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There is an anechoic chamber in Minneapolis, supposedly the "quietest place on earth", with isolated walls that absorb 99.99% of all echoes.

It is claimed that the world record for staying in this room is 45 minutes (one source claims 60 minutes). I find it hard to believe that the longest time someone can stand staying in such a room is such an absurdly low number, for a condition presumably similar to what deaf people experience all their life.

This room was features in another question here, which asks about the hallucinatory effects:
Does a -9 dB room cause hallucinations?

The answers to that question show that indeed such a room may induce hallucinations, but say nothing about the claimed world record.

Is the maximum time anyone has been able to stay in this or a similar room really been less than a couple hours?

Or has nobody tried for longer?

Examples for the claim:

dailymail.co.uk: We all crave it, but can you stand the silence? The longest anyone can bear Earth's quietest place is 45 minutes

Gizmodo.com: The Quietest Place on Earth Will Drive You Insane Within 45 Minutes

Discovery.com: World's Quietest Room Will Drive You Crazy in 30 Minutes

Huffingtonpost.com: World's Quietest Room, Anechoic Chamber In Minneapolis, Absorbs Sound

Today.Com: The sound of silence: Sailor finds peace in world's quietest room (claims that someone beat the previous record of 45 minutes and stayed for an hour)

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    It's not exactly like being deaf. You won't get any sounds from most of your environment, but your body still produces sounds, some of which are quieter than normal ambient sounds, which your brain cancels out. Under these circumstances, your brain will no longer cancel them out and you will start hearing your own heartbeat, your muscles and tendons stretching, your clothes rubbing against your skin, your teeth clenching, the blood flowing in your ears, etc. Surely not everyone is going loonie under these circumstances, but I can imagine the huge discomfort which would lead to paranoia. – Vercas Sep 4 '15 at 12:11
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    I've worked in an anechoic chamber without too many issues, often for hours at a time. I have no idea what the longest stretch of time is, since I didn't track my coffee/bathroom breaks. But it was not a particularly unpleasant experience. It was certainly odd though. – drxzcl Sep 4 '15 at 14:15
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    The 1-hour record is claimed to be related to THAT specific anechoic chamber, not any anechoic chamber. – Lucia Bentivoglio Sep 4 '15 at 14:57
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    Anyone who cannot stand more than 45 minutes of total quiet has never been to a kids softplay. – Jamiec Sep 4 '15 at 15:05
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    @LuciaBentivoglio - Hear hear! (no pun intended) The claim that you'll go crazy in an hour is specific to a single anechoic chamber, which is billed as the quietest room on earth. The claim may or may not be true, and it may or may not be true that the chamber in Minneapolis is the quietest room on the planet, but the "you'll go crazy" claim seems to be limited to that specific chamber, not anechoic chambers in general. – Wad Cheber Sep 6 '15 at 2:42
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Definitely not.

Here's a video of a science reporter, Veritasium, staying in an anaechoic chamber for one hour, in the dark. Not only they do so at the first attempt, but they come out of it convinced they could have stayed indefinitely -- that there was no "driving crazy effect".

Clearly this is weak evidence by scientific standards, but the evidence those links give is no better, and this is actually on film/tape. Also, claiming that something extraordinary happens should be backed by stronger evidence than... nothing happens.

veritasium in anaechoic chamber

More importantly, there have been studies on whether anaechoic chambers and darkness give hallucinations or psychotic states. This is the subject of this other answer, which finds that there is an increase in the incidence of such occurrences.

That said, the subjects in at least one experiment were subjected to three hours of isolation in an anaechoic chamber. I think this debunks the claim thoroughly.

Imagery Sequence in Sensory Deprivation

Imagery Sequence in Sensory Deprivation, R. Vosburg, et al., AMA Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1960;2(3):356-357. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1960.03590090112016.

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    Yep, whenever I see that claim about people going crazy I'm always reminded of that video of Derek from Veritasium. – Ajedi32 Sep 4 '15 at 13:39
  • Never understood why being in an anechoic chamber would be different than being outside. How are sound absorbing walls different than no walls? Can't you experience the same silence in the middle of the ocean or the salt flats of utah? When astronauts go for a space walk is it only their radio's that keep them sane? – candied_orange Sep 6 '15 at 5:32
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    @CandiedOrange, the ocean has the sound of waves striking your boat and the ambient noise of the water, the desert has thousands of insects, and both have the wind. Between air pumps, water pumps, electronic hum, and other noises, a spacesuit is anything but quiet. In contrast, an anechoic chamber is truly silent, with your body as the only source of noise. – Mark Sep 6 '15 at 20:31
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    But wouldn't the camera produce sounds as well? – fabian789 Sep 10 '15 at 20:11
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    @fabian789 the camera was off, the sound was being recorded through a microphone (it's a studio, after all) – Sklivvz Sep 10 '15 at 20:17

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protected by Sklivvz Sep 6 '15 at 7:22

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