THIS IS WHAT WIFI SIGNALS WOULD LOOK LIKE IF WE COULD SEE THEM
By now you’ve probably read about concerns regarding wifi signals and the health of plants and animals. Whether it is bees or plants there seems to be evidence to suggest that these signals have more of an effect on the environment than we realize. What this means long term is unknown but nobody seems concerned about it because status updates and tweets are just too damn important.
Rather than focusing on the health aspects, others have focused on the hidden aesthetics of the digital soup we are all swimming in on a continuous basis. This is great because it gives us perspective about WiFi in a way we’ve likely never had before.
Artist Nickolay Lamm created visualizations that imagine the size, shape, and color of wi-fi signals were they visible to the human eye. As he explained to Motherboard:
“I feel that by showing what wi-fi would look like if we could see it, we’d appreciate the technology that we use everyday,” Lamm told me in an email. “A lot of us use technology without appreciating the complexity behind making it work.”
To estimate what this would look like, Lamm worked with M. Browning Vogel, Ph.D., an astrobiologist and former employee at NASA Ames. Dr. Vogel described the science behind wireless technology, and Lamm used the information to create the visualizations.
Dr. Vogel provided captions for each illustration explaining the science of wi-fi. The caption for the illustration at the top of the article describes the size of a wi-fi energy field, and how a signal is transmitted. It says:
“Wifi is an energy field that is transmitted as waves. The waves have a certain height, distance between them and travel at a certain speed. The distance between wifi waves is shorter than that of radio waves and longer than that of microwaves, giving wifi a unique transmission band that can’t be interrupted by other signals. Wifi waves are about 3 to 5 inches from crest to crest. The crests of waves is translated to a 1 by a computer, and the the troughs equal a 0. Chains of 1s and 0s that can be translated into the letters, numbers and codes that make up websites, email and other internet content. Typical wifi waves decrease in amplitude as they travel further from the source which is why the waves are larger to the right and smaller to the left, assuming the source is somewhere near the right of the image. This image shows an idealized wifi data transmitted over a band that is divided into different sub-channels, which are shown in red, yellow, green and other colors.”
Dr. Vogel explains:
Wifi waves travel through space as rapid, data encoded pulses or waves. A freeze frame of these pulses would show that the pulses are about 6 inches apart (as shown by the lightly colored bands traveling through space in this image). Wifi routers are basically antenna that can send data over multiple frequencies all at the same time. These multiple frequencies are shown as blue, green, yellow, and red colors that pervade the space around the mall. The data from these multiple frequencies swirls around in space as shown here, but can be translated using a common tag system understood by wireless devices.
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