Windsor hum search could have a celestial solution

Matthew Coutts
National Affairs Reporter
Daily Brew

When it comes to a mysterious hum emanating from somewhere near Windsor, Ont., the truth is out there.

The bothersome background noise has appeared from time to time in the southern Ontario border city, described as the sound of an idling truck, a train and a pounding bass.

For afflicted residents, it is torture. Worse yet, no one know what it is. And some doubt it even exists.

The government is now turning to an astronomer to root out an answer.

CBC News reports that the government has approved $60,000 in research grants to two university groups ready to investigate the source of the sound.

[ Related: Windsor's mysterious hum research to be funded by Ottawa ]

Colin Novak, an acoustics expert at the University of Windsor, will team with Western University astronomer Peter Brown to chase down the source.

The team will use low-frequency microphones usually used to track meteors to detect infrasound.

And, before you ask, here is an explanation on what infrasound is. In short: it is sound you can’t hear, like a volcano stirring or meteor passing Earth, or a space shuttle launch in Florida… if you are not in Florida.

But the real question is, why the hum is the government approving a research grant instead of getting to the root of the problem itself?

Well, actually. Natural Resources Canada did its own study last year and found that the sound was likely coming from Zug Island, a small man-made island on the Michigan side of the border.

According to the Canadian Press, a U.S. steel mill re-opened on Zug Island about the time that the hum appeared. ABC News reported on the hum last year, stating that people south of the border couldn't even hear the sound. State officials did their own search and found nothing.

[ Related: International Joint Commission studies Windsor hum ]

There are too many questions to assume the hum will go away any time soon. Without absolute proof there is little chance a U.S. industry will change its habits to appease a handful of Canadians.

You might as well ask them to fly to the moon.