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Electromagnetic Emission Art

CmdrTaco posted more than 10 years ago | from the wonder-what-its-doing-to-your-nervous-system dept.

News 198

mr_lithic writes "The artist Richard Box has used the electromagnetic field generated by overhead transmission cables to power 1300 fluorescent lightbulbs positioned underneath. Some pictures available. Professor Denis Harshaw at Bristol University explains "There's an interactive element to all this, too, for those who go to the site itself. 'You affect the lights by your proximity', explains Richard Box, 'because you're a much better conductor than a glass tube. And there's sound as well as light - a crackling that corresponds to the flashing of the lights. There's a certain smell too, and your hair stands slightly on end.'" Sounds cool and it is on until February 29th. Directons here."

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198 comments

Emission Art ? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355478)

If that's the case you should check out the 'art' I left in my toilet

Vote RALPH NADER in 2004! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355578)

Or at least sign a ballot access petition.
Support third party candidates and break the DemoPublican majority.
Ralph just announced he is running for President and not on the Communist Green Party ticket but as a true independent.

Gentoo Linux~! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355482)

Gentoo Linux is the best for displaying art~!

Electricity fun (-1, Troll)

totorico (755369) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355509)

And eventually your brain will fry ...

Re:Electricity fun (5, Funny)

etLux (751445) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355703)

Well, I liiim, er, lvoplx, er, liiivee unnnder pwoer liens, and n-n-n-othin gggg has has has has has has has has [thwack thwack] huppened two too to MY brain.

The technology is going to kill us (4, Informative)

FePe (720693) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355516)

This is what the future is going to be like. [zen.co.uk]

Yeah, yeah chips in your hair. 2000.

A3 x 30. Taken in the studio this series of photographs depicts the artist fending off a swarm of silicon chips as if they were flying insects. The work deals with the effect, intended or not, of technology on the individual.

Re:The technology is going to kill us (0)

MDMurphy (208495) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355602)

It could be an illustration for Michael Crichton's "Prey", where the villans were swarms of silicon nano-bots

GlassWEAR (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8356288)

Ouch.

electromagnetic waves kill also brain cells (1, Interesting)

stonebeat.org (562495) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355517)

other than powering flourecent lights, electromagnetic waves can also kill your brain cells. This is one art exhibit that i dont wanna go visit.

Re:electromagnetic waves kill also brain cells (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355563)

yet you will gladly drive along side them every day.

Re:electromagnetic waves kill also brain cells (5, Funny)

DarkHelmet (120004) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355565)

Yeah, at least if you're gonna kill your brain cells, do it with something fun like booze, pot or ecstacy.

Like the Joker says, "If you gotta go, go with a smile!"

Re:electromagnetic waves kill also brain cells (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355700)

pot doesn't kill brain cells...cops beating you over the head because you have some does.

Re:electromagnetic waves kill also brain cells (3, Informative)

glesga_kiss (596639) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356535)

Neither does ecstacy to be honest. The only study that "proved" permament damage was recently dubunked as they had done the experiment with amphetamines and not E! [www.cbc.ca] . Of course, the original study [hopkinsmedicine.org] is still cited as proof about the "dangers" of the drug despite this (and many other papers by the same research scientist) being completely thrown out by the scientific community. FACT: Going fishing carries about the same risk of death as going out clubbing on E. Horse riding is many times more dangerous! And with all three, if you understand the risks and take precautions, you can reduce the risk of death to practically zero.

But the parent post did mention beer. That does kill brain cells. You do it every time you get drunk. That's what drunk is; the poisioning of your brain by alcohol. And death on alcohol? Go and ask an ER doctor. Lots, never published in the news.

