“If it’s audible, then it’s not silence.”

Potomac Hall FACPAs everyone knows, if something is audible, then it’s not silence. Everyone should know that, right? You’d think so. But it appears that JMU does not understand that. The picture at left is from the fire alarm panel at Potomac Hall, where they can’t seem to figure out that you can’t hear silence, because the very nature of silence demands no sound! If you read the panel, right below “ALARM”, is “AUDIBLE SILENCE”. When was the last time you heard a CD, and they played a sound, and you recognized it as silence? I can see it… “Ah… gotta love that silence music!” Answer is that it doesn’t make sense. But then again, what does make sense in this world? If you read the archives, I’ve already documented the complete silliness about why there is a designation about how big the emergency buttons are… this is yet another thing that just doesn’t make sense around here…

Date posted: September 11, 2000

Notes: After this quote ran, several observant readers noted that I overlooked the fact that the date displayed on the alarm panel was September 11, 2096. After speaking to our Hall Director about this, she said that JMU was aware of the mistake, but they will not change it due to the fact that it's not an emergency. Also, from readers who were more knowledgeable in fire alarm systems than myself at the time, I now know the complete meaning of the "audible silence" feature. It appears that the word "audible" is not an adjective describing silence, but actually a noun, describing the horns or speakers. So they're silencing the audibles, i.e. shutting off the alarm. JMU fixed the date on the panel, along with replacing the graphic annunciator (visible in other pictures on the site), in the summer of 2001.