Echoes of the big bang are still heard from signals bouncing off lonely galaxies into man-made space listening devices, metal dishes and concrete ears perked up to receive the cooled radiation that has permeated the universe for nearly 15 billion years. We’ve only been emitting our own for a century or so.
The modern-day ether is cluttered with a multitude of transmissions, from mobile phone conversations beaming every which way through the lower atmosphere, to the latest lubricious single titillating us through our car radios. Ours is truly a broadcast age, yet the vast majority of signals slip away unheard. We tune in at very selected frequencies, and only when it suits us. The vox populi is relegated to the equivalent of public-access television.
Governments use a huge section of bandwidth for defense purposes, communicating with satellites, and even as a kind of non-lethal weapon (See, 95 GHz: a two-second burst of the stuff can heat the skin of a person to a temperature of 130° F [54° C] at a depth of 1/64th of an inch [0.4 mm], causing the person to do whatever it takes to flee).
Aviation and space travel depend on radio transmissions, as we know tragically from the case of the Brazilian 737 downed when it collided in midair with a smaller plane whose transponder was turned off, and more optimistically by the Apollo missions as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first lunar landing. Guglielmo Marconi may not have envisioned, when it was first “discovered that it was possible to transmit electric waves through the air without a wire,” the full implications of that discovery.
In the history of radio, amateur broadcasters, despite merit, have always been given short shrift, be it the casting of ham radio operators as nerds or the criminalization of pirate radio stations. The internet is the dream of ham radio fulfilled. It’s a place for individuals to connect and broadcast with little obstruction. Once touted as a feat unique to amateur shortwave, we now see blogger-journalists disseminating first reports from news events on their websites, quickly reaching millions as reports are reposted. A website can take down corrupt politicians or propel an ordinary person into stardom with the right viral video.
This edition of the New York Moon is in honor of this rising force. It is our contribution to the spectrum of signals, and we hope it rings out to a thousand suns.
Moon Radio Credits
by STEVE DETTLING &
by BRADLEY HOPE
by MATT HACKETT
Film Festival for the Blind
Specters of the Spectrum
with archival audio presented by JARED KEANE FELDMAN
World of Sound
“ingeria” by CYCLOTRON
“Khorog, Tajikistan” by ALYSSA MOXLEY
“Oshogbo, Nigeria” by LUKE KUMMER
“Mumbai, India” by BRADLEY HOPE
by ALYSSA MOXLEY