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A Shortwave Christmas Carol

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Hello anybody there so matty. Yes ma'am last week Brit and I connected to a radio station she's visa. I am radio in Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania have a conversation with space physicist and electrical engineer Nathaniel result. Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here and in two two thousand fourteen. His research took him to Antarctica cool. Yeah home to the South Pole and hub of scientific activity with research stations and field camps spread across the continent. New Zealand has a station down there. Several European countries due to scientists are asking questions. You can only answer in Arca and the Southern Ocean this time of year about wildlife wildlife like penguins. Yeah sure like penguins microbiology. tectonics the northern lights. Daniel was down there to look at the earth's magnetic field and polar regions. I picture this whole space. Mattie like science summer camp but spread across a desolate icebound landscape. What a dream? Yeah you're kind kind of summer camp and these people. They're far from home. which can be really tough? During the holidays so nathaniel when he was down there took part in a musical tradition tradition. That cues up every year on this day December. Twenty four South Pole station. We're ready and standing by thinks the Antarctic a Christmas carol basically the different stations in Antarctica. Sing to each other over shortwave radio. Oh my God this is legitimately the cutest thing you're seeing over the radio Transmission was from the Amundsen Scott South Pole station ahmanson shadow yacht ought. Here's a Christmas Carol from the Italian station. Mario's a Kelly singing an Italian Christmas Carol. I really liked service. I firmly believe this cute Nathaniel would have to agree with you and it's a beautiful thing and you know the different stations and people they have to have to watch out for each other because it's it's difficult environment down there and annual listening at McMurdo Station in a Blue Penguin Hoodie. Sure I'll add wondered if this caroline could be heard beyond Antarctica by shortwave listeners. And other parts of the world he wanted to know how far can these transmissions Israeli travel so how far away were people able to listen well. Before the Caroline Begin thin you'll put out an alert to shortwave radio listener saying hey if you I can hear this email us a lot of snow and people did. They were able to tune in. He got emails from the Netherlands. South America places far away from Antarctica. Some people were able to catch snippets of this singing at the bottom of the world so today. On the show shortwave. podcasts looks at shortwave radio how it works how it travels. And how anything of result is leveraging. A community of shortwave radio listeners for science. Emily Kwong are short. We've expert is nathaniel. Yes he's an assistant professor of physics and Engineering at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania. Okay so obviously I know shortwave the charming daily science podcast. But tell me about shortwave. As in shortwave radio so since since the nineteen hundreds we've been using radio waves to communicate. The waves are all different sizes the lower the wave's frequency the longer the wavelength one. Of the unique characteristics. Of shortwave shortwave. Radio is that it can travel. The radio. Waves can travel long distances very long distances around the world because there are three to thirty megahertz hurts in frequency they travel through space to this electrically charged part of our atmosphere called the ionosphere and are reflected or refracted back down to Earth. If we didn't did not have the atmosphere these shortwave signals would travel off into space and not be able to travel around the globe but luckily for us. They can travel around the globe. They they propagate far distances and those with receivers on earth are able to listen. Nathaniel loves shortwave. Because you don't need a lot of equipment to send and capture one of these transmissions oh it can be incredibly simple. You need a transmitter on one side and a receiver on the other and a decent antenna and when I say A transmitter there. There are some people who they make their goal to talk as far around the world is possible with that as little as equipment as possible as low power as possible so maybe using a quarter of a awas and ten dollars worth of parts people are able to send signals that. Get the go all the way around the globe. This is the ultimate Lo fi form of communication gathering. Yeah and that communication could be anything broadcast propaganda spice stations emergency information weather reports rag chewing which is a term mm to describe people just talking about their daily life so radio twitter. Yeah the transmission just has to fall within the right frequency range to count ashore wave and there's an international community of hobby radio operators who seek out a special license from their respective governments to do this. That's called Ham Radio Ham. Yeah that's the hobby Of using this radio so nathaniel discovered that community on a boy Scout Jamboree Ham radio operator had set up a station in the middle of the woods and just turned all his crackling and buzzing sounds coming out of a radio and I heard him talking to these faraway places and and that was just really fascinating fascinating to me and he was hooked got his license in Nineteen Ninety Eight. Just a teenager transmitting to whoever's listening in the northern New Jersey New York metropolitan area area so just pure bruce springsteen propaganda it was mostly just his call son and seventy three. This is W. Two and AF whiskey to November Alpha Foxtrot threaten seventy-three means best regards. It's a pretty common ham. Radio sign off eventually he upgraded to a better transmitter through a wire out the window of his bedroom and attached hatched tree in his front yard and he managed to get a hold of a station in Hungary and it was just a very short contact. But you know that was pretty neat you just throw a wire out your window. And you're able to talk to guy in Hungary and and it worked in these moments stayed with him propelling his scientific methodology and his his career cool. Okay so tell me a little bit about that. How his nathaniel used shortwave for science in a lot of interesting ways because disturbances happening in the ionosphere on a sphere space weather solar wind conditions? All of that would affect radio waves so in Grad school he was able to show how a solar flare caused aradio blackout so cool. Yeah and during the big two thousand seventeen solar eclipse which I missed because it was cloudy. Tragedy so sad but Nathaniel hosted a community science experiment through his group Ham side. The group measured how the eclipse affected the transmission of medium and high frequency radio waves. And the way he's using radio for scientific inquiry is so innovative that this year the National Science Foundation awarded him a one point. Three million dollar grant deign to do what well he wants to bring. Universities and this network of Ham radio operators together to track. What's going on in the ionosphere where short waves propagate in a more day to day way which we we don't really do right now? No not really. We don't really understand what happens on short timescales like why is the fear doing this in New York City but doing doing something else in Pennsylvania overhead and Pennsylvania and. Why is that important to understand the ionosphere to that level of detail? Well we as a planet Senate are really dependent on things happening in space and disturbances in the ionosphere do affect communication satellites global positioning systems. which are used to land planes all these tools? We rely on to keep us safe and connected and so it's very important to try to understand how everything is is is connected together in order to make this systems more robust and and in order to make them work. And in order to you know transmit Christmas carols around the world essential I think a lot of Ham radio for me has always been about connecting people from different parts of the world together. And and you know if you if you even look at like why Ham radio exists if you actually look in the the laws I believe. It says that it's for international goodwill and It's important to try and promote this international goodwill kwon. Do you think our podcast connects people all around the world. I mean we don't have three million listeners. That's how how many people listen to him radio now yet. Not with that attitude okay. I know world domination is your project but I will say I got into radio because I enjoyed tuning in and not knowing what I was going to hear our podcast definitely. Does that help so I think so so from our team to whoever is out there listening in in the world happy holidays. Happy Holidays