Of course, when the majority of anti-drug messages are funded by the booze industry you have to laugh. I quite like the one on DrugFreeAmerica.org, telling how Ecstacy almost killed a girl [drugfreeamerica.org] , until you actually read the article and find that it was GHB. Actually, all the articles on that site are just as bad, and they seem to have been written by the same person, very similar style etc. ALL LIES I TELL YOU!! ;-)

Re:electromagnetic waves kill also brain cells (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355577)

other than powering flourecent lights, electromagnetic waves can also kill your brain cells. This is one art exhibit that i dont wanna go visit.

That's a dilemma : people like you could visit the exhibit safely, since it takes having brain cells in the first place to have them killed off, but unfortunately retards don't seem to appreciate modern art (or any form of art for that matter).

Well, at least you can still post on Slashdot...

Power Lines have links to other Negative Effects (5, Interesting)

MidiSaxMan (755371) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355676)

Growing up on a farm, I have learned of the negative effects "stray voltages" cause to farm animals.

This is often linked to the power return to the station. Everywhere, electrical service has everything connected in relation to ground, with any difference in the power balance of the phases of power taking a different path back to the source of the power, i.e. the ground itself, and potentially through anything in its path.

This "stray voltage" manifests itself when animals, with 4 bare hooves, paws, etc. touching the ground, detect small but irritating (to varying degrees) levels of current taking an alternate path back to the source. Animals have also been proven to have a higher sensitivity for detecting stray currents as well, compared to humans.

Often in cases, to the power companies defense, they will come out to do a check on the premises, and often do find a problem in the local, on-farm wiring, potentially causing the problem.

Unfortunately, in the cases of newer farms where all the wiring is new and up-to-code, a stray current is often traced to off-the-farm sources, for example, a newly-installed High-voltage Power Line.

Re:Power Lines have links to other Negative Effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355988)

I just can't buy this. Working with networks between buildings, ground differences are never more than a few volts, not even enough to tickle. The current carrying capacity is huge, though, leading to ground fault currents that might range into hundreds of amps fro less than a volt of potential difference. This is the reason that all network technologies involve electrical isolation from the network wiring.

More likely what your farm animals were responding to is the potential gradient established between the power lines and ground.

This reminds me of a lawsuit that OSU settled while I was a student there. They had some research going on in high voltage power distribution lines (~ 100 kvolts). The lines were run over farms outside of Columbus. Mounted about 200 feet above the ground, that gives a voltage gradient of about 500 volts per foot.

Well, it turns out that the owner of the property, a woman, was out working in the fields one day and squatted to take a piss. Urine, being the excellent conductor that it is, with about 500 volts potential across it (assuming that the source of urine was about 1 foot off the ground when she squatted) conducted electricity right through some sensitive parts!

She sued OSU for pain and suffering.

Sorry forgot the links. (2, Informative)

MidiSaxMan (755371) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356259)

Oops,sorry forgot the links, check it out yourself.
I also forgot to mention that animals can be sensitive to ground differentials as small as 0.5 to 1 volt depending upon conditions.

This engineer testifies under oath citing research performed by Doug Reinmann at University of Wisconsin stating those same facts.

Doctor Reinmann's research paper can be found here
(pdf reader required for some links)
http://www.uwex.edu/uwmril/stray_voltage/s vmain.ht m
http://www.strayvoltage.org/stories/index.php3? Sto ry=20010221_utility.inc

Re:Power Lines have links to other Negative Effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8356491)

I have some really bad news for you: the Sun has a giant-ass magnetic field, and the Earth intersects those field lines as it orbits around the Sun.... Guess what? There have been big ground currents in the Earth since a long time!

Re:Power Lines have links to other Negative Effect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8356637)

"Inverse Square Law?"

Re:electromagnetic waves kill also brain cells (1)

dnoyeb (547705) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356254)

You dont have to go see it, its seeing you right now. Probably those lines are higher voltage than your average city line, but there is voltage nontheless.

This is a strictly AC phenomonon.

And it should be noted that he is effectively stealing power with all those lightbulbs.

I find it hard to agree with the hair standing on end statement though as this is not static electricity. The current is always there, just because you brought some bulbs along does not mean there is more, in fact it means there is less.

