A year-long quest to identify the worst sound in the world ended yesterday with top honours going to the backdrop of market town Britain on a Saturday night: a person vomiting. The sound, recreated for acoustics experts by an actor with a bucket of diluted baked beans, won out over fingers being dragged down a blackboard, a dentist's drill and wailing babies in an online study that attracted 1.1m votes from around the world.
Microphone feedback, crying babies and the scrapes and squeaks of a train on a track ranked second and joint third, with a cat howling and mobile phone ringtones coming joint 12th and snoring an unexpectedly low 26th.
The study, set up by Trevor Cox, a professor of acoustic engineering at Salford University, sought opinions on 34 sounds at the website www.sound101.org in the hope of learning what makes certain noises so objectionable.
"From a scientific perspective, we really don't understand why some sounds are so horrible, but our reactions are part of what makes us human. If, as engineers, we can learn what offends people then, in some cases, we may be able to engineer them out of existence or at least reduce their impact," he said.
Yes, by all means, let's engineer vomiting out of existence. Babies and cats, too, while we're at it.
Be that as it, etc., the ever-excruciating fingernails on a blackboard merely "ranked 16th, between sniffing and polystyrene being scrunched..."
Not sure what my least favorite sound is, but it definitely has too do with Shatner.
— Larry, Attack Monkey, Light Reading