A little town where wireless really means less

Ever hear of a small town called Green Bank, West Virginia? Until tonight, I hadn’t either. It’s a relatively small community of around 140 people as of the 2010 census and is about four hours from Washington, D.C. 

What makes this town interesting is that it’s localed in the middle of the National Radio Quiet Zone, a 13,000 square mile exclusion zone where all forms of wireless radios and transmitters are illegal to use. This includes wifi, Bluetooth, cellphones, AM/FM and pretty much anything that transmits (with very few exceptions). 

The reason? Because it’s home to the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, the worlds largest steerable radio telescope. The ground stations are described as “so sensitive that it can pick up the energy equivalent to a single snowflake hitting the ground“. That’s pretty amazing if you ask me. 

The radio morrotorium has also attracted new residents, those who suffer from a condition called electromagnetic hypersensitivity, which is basically folks who are sensitive to electromagnetic fields. 

The Washingtonian wrote a great story about the history of the area, the people and dynamics in that region if you’re interested in reading more. Time well spent. 

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