Posted Mon Jul 24, 2017 at 06:20 PM PDT by Steven Cohen
Hate TV static? Blame the Big Bang.
Remember all that crinkling static you used to see on old TVs when the cable or antenna reception was bad? Well, despite looking like little more than flashing noise, some of those snowy pixels actually originated from a genuinely amazing source... the very creation of the universe itself.
That's right, about one percent of TV static comes from the light of the Big Bang. Seriously. Kinda makes you feel bad about smacking the set every time the cable went out, doesn't it? Check out the video below from the Science Channel for a full explanation.
The discovery was first made in 1964 when astronomers tried to listen to radio signals from space but kept picking up an unwanted background hum. At first, the researchers thought the cause might be pigeon droppings in their receiver so they swept the equipment and tried again. Alas, the noise was still there. Later, a physicist at Princeton proposed that the sound they were hearing might not actually be bird droppings at all. Instead, it could be something a tad more interesting: the afterglow of the fireball created during the Big Bang. In essence, part of the static we see and hear in TVs comes from the cosmic microwave background, a type of electromagnetic radiation formed during the early days of the universe that has been moving through space ever since.
So, basically, light has been traveling for billions of years across countless solar systems and vast oceans of stars to screw up your TV reception right before the game winning touchdown. Thankfully, modern digital displays, antennas, and cable receivers don't really have to deal with static anymore, but it might be worth busting out that old tube TV again just to catch a small peek back into the creation of the universe.
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