Mysterious, unexplained sounds have been heard around the world for centuries.
The Californian city of San Diego is the latest to be plagued by eerie booming sounds that scientists are unable to explain.
While locals have reported a strange trembling of the ground accompanying the loud booming sound, the United States Geological Survey reported no earthquakes or other seismic activity in the area.
After the first of the earth-shaking booms, Geological Survey tweeted that the phenomenon “may have been a sonic boom,” adding that such occurrences “are not too uncommon” in San Diego.
While strange sounds from the skies have been heard throughout history, the past year seems to have been a boom year for booms.
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There have been increasing reports of weird noises across the globe during lockdown – in the US, Mexico, Slovakia, Italy, Brazil and Argentina.
The sounds are as varied as they are widespread: in Lakewood, Colorado a bizarre shrieking sound was described by a local as “like a train on a sharp curve… maybe feedback from a radio, trumpets or whales…” while a sound heard by hundreds of people in Bratislava was described as like “Darth Vader breathing”.
Around 4% of people around the world say they can hear a strange low-pitched noise, which is known by those who have heard it it as The Taos Hum, or just The Hum.
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The Hum has been blamed on traffic, general noise pollution and the stress of modern living, but no definitive cause has ever been identified.
David Deming, a geoscientist who is one of those people who reports hearing the strange sound, reports that the centre of the phenomenon seems to be in the UK, where The Hum has been reported since the early 1970s.
The earliest reports appear to date back to the 1830s.
Dr Glen MacPherson has created a map of Hum reports, which suggests that the sound is heard all over the world, with the numbers of reports corresponding to the density of population.
Almost every culture has a nickname for the unexplained sounds. In India, people of the Ganges Delta speak of “Bansal guns” while in Japan the sounds are called “Yan.”
In Belgium, unexplained sounds from the sky are called “mistpouffers” or “fog burps,” in the US they’re “Seneca Guns.”
While in many cases the sounds are dismissed as grumblings from minor earthquakes a team from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill mapped strange nouse reports against seismic data and found almost no correlation.
One of the researchers, Eli Bird, told Live Science: ”Generally speaking, we believe this is an atmospheric phenomenon – we don't think it's coming from seismic activity.”
He added: "We're assuming it's propagating through the atmosphere rather than the ground.”
But establishing what the sounds are not doesn’t help determine what they actually are.
While some could be sonic booms from military aircraft, the sounds are too frequent and too widespread to all be accounted for in that way.
Other explanations that have been put forward include distant tsunamis, belches of methane from the ocean bed, and wilder speculation such as UFO activity and the trumpets of angels warning of the End Times.
Some of the booms could be explained by micro-meteors exploding as they strike the upper atmosphere, but the hums, deep-sea bloops and Darth Vader breathing defy any current explanation.
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