Have you ever considered what a noise-free society might be like? Some people certainly have. In 1907, Philosopher Theodore Lessing introduced the first “Antilarmverein,” or anti-noise society, in Hanover. With the motto, “Silence is noble,” Lessing and his members frequently debated how modern noises from factory machinery, cars, and weapons of war might interfere with Germany’s intellectual and cultural development. At the same time in Berlin, pharmacist Max Negwer created the first modern earplug, “Ohropax,” meaning “ear” in German and “peace” in Latin. However, it wasn’t until 1914 that Ohropax took off, as soldiers were returning home from the front line deaf. Ohropax was then promoted as protection from cannon sound effects. This aversion to noise has carried over into German society today, as the sound of running water, birds singing, and stone-and-plant barriers are used strategically to prevent noise from entering playgrounds and local parks. Maybe Princes Street Gardens could use a similar design scheme!