If silence is golden, then Microsoft has constructed the Fort Knox of quiet spaces.
According to Guinness World Records, the B87 anechoic chamber inside Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Washington, is the quietest place in the world, with an ambient noise reading that reaches 20 decibels below the threshold of human hearing.
The room, which the company uses to test audio and computer equipment, is built like an onion, surrounded by layer after layer of steel and concrete. It rests on springs designed to prevent vibrations, so not only does the room prevent echoes, it is so silent that if you remain in it for long enough, you will hear your own heartbeat, you'll notice your bones making a grinding sound when you walk, and a ringing in your ears will become almost unbearable.
Microsoft doesn't allow visitors to the room, so if you want to experience such silence, you'll have to travel to the next-quietest place, Orfield Labs in Minneapolis, which held the "world's quietest" title until Microsoft took the record in 2015. The Orfield site absorbs 99.99 percent of all sound, which owner Steven Orfield says is great on one hand and scary on the other: "“In the anechoic chamber, you become the sound,” he said, which is why no one is allowed to stay for long periods.
Such sweet silence:
- A 2013 study found that spending several hours in silence can prompt the creation of new brain cells.
- The World Health Organization has labeled noise pollution as a "modern plague," linking it to heart disease and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
- Silence has been shown to lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, and prevent plaque in arteries.