Auditory perception of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields

Author(s): Chung-Kwang Chou, Arthur W. Guy (University of Washington, School of Medicine and College of Engineering) and Robert Galambos (University of California, School of Medicine)
Publication: Journal of Acoustical Society of America
Volume: 71(6):1321-1334
Publisher: Acoustical Society of America
Date: June 1982

Absorption of pulsed microwave energy can produce an auditory sensation in human beings with normal hearing. The phenomenon manifests itself as a clicking, buzzing, or hissing sound depending on the modulatory characteristics of the microwaves. While the energy absorbed (∼10 μJ/g) and the resulting increment of temperature (∼10ˆ-6 °C) per pulse at the threshold of perception are small, most investigators of the phenomenon believe that it is caused by thermoelastic expansion. That is, one hears sound because a miniscule wave of pressure is set up within the head and is detected at the cochlea when the absorbed microwave pulse is converted to thermal energy. In this paper, we review literature that describes psychological, behavioral, and physiological observations as well as physical measurements pertinent to the microwave-hearing phenomenon.

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