Re:electromagnetic waves kill also brain cells (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8356618)

He's not stealing it; it belongs to the farmer whose field that presumably is and who presumably gave him permission for the installation. Just as the direct TV satellite broadcasts passing through my house and person belong to me. Also the 802.11b signal I'm using to post this, which originates at one of the buildings around here (don't know which, don't care). While it passes through my computer's antenna, it's mine.

Speaking in terms of good old common sense, of course. Your local legislation may diverge from that wisdom (as it often does).

Wrong physics (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355520)

The bulbs will be 'planted' across the site at the foot of an electricity pylon, and will pick up the waste emission from the overhead power line.

Not really. Lighting the bulbs most certainly reduces the power on the lines. The inductance of the power lines change because of the presence of the bulbs.

Re:Wrong physics (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355587)

Its called mutual inductance. The changing magnetic field in the power lines causes a changing magnetic field in the 'pylons'(which are most likely a coil oriented correctly). This causes a current in the coil due to Faraday's law. This current itself then generates its own EMF which Lenz's law then shows will have the opposite polarity of the power line magnetic field. Thus, this new magnetic field attempts to generate a current in the opposite direction in the power lines, increasing their resistance.
In short, he's using the power companies' power to light his bulbs. There are no 'waste emmisions'.

Re:Wrong physics (2, Insightful)

SloWave (52801) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355804)

I suspect the lights are lighted by the electric field instead of the magnetic field required for mutual inductance.

Re:Wrong physics (4, Insightful)

Doug Neal (195160) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355884)

They are both interdependant, you can't have one without the other. Mutual inductance will most definitely be happening in this case. It's all about conservation of energy as well - if all the energy that's going into lighting up those bulbs was just being radiated out and wasted anyway, don't you think there'd be a hell of a lot of energy going to waste? There is some loss on power transmission lines but it's not as much as that!

Re:Wrong physics (3, Interesting)

Dolphinzilla (199489) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356150)

Your correct - the tubes light because the electric field excites mercury ions inside the tube - AND energy that the tubes use is NOT free, the tubes with their little pins all sticking in the air create lower impedance paths to ground for the energy in the power lines to bleed off to - that is the points creates a high distribution of electrons tha nthe surrounding area and thus a high voltage.

Re:Wrong physics (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8356360)

You don't actually know what you're talking about, do you?

Re:Wrong physics (5, Funny)

smchris (464899) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355904)

So the moral is: instead of tin hats, people who live under power lines should coat their houses in light bulbs?

Science and Art (5, Interesting)

apirkle (40268) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355530)

I think it's very interesting that the artist, Richard Box, is an artist in residence with the Physics department at the University of Bristol.

It's cool to see art and science actively collaborating. From the article:

The Physics Department at the University of Bristol has played host to a number of artist residencies. In 2002 artist, Richard Box was awarded a Leverhulme Grant to become the department's third artist in residence. Whilst the starting point for other artists have varied, Richard's main interest was in the specialist glass blowing workshop that is integrated alongside the rest of the physics research activities. His interest in glass has always required him to have objects made by others, this residency offered him the chance to begin to learn how to develop his own glass blowing skills and so have greater authority over his own work.

Re:Science and Art (4, Interesting)

colmore (56499) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355682)

I think it's really interesting that the physics department over there seems make this sort of thing a habit. Universities are so often extremely tight penny penchers, I'm impressed that someone was able to convince the bean counters that this is worthwhile.

I think the sculpture itself is really pretty, it reminds me of De Maria's Lightning Field [lightningfield.org] , another large scale installation that uses the surrounding environment.

free power (4, Interesting)

mistered (28404) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355543)

This technique of using the field from high voltage transmission lines has reportedly been used by farmers to power lights in a barn or electrify a fence as this anecdote [google.ca] suggests. The power utilities supposedly have gone after those using the "free" power. I'm not sure how truthful any of these stories are though.

