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[Mystery Solved!] What household objects can pick up radio signals?

  1. Aug 17, 2011 #1
    I have just had a very strange experience, and would like to know if there is an explanation for it. There was a small tin of black olives on my kitchen work surface. I put a teaspoon into the tin, to get an olive. The moment I did this, I heard what sounded like a radio broadcast of a football match. I could clearly make out the sound of the crowd. I could hardly believe what I was hearing, as I have never experienced anything like it before. When I removed the spoon from the tin, the sound stopped. I tried it again by putting the spoon back in the tin, but the sound did not happen again. I have tried to find any information online, to discover if such a thing is possible, but have found nothing. I was not the only person in my house to hear it, so I know it wasn't my imagination.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 17, 2011 #2

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

    Re: What household objects can pick up radio signals?

    Welcome to the PF.

    How far away is the nearest radio transmitting tower? If you look at the radio/TV guide for your area, do you see a football match that would have been on during this time?
     
  4. Aug 17, 2011 #3

    vk6kro

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    Re: What household objects can pick up radio signals?

    Commedienne Lucille Ball once claimed to hear AM radio after getting a metallic tooth filling, but she was well known for her sense of humour.

    There are some basic requirements for hearing an AM radio signal.

    You need an antenna. You need some source of rectification and you need some way of transmitting the resultant audio to your ears, like headphones or a speaker.

    Your tin of olives wouldn't have any of these, so I would suggest that either none of this actually happened or that you may have heard a radio broadcast from a neighbour's radio
     
  5. Aug 18, 2011 #4
    Re: What household objects can pick up radio signals?

    I have looked through the TV and radio listings, but have not been able to find any broadcast of a football match. I'm not sure where the nearest radio transmitter is, but I am not far from the Sutton Coldfield TV transmitter.

    As to the event described not happening, if this is a real possibility, then I can only imagine that both my mother and myself shared an auditory illusion. However, this seems unlikely.
     
  6. Aug 19, 2011 #5
    Re: What household objects can pick up radio signals?

    That may be possible.
    You should look up crystal radios
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_radio
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_detector
    Especially the part about the "foxhole radio" in the second link is interesting.
    A crystal radio simply consists of an antenna, a crystal and a speaker.
    It doesn't need a power source since it's powered by the radio waves.
    It can only recieve strong AM radio transmitters though.
    All kind of substances can be used for the crystal. Including metal oxides which naturally form on metal objects like spoons or tins. The part of the antenna could be played by the human body.
    The only thing I can not explain is how the tin could have acted as a speaker.
     
  7. Aug 21, 2011 #6
    Re: What household objects can pick up radio signals?

    The mystery has been solved. The sound of the football crowd happened again today. However, it seemed to be coming from the teaspoon holder. My mother realised it was coming from a bottle opener, which she has recently bought, and which plays the sound of an England game when used. Obviously, when I removed the teaspoon, I had set off the bottle opener, the sound from which seemed to be coming from the tin of olives. Now I feel stupid.
     
  8. Aug 22, 2011 #7

    berkeman

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    Re: What household objects can pick up radio signals?

    Awesome! It's great to find this out. Thanks for letting us know. :biggrin:
     
  9. Aug 22, 2011 #8
    Thats great to hear. The whole crystal radio thing really had me thinking . . haha
     
  10. Aug 27, 2011 #9
    Re: What household objects can pick up radio signals?

    The mystery's been resolved by less exotic means, but the olive tin could actually have been behaving as a rectifier: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rectifier#Electrolytic

    You still need an antenna and a transducer, though, and crystal radios need either very long antennas or very strong signals. A tin of olives and a metal spoon might just serve as a detector if you had these things, though.
     
  11. Aug 16, 2012 #10
    Rofl :d !!!
     
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