At Orfield Laboratories in Minneapolis, this is the world’s quietest room. Using 3 foot thick fiberglass insulation and deep foam sound-absorbing wedges, this room absorbs 99% of outside noise, leaving only the sounds of the people or objects that are brought in here.
While the room is used sometimes for technical analysis— for example, companies testing out the sound of a switch or a dial or some other mechanical component, it’s also a test of psychological will. The longest anyone has ever stayed in this room in complete sound deprivation before they had to leave was 45 minutes. Forty-five minutes of absolute dead silence.
Put a human being in there, however, and they become disoriented or even experience hallucinations. After a few minutes, founder Steven Orfield told the Daily Mail, your body begins to adapt to the soundlessness, picking up smaller and smaller sounds. “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.” Because there are no external sounds, it’s difficult to move around: “If you’re in there for half an hour, you have to be in a chair.”
In extreme cases, the sensory deprivation is debilitating. NASA astronauts train by being placed in a water tank in the room, an experience that apparently causes hallucinations as the body tries to create sensations out of thin air. When the lights are turned out, the Mail says that the longest time anyone has been able to stay inside is 45 minutes.