Also, check out some of his other art [zen.co.uk] . "A rotating, pulsating, elevating, sound and movement activated, life-size neon brain." Now that's just strange.

Re:free power (4, Interesting)

Hao Wu (652581) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355646)

Isn't this what the Navy used to spy on Soviet sea cables?

ref: Operation Ivy Bells [randomhouse.com]

Re:free power (2, Interesting)

SixDimensionalArray (604334) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356282)

This was during the spy era of the Cold War, and it was Operation Ivy Bells. The submarine responsible was the specially outfitted USS Halibut.

As for how they actually listened in, it was not exactly picking up EMF from outside the cable. Rather, they simply tapped the copper wire by physically inserting some new wire into the cable right alongside the old wire and planting a recording device.

It's not very difficult to do, and you won't easily be detected when you do it (unlike tapping fiber cable, which can instantly be detected). What's more curious about this case is after some time, when they went back to the location, the recording devices were missing! ;)

Re:free power (2, Interesting)

SloWave (52801) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355840)

You can get quite a bit of power with just a few loops of wire in the right place under the high tension lines. It would be stealing since you are putting additional load on the power lines. However the lights in the article are being by the electric field driven by leakage current which is lost anyway.

Re:free power (1)

SloWave (52801) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355877)


Stupid Touch Pad!!!

>>>However the lights in the article are being by the electric field driven by leakage current which is lost anyway.

Re:free power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8356005)

Within the past few years there was a court case in which it was declared that stealing electricity via a wire running along the ground was illegal. Perhaps somebody with access to legal library can find the case. Utility companies patrol their lines looking for these kinds of "taps" and will not hesitate to press criminal charges.

Re:free power - DMCA violation (4, Funny)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356297)

The power company ought to claim that the power is encrypted, and that, by not using the authorized wired delivery system, the artist is stealing.

I am not allowed to use all the electromagnetic waves that pass thru my property.

Re:free power (1)

kwoff (516741) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356442)

I'd tell the power companies if they want me to not use the power, then keep it off my property.

directions (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355547)

What? No GPS coordinates?

Here in the Philippines (5, Interesting)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355548)

I toyed with ideas of free lighting (living close to high tension power lines)... seems a little pointless considering thousands of locals run jumper leads of the damn things anyway, with complete immunity from Meralco (Elec company)

Easier to jumper someone elses jumper leads anyway.

Re:Here in the Philippines (3, Interesting)

mistered (28404) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355614)

One of my friends had some trouble with his underground power connection. The utility inspected it while he was at work, and phoned him and told him they'd need to jumper his neighbour's power. When you're used to jumpers being little plastic caps that go over .1" spacing header pins, it's a little bit of a shock to come home and see a trio of 1/2" wires coming out of your meter, tied to the fence, and then running into the neighbour's.

Welcome to the future of America. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355657)

Welcome to the future of America if our jobs keep being offshored in the name of the Fortune 500's new god, Profit.

Re:Welcome to the future of America. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355775)

yes, god forbid, if the fortune 500 keeps it up, it will just be one more person in the Phillipines who can afford electricity; And I'll be damned before i let that happen...America can't be the greatest country in the world if everyone else has electricity. If god wanted the heathens to have elctricity he would have built them a power plant like he did for us precious americans

Re:Welcome to the future of America. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8356152)

We don't see any of you idiots building power plants for yourselves.

Re:Here in the Philippines (3, Informative)

HPNpilot (735362) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356556)

Nobody is running jumper leads to multihundred kV transmission lines. That would be outrageoulsy dangerous and difficult to do.

Even attaching to a 7 kV local HT line is beyond what most people could survive doing unless they were EXTREMELY lucky and had a decent amount of knowledge.

