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You might think that a library reading room or well-insulated basement is a quiet place, but compared to the anechoic chamber in Microsoft’s audio lab, they’re about as quiet as a jumbo jet. The chamber, housed in Building 87 on the company’s Redmond, Washington, campus, was recently verified by (who else?) Guinness as being the quietest place in the entire world, reaching an eardrum-bending -20.3 decibels.

That’s amazingly close to the limit of how quiet things can be on our planet: -23 decibels or so, which is the amount of noise made by…

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