© csiro General | May 05, 2015
Celestial phenomenon was - yes - the Microwave oven
In this day and age, the buzz created by electronic devices can be a real nuisance. Especially if you are an astronomer.
The story goes as follows: in 1998, Australian scientists working with the (very remote) Parkes radio telescope started picking up some weird signals. Not too often, but ones or twice a year. At first, it was assumed it was some kind of lightning strikes. The signals were, as far as the team could tell, quite local in its nature. The theory was that somehow it appeared in the atmosphere. However, the real revelation came earlier this year. After 17 years of pondering, that is. A new receiver was installed in the facility and it picked up some really strong signals at 2.4 GHz: the signature of a microwave oven. So, according to the Guardian, the team started to carry out tests with the microwave running. No results. Until, that is, the microwave was running and someone opened the door before it was finished heating. Bingo. You see, what made the phenomenon even more elusive is that the astronomers operating the telescope usually does so remotely. The facility is, however, maintained by local staff using the microwave to heat coffee and food. This also explains why the strange signals were only detected daytime during working hours. And why the interference only occurred when the telescope pointed in the direction of the Microwave oven. So, I guess after 17 years we can now conclude: Science vs. Technology 1-0.