STAY AWAY FROM THESE LINES. NEVER NEVER NEVER ATTEMPT TO ATTACH TO THEM. DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. SERIOUSLY!

lost energy? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355555)

nice to see that someone is using that lost energy

Stealing energy (5, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355562)

The artist Richard Box has used the electromagnetic field generated by overhead transmission cables to power 1300 fluorescent lightbulbs positioned underneath

Technically, he scoops out energy from overhead lines. True, it's insignificant, but still he could be charged with theft. Of course, since it's art, I doubt anybody at the power company will say anything, but I wouldn't be surprised if they told him to take his art somewhere else.

A well know, similar "application", was demonstrated when wireless transmission technologies boomed in the 30s in Paris : the first antennas had been installed on top of the Eiffel tower and were putting out dozens of kilowatts. Some smart guy started selling battery-less flashlights under the tower, and a lot of gullible people bought them, amazed that they indeed created light magically without batteries. Little did they know the magic flashlights had a little coil inside that used the Eiffel tower antennas' HF power to light up the bulb, and therefore could only work under the tower. The flashlight seller was eventually caught and, far from being charged for scamming people, was charged for stealing TDF (French wireless authority) energy, which was apparently much worse.

But anyway, pretty cool art I say. The cows in the field nearby must have fun watching that every night.

Re:Stealing energy (1)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355615)

True, it's insignificant, but still he could be charged with theft.

Man who did your brainwash job? I've got some supermodels that need a similar degree of manipulation :) Whatever sucking up EM fields is, it sure isn't theft, no matter what the french say :)

Re:Stealing energy (5, Informative)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355655)

Whatever sucking up EM fields is, it sure isn't theft, no matter what the french say

You shouldn't have slept through your EE classes.

Having a coil under the Eiffel tower is exactly similar to having a secondary coil in a transformer : whenever you have a load drawing current on the secondary coil, the primary coil (in this case, the Eiffel tower's antennas) have to provide that power, despite the fact that there's no physical connection between the 2 coils. So if you have antennas putting out 50kW and a coil drawing 10W nearby, that's 10 less Watts in radio power.

This guy's art also draws energy from the power line. The tubes don't light up for free do they?

But I'll tell you what : if sucking up EM fields isn't theft, tell me where you live and I'll coil a long copper wire around a mile-long stretch of the powerline that goes to your house and power my trailer with it. I'm sure you won't mind the higher bill from the power company in your mailbox, since I'm not stealing anything...

Re:Stealing energy (2, Insightful)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355818)

I think that the courts would probably err on the side of you (and this guy) being able to have your coils wherever you want to have them as long as it's legal. Farting in the wind probably causes increased resistance for trucks driving down the road but no one would call it stealing.

Or illegal emissions? (4, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355823)

I think the piece is more of an artistic rebuttal of the assertion that these high energy transmission lines are safe for humans and animals.

If you've got an EM field that is powerful enough to light up 1000 light bulbs, it seems intuitive that there is enough energy to cause harm to humans living at similar distances.

Re:Stealing energy (2, Insightful)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355831)

Actually, I don't disgree with the physics of the situation, just the philisophical implications :)

If having an inductor under a power line is theft -- what isn't?

Other things that fit this definition of "theft" (4, Funny)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356064)

Breathing: you're taking oxygen that clearly was produced on a farm somewhere or maybe in the Amazon.

Tinfoil hats: these devices intercept electromagnetic waves and cause transmission losses.

Heat pumps: you didn't really think you could take all that "free" heat out of the air, did you?

Re:Stealing energy (2, Informative)

RandyOo (61821) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355953)

You said:
"But I'll tell you what : if sucking up EM fields isn't theft, tell me where you live and I'll coil a long copper wire around a mile-long stretch of the powerline that goes to your house and power my trailer with it. I'm sure you won't mind the higher bill from the power company in your mailbox, since I'm not stealing anything..."

Since the meter is normally located at/inside the residence, he wouldn't get a higher bill from the power company, would he?

Re:Stealing energy (3, Insightful)

BroncoInCalifornia (605476) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356341)

I can see this scenario:
Farmer who lives close to power line makes some big coils to nab some of the energy in the air around his house.

