I recently heard that the universe might be tuned to B flat. Now being the naturally inquisitive guy that I am, I decided to check it out. It seems that most of the rumors to that effect have their basis in an investigation that NASA did some years ago at their Chandra Observatory. They were observing a certain black hole. Now, how one observes something that gives off no light is a little confusing to me, but then this is science. So these scientists noticed some strange vibrations being emitted by this black hole (I don’t know, maybe they were Beach Boy fans back in the day). They say it is about a B flat – a very low B flat. In fact, it is at a level 57 octaves below the mid-range of the piano. Just think about how low that is. If a piano was built to sound that note it would be half the length of a football field and the key board would be 35 feet wide. You’d have to run to your neighbor’s house to play that note. And, of course, we wouldn’t actually perceive it as a note, maybe a march tempo. Check it out.
So, because there is evidence that this black hole is tuned to a very low B flat, does that mean that the universe is likewise? I don’t know, but here’s some interesting evidence that NPR’s Robert Krulwich and friends turned up a few years back. They not only site the previous reference, but some other very peculiar evidence as well. Listen to this.
What I am aware of in my everyday walk of life is that our electrical current is tuned to about a B flat. You know how when you are in a quiet room that is lit by florescent lights and they are giving off that annoying buzz? They do that because our electrical current is alternating at 60 cycles per second. That 60 cps is somewhere between a B and a B flat. Anything that runs on household current (like your computer) is similarly tuned. Of course, that’s only been a phenomenon since the development of electricity, but I would love to have been in the room for that decision.
So, perhaps there is a fundamental pitch at which we all vibrate (I’ve often wondered what sound the big bang gave off) but until someone smarter than myself can give us some definitive evidence I’ll continue to ponder the question and search for that just right pitch for my OM.