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Finding Lightning and Sound

Dan's useful links lead to lightning, radio stations, TV stations and sound from silence

I frequently exchange interesting websites with my old and new friends in radio and TV. Some sites might be broadcast related or a link to a great old video, while others might be a link to really cool new technology. Each week I hope to share some of the more interesting sites and group them in these regular blog posts I’m calling “Off the Beaten Path.” For this episode of “Off the Beaten Path,” links to things you may find useful or just interesting.

The first is a great website that’s pretty interesting to see, It’s a live (or nearly live) site of lightning strikes around the world. You can zoom in to your area. Of course, I wouldn’t (as a climber) risk my life on any website, but it could prove pretty helpful to engineers (knowing if you have a site in lightning’s path) and golfers wishing to “avoid a strike on the 9th hole.” is one of my favorite easy-to-use sites for finding what you should hear in a particular area on your radio. It’s great for finding a frequency to set your portable MP3 modulator or for trying to figure out if the station you’re hearing is a pirate (which you can usually tell by language, extreme overmodulation or poor quality or a combination of all three).

Though not radio, AntennaWeb has always been a favorite to pawn off to viewers when engineering in TV. It’s handy and easy to use. Curious to know what you can or should pick-up on your TV with an antenna? Want to know which way to aim that antenna? Would you like a suggestion of which antenna to buy? AntennaWeb is a joint CEA/NAB project for helping consumers figure out this “HDTV thing” (well, for at least as long as we still have over-the-air free TV).

And finally …

From the “this is REALLY going to freak you out” category: What if you had a video with no sound, but a way to “hear” what was going on? It’s NOT science fiction but science. Using a computer to analyze the movement or vibrations in objects in the video, the audio is reproduced. This article shows the work and it’s totally freaky!

I realize that this currently requires high-quality video, but what if this technology was so refined that an old Charlie Chaplin film could be analyzed. Would we hear the production crew talking in the silent film? Would we hear a director saying “OK, Charlie, now walk over there and trip over the stool and hit him with your cane”? Or what about using this technology with a high-res HD or 4K camera with telescopic lens at two miles at two people (turned away from the camera) and talking. If there were a plant between or near them, in theory you could apply this technology to the movement of the leaves and actually “hear” what they were saying via the analyzing of the movement.

If you stumble across a good or unusual web site that might be of interest, please don’t hesitate to send me the link and any info you might have about it. My email address is [email protected].