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No. 42: Nov-Dec 1985

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The sausalito hum

"The mysterious underwater hum that has annoyed Sausalito's houseboat community for the past 11 summers is back, and investigators still do not know the cause. 'It's a loud and audible mechanical raspy hum,' said Waldo Point Harbormaster Ted Rose, who said the vexing noise sounded like an electric razor. 'It sounds like this mzmzmzmzmzmzmzm,' Rose said. 'Sometimes it gets so loud you have to talk above it. It can drown out conversations and wake people from a dead sleep.' For reasons no one understands, the noise can be heard only from about 8 p.m. until sunrise, and it goes silent from late September until mid-April, when it begins humming again through the summer."

Acoustical engineers from Berkeley could not pinpoint the source of the sound with the help of instruments and a diver. Biologists believe the noise is made by the singing toad-fish, also called the plainfin midshipman. (Leery, Kevin, "Sausalito's Weird Hum Is Back, " San Francisco Chronicle, July 29, 1985. Cr. P. Bartindale. Also: Anderson, fan; "Humming Fish Disturb the Peace, " New Scientist, p. 64, September 12, 1985.) (See Category GSMI in EARTHQUAKES, TIDES, UNIDENTIFIED SOUNDS for more instances of underwater sounds, especially those mysterious sounds heard near the mouth of the Pascagoula River, Mississippi. (WRC)

From Science Frontiers #42, NOV-DEC 1985. 1985-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987