Most Sydneysiders will be aware that the Sydney Morning Herald’s popular feature, Column 8, is a kind of clearing house for matters both trivial and of great import regarding comings and goings around this great city. Club publicity officer/attention whore, Richard VK2SKY (with the help of several club members) was recently awarded a rare and coveted “C8PhD”, and garnered the club a bit of publicity into the bargain. For posterity, here is the correspondence leading up to the award.
Column 8, 8th February 2011:
More potentially useful techno-advice, this time from Richard Murnane, of Hornsby, who writes: ”Now that James Argument has brought up the subject of digital cameras, I feel compelled to point out how useful they are for testing TV/DVD/STB/etc. remote controls. (From time to time we all have our doubts about whether the remote is working.) Simply switch on the camera (camcorders can do this, too), point the remote at the camera lens, and press a button on the remote. If the remote control is working, you’ll see its infra-red LED flashing away merrily on the camera’s preview screen.”
And now the weirdest techno-item of the lot. There may well be a C8PhD to the reader who can explain this, from David Matters, of Belrose, who asks: ”Have other Column 8ers noticed that by pressing one’s keyless car remote to the side of one’s head (much like a pistol to the brain) you can unlock the vehicle some five to 10 metres further from the car than if you use it in the normal fashion? My head seems to amplify the signal. But, alas, I suspect that such behaviour has fried my brain, because this all seems so normal to me.”
”Regarding the C8PhD on offer,” writes Peter Riley, of Penrith (Column 8, Tuesday), ”I present my thesis. The range of a keyless car remote can indeed be extended by pressing it to the side of your head. It works even better if you press it under your chin with your mouth open while looking directly at the car. Just as light passing through a lens slows down, which causes refraction and focuses the light, radio waves passing through the brain also slow down and bend. The head is acting as a ball lens. Instead of the remote radiating its energy over a large angle it now focuses that energy into a comparatively smaller angle which allows the signal to travel further. Does it cause brain damage? I’ll let you know after a few more experiments.”
”Regarding the efficiency of car remotes,” writes Arthur Hay, of Carseldine, Queensland (Column 8, since Tuesday), ”there are two spots in the underground car park in Westfield Chermside where Toyota remotes do not work at all, regardless of how close you get to the car. The advice from the lady at the information desk (sorry, ‘concierge’) was that ‘something must be blocking it’, and that I should take the remote outside to get a clearer signal.” We will award the C8PhD for the best explanation of the mysterious ”head lens effect” tomorrow.
We’re not sure if this is the correct answer to the ”Why does my remote car key work over a longer distance when I shoot myself in the head with it?” query of last week, but it’s the best we’ve got. ”The brains trust at the Manly-Warringah Radio Society at Terrey Hills has this to offer,” writes Richard Murnane, of that organisation. ”Keyless remote controls transmit on a frequency of 433.92 MHz, which has a wavelength of about 69 centimetres. A person’s head, with a diameter of about one-quarter wavelength, can act as what’s known as a ‘resonant cavity’. Leaving aside the fact that in most cases the cavity works best when it’s empty, we propose that the resonant cavity augments the transmitter’s signal, like the soundbox on a guitar increases the volume of a plucked string. We radio hams aren’t just pretty faces. And, if truth be known, some of us aren’t even that.” Richard is awarded his C8PhD, and can now use the honorific ”Dr8” in correspondence. A copy of David Astle’s Puzzled is on its way.
Perhaps the best part of the story is that later that day, Tim VK2BT was entering the club for the TH-6 raising, when he was approached by one of our neighbours in Beltana Avenue. “Saw you in Column 8!”, the neighbour called out!
We are famous at last.
Next goal is to be awarded an Ig Nobel prize.