Power company: You are stealing our power. Stop.

Farmer: What are your E fields and H fields doing on my property. Get them off or let me use them as I see fit.

...

This could turn into quite a pissing contest!

Stealing or not? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355582)

Does arrangements like that actually "steal" any power from the powerlines, or would it be lost anyway if it was just air instead of neon tubes?

Re:Stealing or not? (5, Informative)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355617)

Does arrangements like that actually "steal" any power from the powerlines, or would it be lost anyway if it was just air instead of neon tubes?

They do draw energy from the line. If they weren't there, the voltage differential in the static field would stay high and no (or little) current would be sinked into the ground under the tube.

Another proof: assume each tube spits out the equivalent of 10W in light, there must be like 1000 tubes in that field, so they burn about 10kW all the time. I don't think the ground underneath normally sinks 10kW for each 100mx100m square : if it did, it would heat up, and very long lines would lose so much power over the distance that they would bankrupt the power companies.

Re:Stealing or not? (3, Insightful)

gordguide (307383) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355813)

He is using a source of energy, and translating it into work.

The source of energy is clearly owned by an identifiable person or group. Therefore the use of that energy is actionable. The right-of-way that allows the powerline in the first place gives the power company further arguments to strengthen their position.

The amount of energy used is measurable. Therefore he could be billed for it. Need I go on?

A smart Power Company would probably like it all to just go away, because it raises the possibility of health issues, so making a big deal out of it probably isn't a good idea.

Then again, a smart law firm that senses an opportunity to bill a few hours might convince a gullible board to pursue it. There are plenty of reasonable arguments that could be offered to encourage them to re-affirm rights over the use of borrowed power in this fashion (even though those rights are well established already). Companies don't always do what is in their best interest.

If it becomes popular or more common (negating the value of shutting up about it) expect to see the lawyers get a call.

As a final note: consider that the actual means to use the power is irrelevant; just because it doesn't directly connect to the grid means nothing, now that it's proven it's not necessarily a prerequisite to using the energy in the first place. it's just a technical detail.

NOT STEALING (-1, Flamebait)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355914)

AAAAUGH! Please stop the "poor power companies" routine!

If there is any stealing going on here, it's the power companies *stealing* the productive capacity of the land through which they string these hazards.

Farmers usually aren't compensated and have no choice when powerlines need to be run across their land. They end up with lower property values, ugly metal towers to have to look at, and cancer-ridden cattle and children.

And don't think this is increasing anyone's electric bill, either: those are metered at the point of usage. Everything from the power plant to your meter, including cows and trees and fluorescent lightbulbs, are included in the 50% of your electric bill that already goes towards "transmission losses".

It's a stupid, inefficient system that wouldn't be any less inefficient if *everyone* decided to put fluorescent lightbulbs under the nearest power line. Besides, I don't even think it meets *any* of the physical requirements of theft.

Re:Stealing or not? Mod Parent Down (Redundant) (0, Redundant)

sheapshearer (746106) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356154)

Come one now, this has already been throughly answered. Why was he modded intereseting?

Think about it this way: If you have your car running at 3000rpm in neutral, does it use the same amount of fuel as the same car pulling a boat up a hill running at 3000rpm?

Of course not!

When radio transmitters transmit, they do see a 'load' imposed by the air and surrounding objects. A misconfigured antenna can burn out a transmitter essentially because it loads the radio too much (well it creates SWR, etc).

A transmitter without an antenna cannot impart its full power into the air, just as there is no 'wasted' energy by having an unconnected battery. You can think of antennas as ways to connect something to the air (bad analogy though).

Well, powerlines are pretty simliar to a long wire antenna....

The lights in the article do place an extra load on the powerlines. Well, the neat thing about electricity is that electric current, electric fields, and magnetic fields are all related (Mawell's Law, etc).

You don't actually need wires to carry electricity (its just a heck of a lot easier in practice).

