“Ding!” The mystery behind the bizarre signals that have baffled Australia’s most famous scientists for the past 17 years has finally been solved. What was it? the microwave in the kitchen!
Simon Johnston, the head of astrophysics at the CSIRO, the national science agency said that they first detected the signals in 1998. “They were reasonably local, say within 5km of the telescope” . Originally they assumed that the signals, that only were detected a few times per year were coming from the atmosphere from thunderstorms and suchlike.
On the 1st of Jan the team installed a new receiver that detects interference. This detected strong signals at the 2.4GHz range, the same that microwaves operate at. The scientists immediatley started testing the microwave and found no peytons, the type of signal the telescope was finding. However they then cooked something and opened the oven door. “If you set it to heat and pull it open to have a look, it generates interference”
Johnston said the “suspicious perytons” were only detected during the daytime and as they now know, not during the evening when all the staff had finished their shift.
The telescope was established in Parkes 50 years ago in what was “the middle of nowhere”, Johnston said, far away from any radio noise. But in recent years digital interference from the town was getting worse and worse.“There’s no mobile phone coverage, no radio station, no Wi-Fi – it’s pristine and quiet and we can look into the universe and see things that you can’t in Parkes.”
The signals were rare because the interference only occurred when the telescope was pointed in the direction of the microwave oven. And “when you only find a few it’s hard to pin them down”, Johnston said.
I think that’s pretty impressive, what do you think?
Thanks to the Guardian for providing us with this information.