By Jonny Lupsha, Wondrium Staff Writer
An 18-month mystery of daily broadband problems resulted from an old TV set, BBC News reported. An old television that a local resident switched on in the morning was found to be the source of the disturbance. Force fields affect electrical disturbances.
According to the BBC, a curious technological mishap was resolved last month in a remote Welsh village. “The mystery of why an entire village lost its broadband every morning at 7 a.m. was resolved when engineers discovered an old television was to blame,” the article said. “An unnamed householder in Aberhosan, Powys, was unaware the old set would emit a signal which would interfere with the entire village’s broadband.
“Openreach engineers were baffled by the continuous problem and it wasn’t until they used a monitoring device that they found the fault: the householder would switch their TV set on at 7 every morning and electrical interference emitted by their second-hand television was affecting the broadband signal.”
Electricity works magic with forces of attraction and repulsion.
A Brief History of Force Fields
“How can a charge somehow reach out through empty space and affect another charge?” asked Dr. Steven Pollock, Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “Space itself is modified over here [in a locality], and so if I have an electric charge, it notices the character of the space it’s living in and it feels forces.
“This crazy idea is the idea of a force field, and once we can think about force fields, it will help us to visualize electric forces and magnetic forces and it will allow us to move beyond these particular forces.”
Dr. Pollock said that our concept of force fields largely owes to Michael Faraday, a 19th-century British physicist. Many of Faraday’s experiments at a local lab and his theories led to many of our “greatest discoveries of electricity.” His lack of classical, rigorous mathematical training helped him think outside the box and come up with major new ideas in physics.
Understanding Force Fields and Gravitational Fields
To visualize the idea of a force field, Dr. Pollock said to imagine a mattress with a bowling ball placed on its center. It may help to picture them from an overhead view looking down.
If a marble were placed on the mattress, it would roll downhill to the bowling ball. If this were performed several times while drawing the path of the marble on the mattress, then the marble could be removed and the force field would be the resulting image of traced pathways leading to the bowling ball.
“There’s no object there, there’s nothing happening there, but something would happen if I put an object down,” he said. “It would feel a force if there were an object there. That’s the basic idea of a force field.”
So what about gravitational fields? Instead of a bowling ball on a mattress, Dr. Pollock said, imagine the Sun in outer space. If the same test were performed, the marble or small object would be drawn towards the Sun and its path could be drawn, or at least mapped by a computer. Then, if all the planets and objects in the solar system were removed, leaving only the Sun, would there still be gravity?
“The source of the gravitational field is still there, but are no other objects,” he said. “It’s an ambiguous question, but the force field is still there whether you put something down or not. Outer space itself contains this force field. The field is a real thing; it’s just a slightly more abstract thing than a particle or an object.”
It’s understandable to be confused by the idea of an old TV set switching on and disturbing a village’s broadband service, but in light of how electricity-based force fields affect the world around them, it makes a bit more sense. BBC News said the embarrassed resident promised not to use the television again.
Dr. Steven Pollock contributed to this article. Dr. Pollock is Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He earned his BS in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his master’s degree and PhD in Physics from Stanford University.