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Q & A: plasma ball radio interference

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
I just got a plasma ball and it effects my digital clock radio. Is this because of IR waves or something else that the ball is giving off?
- Bijan (age 9)
Michigan
A:
It's probably emitting radio-frequency waves (as well as other frequencies, like the visible light you can see). Electrical sparks have broad frequency spectra. Put your radio next to a running car engine and tune it on the AM dial between stations and you'll doubtless hear the spark plugs clicking periodically. I was even able to pick up the radio noise my pocket calculator emitted on an AM radio when I put the calculator right next to the radio's antenna and tuned it between stations on the AM dial.

Tom

(published on 10/22/2007)

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