Sometimes I forget that I’m supposed to be a writing articles about science for HelloGiggles – I usually go off the rails writing bizarre cultural diatribes – but occasionally, science will slap me in the face with its big empirical knowledge covered hand, and I’ll be forced to remember that science… exists.
I was spending my time how I spend way too much of my time: sitting at the computer, thoughtlessly clicking through a never ending loop of websites, occasionally sending a poop emoticon in GChat, listening to music, when strangeness happened. The album I was listening to ended, and in the silence I heard voices. Voices, in my empty house. Uh-oh. No, wait… it’s voices from my headphones. Or voices from my head? No, no, it’s voices from my headphones. But there’s no music playing on my computer, no hidden talking pop-ups, I didn’t win 500 free smilies. I quit every application, and turned my volume all the way down, but the voices persisted. I started to listen to the voices more carefully, tried to understand their cryptic message.
A sudden wave of nostalgia: the rec room at summer camp, the back of a friend’s SUV, an awkward classroom birthday party, a bus, really any situation from 1996-2003 where I didn’t have control over the radio. It was Radio Disney.
Radio Disney was coming out of my computer headphones for no reason, even with the computer’s volume all the way down. I continued to listen, trying to figure out where it was coming from. I moved my foot off my metal radiator where it’d been resting, because the radiator was getting hot. The voices stopped. I put my foot back; the voices resumed. I realized I was a circuit; I had one arm on my metal desk, my feet on the metal radiator, I was completing some kind of demonic radio circuit, one that was pumping Radio Disney through my veins. Radio Disney flowed through me. I was Radio Disney, and Radio Disney was I. I was like a crappy version of the mom from Pete and Pete: I could pick up the radio with my body, but only in a certain position, and only Radio Disney.
So now let’s get down to the science of it. I started to experiment: I moved around a little and I could actually increase and decrease the strength of the signal. A song came on: at first I thought it was the “Whisper Song” which would be hugely inappropriate for Radio Disney, then I realized it was Sir Justin Bieber’s ‘Boyfriend.’ I continued to experiment’ I even tried turning my computer off: the teen pop still came through. That was when I realized I was sitting in silence, by myself, in a dimly-lit room, very seriously and studiously listening to Justin Bieber.
I took my feet off the radiator.
I don’t know how these things work; my first genius theory was that maybe there’s a homeless person living in my basement listening to Radio Disney on his little hobo radio, and when he leans against the basement radiator, the signal gets up through the pipes to my radiator, through my body and to the headphones.. That’s the comforting possibility, a guy living in my basement who listens to Radio Disney all the time. But then I realized that was too awesome to be the truth so I hit up Google. My main concern was making sure I wasn’t hearing voices in my head, voices that manifested themselves as a perfect Radio Disney broadcast.
It took me awhile to find good information, but people on very reliable sources like Yahoo! Answers and the forum for Adult Swim provided some good answers: basically radios are very simple machines, so its easy to emulate it with other electronic equipment, and speakers are made to receive sound data, so they do it all the time. For some people, you don’t even need a computer, just a pair of headphones. According to one guy with an anime character avatar on Yahoo! answers, “All you need to pick up radio signals is a pair of headphones, a piece of wire, a toilet paper tube, a pencil and a rusty razor blade!” which is pretty cool.