At last, an event near me! (5, Interesting)

Chilliwilli (114962) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355604)

Will be headed out there with a camera ASAP. Perhaps local /.ers should arrange a meeting time and all go at once.

Re:At last, an event near me! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355650)

Physical slashdotting? There's a new idea.

Theft? (5, Funny)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355623)

Is this theft? I ask because in the past, before the current overkill laws againts computer crime, crackers where charged with theft of electricy. Could he be charged?

Not theft. (1)

nicklaszlo (720488) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355685)

I don't think so, because the magnetic field will be there if it's being used or not. It's just passive absorbtion of the company's waste.

Re:Not theft. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355717)

Yes, it is theft. See one of the many other posts about why (I don't feel like repeating it all.)

Theft. (1)

frause (234486) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355729)

It is more or less the same as plugging in a transformer on the powerline to power the lights.

The question is where we draw the line of theft.

Not Theft (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355950)

It is more or less the same as plugging in a transformer on the powerline to power the lights.

And so is simply standing anywhere within 100 feet of something like this. *Everything* within earshot causes a measurable increase in the resistance of power lines. It's not theft just because, in this case, the amount of power diverted is more than it otherwise would be.

Re:Not theft. (1)

Shinglor (714132) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355824)

So where do you think the energy would go otherwise? The ground? It would get extremely hot.

Re:Not theft. (2, Interesting)

wes33 (698200) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355913)

no it is theft; iirc the drawing of energy from the field will increase inductance (??) and somewhat decrease the power transmitted on the line (not much). I've heard tell of people using this method to light billboards and being charged with power theft ... might be just an urban legend.

I once got quite a little jolt from touching a barbed wire fence that ran parallel to a high tension wire ... kind of like those electric fences used for animals (no current so I'm here to write about it, but plenty of volts). Speaking of urban myths (or not), I've also been told a story of someone being killed by touching a large metal pipeline that ran parallel to major power lines.

Edible Electromagnetic Emission Art (5, Informative)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355658)

Microwaving chocolate [about.com] is a fun way to both measure the speed of light and get some edible artifacts of the patterns of the electromagnetic fields inside a microwave oven.

Re:Edible Electromagnetic Emission Art (2, Insightful)

sploxx (622853) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355863)

The problem is that you not measure the speed of light but the wavelength of microwaves. To get to the speed of light, you'll have to know the frequency of the microwaves.

Re:Edible Electromagnetic Emission Art (1)

Bagels (676159) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355864)

Yeah, that came up on Slashdot quite a while ago... I seem to recall that it only works with a very specific type of microwave (one that doesn't have a fan in it to scatter the microwaves - they're very rare, only found in really old ones).

[Now OT] Re:Edible Electromagnetic Emission Art (4, Funny)

ahoehn (301327) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356286)

I was grading papers for a college writing class the other day when I came across a paper that a student had written about measuring the speed of light using the microwaving chacolate method. At first I thought he was just making shit up, but then I looked it up on the interweb, and lo and behold, he hadn't made it up.

Granted, he had copied his paper almost word for word from the interweb and I failed him for that, which just goes to show that it's dangerous to write papers that interest the graders.

Reconfigure the Lines (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8355680)

The power company deserves to have their power stolen because they are too cheap to reconfigure their lines to reduce the electromagentic output:

http://tdworld.com/ar/power_line_designs_reduce/

Re:Reconfigure the Lines (3, Insightful)

cperciva (102828) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355850)

Let me guess: People deserve to have their cars stolen because they are too cheap to install expensive anti-theft devices?

Or is it only large corporations which deserve to be stolen from?

Re:Reconfigure the Lines (1)

frause (234486) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355899)

Or is it only large corporations which deserve to be stolen from?

Yes?

Re:Reconfigure the Lines (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8356009)

Not having an expensive anti-theft device doesn't impact the health of those around the car.

So yes, if the power company is impacting the health and well-being of those who live near power lines then they deserve to have all of their power stolen.

Whatever goes through my body is mine.

