How Science Works – Bad Vibes

Professor Trevor Cox’s quest for the worst sound in the world Ever wondered what the worst sound in the world is? Acoustic engineer Professor Trevor Cox did. He developed an internet experiment that reached over one and a half million participants.

To make sure that his experiment was as reliable as possible Trevor had to design a website that was easy to access and to understand. He also had to make sure all the sounds that people would hear were of a similar loudness. But that wasn’t all; it appears that we all get ‘sound fatigue’ after a while and so we tend to find the first few noises on the website more horrible than the later ones. Trevor’s solution was to randomise the order the sounds are played. After a few million visitors any bias caused by the order of the sounds was smoothed out.

Trevor’s experiment got him news headlines around the world, but more importantly it demonstrated a new way of doing acoustic research over the internet.

And the worst sound in the world? You’ll have to watch the programme and find out!

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