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It's so silent, it scares visitors.

Andrea Romano
November 08, 2017

Where do you go to finally get some peace and quiet?

The world is a noisy place. Airplanes flying overhead. Traffic. The sounds of your coworkers typing and chatting about the latest office gossip. Sometimes you need to get away.

There are plenty of quiet, off-the-beaten-path places you could go, like your own private island or the middle of a rainforest — far away from civilization. But actually, one of the quietest places of all is right in the busy city of Minneapolis.

Orfield Laboratories, which calls itself “The Quietest Place on Earth,” is a small room lined from top to bottom with sound-proof foam. In 2005, readings were at a negative 2.5 decibels, which earned the lab a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. It earned that distinction again in 2013.

Microsoft took the title in 2015 with an anechoic chamber built at its headquarters in Redmond, Washington, but that unfortunately is not open to visitors.

So, you'll have to settle for the now second quietest place in the world if you want to finally feel the sound of silence. “[We run] two tours a week and most everybody is from outside of the area. It can be a small group of up to 10 or it can be an individual,” lab owner Steve Orfield told Lonely Planet.

According to the lab website, no one is allowed in the room alone, and no group is allowed to enter without supervision. The entry fee is $125 per person, with a $250 minimum.

According to Orfield, entering the room can actually be a little disorienting — or, rather, disquieting. “What the chamber tends to do is it tends to scare people because when you get in the chamber, everything gets tremendously quiet. You feel like there’s pressure on your ears – but it’s actually pressure moving away from your ears,” he said.

Within minutes, Orfield says, visitors can actually start to hear the sounds of their own bodies, from their bones rubbing together when they move to their own heartbeats and the sounds of their lungs.

It’s probably not an experience that’s built for everyone. Orfield noted that some people leave immediately because the experience is “too scary.”

The laboratory, however, isn’t just for kicks. Orfield uses it to research how silence can be therapeutic for certain disorders, namely autism, PTSD, and some mental illnesses.

More information on the room can be found on the Orfield Labs website. Visitors can make a reservation via email. If you're looking for a silent space that wasn't made by man, we suggest this nature retreat in Washington.

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