Re:Reconfigure the Lines (1)

kwoff (516741) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356470)

No, also people who support large corporations over actual people.

Someday it will be illegal to use the sunlight directly from the sun.

Re:Reconfigure the Lines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8356662)

People deserve to have their cars stolen because they are too cheap to install brakes

Re:Reconfigure the Lines (1)

tzanger (1575) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356041)

I'd be really nice if that article actually had figures 1 through 3 so I could see the configuraiton. :-)

Forest (1)

shoemakc (448730) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355759)


The inductance of the power lines change because of the presence of the bulbs.

A new spin on the "Tree falling in the forest" enigma, isn't it? :-)

-Chris

Re:Forest (2, Interesting)

frause (234486) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355803)


A new spin on the "Tree falling in the forest" enigma, isn't it? :-)

No, more like a new spin on "fair use" (or something).
If you walk under the powerline and thus happens to draw current from it without paying, is it then theft?

Reminds me of school (5, Interesting)

panurge (573432) | more than 10 years ago | (#8355841)

This is a true story. I was there, I saw it.

Our physics teacher was using the Van der Graaf for an experiment (in fact, he was intending to measure the current it produced). Over the demonstrator's bench, a fluorescent tube was flickering. He got annoyed. He climbed on a stool to remove the offending fluorescent.

You can guess the rest. The remote end of the tube dropped towards the van der Graaf. About 10cm from the dome, there was a spark. The dome discharged through the tube, which flashed, the physicist, and the stool. Most impressive.

The tube survived falling on the bench. We learned several things from this:

  • Contrary to belief, our teacher knew the f-word.
  • The current was actually so small, as it had to pass down a wooden stool, that he was unhurt.
  • Given enough volts, wood conducts.

It seems people have been sued for this (4, Interesting)

enosys (705759) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356019)

A while ago I searched for info about this sort of thing online. It seems that farmers using fences or long wires to get power have been sued for it. I've even read about people who lived close to high power transmitters running fluorescent tubes from small antennas and being sued for it. This is mainly just from usenet posts but I feel there's enough info out there to show that at least some of this was real.

I also remember one of my high school teachers talking about how he used to work for hydro and look for this sort of thing while flying in a helicopter and inspecting power lines.

Really it shouldn't be that hard to find this sort of thing. You can just use a time domain reflectometer, and power companies have these for finding cable faults.

Re:It seems people have been sued for this (3, Interesting)

MemoryAid (675811) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356320)

Okay, you got me with the "time domain reflectometer." That sounds like something Professor Frink might mention on The Simpsons.

Seriously, though, how about a little detail on what that does? I suppose I could Google it, but here's my guess:

The device measures the distance along the line to an increased area of inductive load by timing the reflection of a signal from that part of the line. The helicopter then flies out that far and looks for an antenna.

Here's another question: Why are British power companies referred to as 'hydro?' Is hydro-electric the default method of producing electricity there? Or is power transmitted around the country using high pressure hydraulic lines and then converted to electricity on site? :-)

These questions keep me awake at night (briefly).

Re:It seems people have been sued for this (5, Informative)

enosys (705759) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356500)

The time domain reflectometer (TDR) injects a signal into a wire and then gives you some info about reflections that happen. It essentially measures impedance along the line and so it will show anything inductive, resistive or capacitive on it.

I'm sure a lot of people here have heard about TDRs being used to troubleshoot network cables.

As for electric companies being called hydro, I'm in Canada (A former British colony and in the Commonwealth) and it's the same here. It really doesn't make that much sense anymore because most power comes from other sources.

Re:It seems people have been sued for this (1)

lommer (566164) | more than 10 years ago | (#8356577)

You asked two questions, and gave two possible answers, and both are surprisingly 100% correct.

Slightly off topic but... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8356478)

Would headphones (earphones) cause any "death in braincells" if worn constantly? Since they have magnets in them.. just wondered if any of it pertains ?

/l
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