in for a short and supervised stay. According to the lab’s website, only members of the media are permitted to stay in the chamber alone for prolonged periods of time.
The company’s founder and president, Steven Orfield, told MailOnline: ‘We challenge people to sit in the chamber in the dark – one reporter stayed in there for 45 minutes’.
A typical quiet bedroom at night measures about 30 decibels, this chamber measures at -9 decibels. It is made of 3.3-foot-thick fiberglass acoustic wedges, double walls of insulated steel and foot-thick concrete.
Manufacturers use the lab for product testing and development. Companies like Harley Davidson use the lab to create quieter bikes that still sound like a Harley, for instance. Other products like LED displays are tested to make sure their volume is not too loud. NASA, in fact, uses a similar lab to test its astronauts, given that space is like one giant anechoic chamber, explains Mr. Orfield.