Ever wonder why churches have organs instead of pianos? The people who devised church services knew what they were doing, because organs emit infrasound, which is lower than 20 Hertz. Although it’s inaudible to the human ear, it creates religious feelings in people.

Jonathan Amos writes in BBC News that scientists conducted an experiment in a London concert hall and found they could instill feelings of sorrow, coldness, anxiety and shivers down people’s spines by sneaking infrasound into the music they were listening to.

Recent studies have shown that elephants communicate this way, and that volcanoes that are getting ready to erupt may also produce infrasound. Some people think that haunted houses may be associated with it.

“It has been suggested that because some organ pipes in churches and cathedrals produce infrasound this could lead to people having weird experiences which they attribute to God,” says psychologist Richard Wiseman. “Some of the experiences in our audience included ‘shivering on my wrist,’ ‘an odd feeling in my stomach,’ ‘increased heart rate,’ ‘feeling very anxious,’ and ‘a sudden memory of emotional loss.’ This?shows infrasound does have an impact, and that has implications…in a religious context and some of the unusual experiences people may be having in certain churches.”

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