Electromagnetic Escher Mazes

The previous two posts have led to a number of interesting links, including several comments over at Reddit that seem worth reproducing here.

There, a commenter named clicksnd “used to be in a special forces Signal Detachment (as a server guy) and got awesome cross training from our radio section. One cool thing they taught us is that if we ever needed to boost range, we could wire up to a fence or, in a pinch, knife a tree and wire to it!” When you need a radio, in other words, considering just sticking some metal in a tree.

To that, someone named pavel_lishin responds: “I remember hearing a story, possibly apocryphal, about a college radio station that used some nearby railroad tracks as their broadcasting antenna, and it worked well enough for the entire town to receive the signal clearly. In fact, it worked a little too well. Someone drove up from a town a couple of hundred miles away, and asked them to knock it off, since the signal was being broadcast all the way down there and interfering with a different radio station.” Perhaps you could broadcast a radio station via all the nails in the walls of an abandoned suburb.

Finally, replying to someone mocking the idea that antennas have ever been more complex than “just a piece of metal connected to a receiver,” someone named cuddlebadger says that, on the contrary, “the field has progressed a bit since 1919,” when those tree-antennas were first being proposed. Today, cuddlebadger writes, “we have fractal antennas that look like [an] MC Escher drawing and work incredibly well. Genetic algorithms that design alien-looking antennas that are barely visible yet outperform many all-human designs. Someone even draws nanometer-scale antennas out of gold on tiny glass hemispheres for that extra efficiency. Antennas exist that can literally capture the electromagnetic radiation of sunlight!”

Electromagnetic Escher mazes made of gold, picking up emanations from stars: technology as myth achieved by other means.

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