If you want peace and quiet, current technologies require a compromise: settle for thick, unsightly foam or use thinner panels that don't block bass. A new technology developed in Hong Kong, however, is both super thin and super effective.

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The researchers at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in Kowloon have made their noise-canceling strides with the simplest of materials: latex and plastic.

The latex is stretched over a grid of plastic squares that's only 3mm thick, with a small piece of plastic in the middle of each square. Depending on the weight of that plastic button, the panel can be tuned to cancel out a different frequency. Five of these panels stacked together effectively canceled 70 to 550 hertz and was still only as thick as a ceramic tile.

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Technological progress results in a lot of noise—think stereos, airplanes, trucks, and the rest—so it's good to hear that some researchers are hard at work developing technologies that offer an increasingly rare commodity: silence. [PopSci]