Sunday, August 8, 2010

Channel 37

So I was reading the latest SBE newsletter and there was an op-ed by the SBE's General Counsel. I'm not going to talk about that op-ed because I don't know enough about the issues he mentions. What I do want to talk about is something mentioned in passing in that op-ed, TV channel 37.

Channel 37 is a channel that "has never been used by any over-the-air television station in Canada or the United States" ( Think about this for a minute. In all the umpteen million TV stations in the U.S. and Canada, nobody has ever used this channel. Why is this?

Turns out that channel 37 - or rather the frequency band from 608 MHz to 614 MHz - is very important to radio astronomy. Since radio astronomy deals with very weak signals - on the order of 10-18 watts - any activity on this channel has the potential of causing significant interference to those sorts of measurements ( It's also used in Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI), another technique used in radio astronomy and a subject I know nothing about. :)

So there's a bit of randomness for you. Reporting from the Channel 37 News Desk, I'm Kit Peters.

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