Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Truth About Tinfoil Hats

Some people have too much free time. That's about the only explanation I can come up with for this group of MIT researchers who decided to explore the effectiveness of aluminum foil for blocking out the crazy - with science! According to tinfoil hat advocates, the metal shields the brain from potentially mind-controlling radio waves. However, the researchers found that the reality was much more complex.

Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals. Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified. These amplified frequencies coincide with radio bands reserved for government use according to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities. We speculate that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason.


I will add that from a magical perspective I've always considered aluminum to be one of the metals associated with Mercury, which rules communication. Since the radio waves feared by paranoids have never been measured or demonstrated in any empirical manner, perhaps what they are shielding against is magical or spiritual rather than physical. Or maybe the whole idea is just as ridiculous as it sounds. One thing's for sure - these guys were totally robbed by the Ig Nobel Prize commission when this study came out back in 2005. The physics prize that year was awarded for a study on a glob of black tar that was published way back in 1984.

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5 comments:

Hypnovatos said...

I agree... this is a total Ig Noble prize winner. I also have to say that anyone that grew up with a crappy aerial antenna on their tv knows that aluminium is great for boosting signal, not blocking it. Now, a lead helmet.. encased in ceramic tokeep it from leeching into you... may be a better way to go...just putting it out there

Scott Stenwick said...

There you go! Lead would be perfect. It's attributed to Saturn, too. Next thing you know, you'll be getting disputes between the "tinfoilers" and the "leadfoilers" over whose method works best. Each side, of course, would believe the other to be completely insane...

Hypnovatos said...

Laugh as you might, but here in the Bay Area, the power company has switched to Smart Meters where each one sends a signal strong enough to make it to a junction box blocks away. There is a bank of 15 of them near my work area, and i can feel a difference from before and after. Almost like an annoying humming in my head. Im looking for a cost effective route to line the wall and door to my work area that blocks radio and network/internet waves. Lead costs a fortune when you look to buy a 6x12' section :p

Morgan Eckstein said...

Actually, this experiement may have came from the "we have to do something that no one else has ever done before" school of research.

Scott Stenwick said...

@Hypnovatos: That's got to be a real bummer. The modern world is so awash in EMF that it can't be much fun to be sensitive to it.

One method you might want to consider is something like the structure of a Farraday cage. You can work with a less expensive metal than lead if you can somehow connect it to a ground. It also doesn't need to be a full sheet - a fine enough mesh will do. That will absorb a substantial percentage of EMF at a quite a few different frequencies. In fact, one of my questions for the tinfoil hat set in light of this research is whether or not they've considered grounding their helmets. I'd think that could increase their effectiveness versus radio waves a great deal.

@Morgan: Yes, I suspect that probably had a lot to do with it!