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"The Human Radio"

Written by Paul Sutter on Tuesday, 30 August 2016. Posted in From The Desk of...The Chief Scientist

Humans emit radio waves. It's true! And you can prove it.

You know that old rusting unused satellite dish sitting on top of your roof? Just take it down and hook it up to some cheap electronics. Voila, you have a telescope! I, uh, might be skipping some details here. Anyway, you can point it at anything warm and it will start bleeping and blooping. The sun, trees, and even people.

It's called the "itty bitty telescope", and is a great demo to introduce people to the wild and wonderful world of radio astronomy. People emit mostly infrared radiation - this is how night vision goggles work so well - but they also emit a little bit of radio waves. And the satellite dish on your roof is sensitive to those same radio wavelengths.

All sorts of of other stuff in the universe emts radio waves too: stars blowing up, stars being born, gas falling into black holes, auroras on Saturn, the works. And radio is super-useful because it lets us see through any clouds of gas and dust that might be in the way.

If you're curious for more (and I know you are), just wait. I was awarded a small grant to produce a short planetarium film on this subject, and we recently finished filming some interviews with tons of help from Ty Owen. Stay tuned...

About the Author

Paul Sutter

Paul Sutter

Paul Sutter is COSI's Chief Scientist. He is an astrophysicist and offers a wealth of knowledge about our universe. In addition to his COSI position, Paul Sutter is a Cosmological Researcher and Community Outreach Coordinator at The Ohio State University's Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP).