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Naperville
Friday, April 19, 2024

Potato fact unearthed among today’s cellular service alerts

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Above / Coincidentally, a big bag of potatoes in Penick’s pantry provided an appropriate  image for today’s post about possible disruptions in cell service. 

Updated, 4:30PM, Feb. 22, 2024 / NPR reports that AT&T says it has fully restored cellphone service to tens of thousands of customers in cities across the country whose phones lost signal overnight, causing frustration and concern about disruptions to 911 dispatches.

Originally posted at 9:45AM, Feb. 22, 2024 / Whether you say potato or potahto, sometimes there are “occasions when the starchy spuds have more scientific uses — such as helping researchers test and tweak Wi-Fi signals.”

According to an early-morning email from “Interesting Facts” among myriad inbox notices with alerts and breaking news that informed users that Americans are reporting nationwide cellular outages from AT&T and other providers (link to NPR with updates), sometimes “potatoes act as stand-ins for human bodies, mimicking our forms thanks to their similarly high water content.”

Interesting Facts continues, “While our bodies are made up of about 60% water, potatoes are loaded with about 80%. All of that water impacts just how well we can connect to the internet — Wi-Fi signals are transmitted through radio waves, which are easily absorbed by water. Even the water inside a potato (or the human body) can reflect the signal back and weaken its strength.

“While any container of water can actually do this trick, scientists have turned to sacks of potatoes for more accurate testing of Wi-Fi signals in tricky places such as airplanes. In 2012, Boeing heaped about 20,000 pounds of tubers into human-like shapes in a grounded airplane to observe how well Wi-Fi flowed through a packed cabin. Gathering the data took several days, and using nonmoving potato test subjects in place of human participants made it possible for researchers to do their work. With this system, Boeing engineers were able to fine-tune Wi-Fi signals to transmit uniformly through a plane cabin and account for wiggling passengers and passing drink carts — ensuring the best possible internet connection at 35,000 feet.”

Here’s hoping the Midwest stays clear of issues regarding cellular outages that result in the need to address Wi-Fi disruptions.

Perhaps enjoy the pretty day with good-natured goodness and freedom throughout Naperville, unplugged for a while among a mix of clouds and sunshine at one of the City’s many parks or forest preserves. 

Yellow petite “buttercup-like blooms” (winter aconite) already are brightening the landscape in Sindt Woods. (PN Photo)

With temperatures approaching 50 degrees at 8AM, the high is expected to be around 60 degrees. Winds are blowing NNW at 5 to 10 mph. And blankets of tiny yellow flowers (winter aconite) already are blooming in Sindt Woods, just off the winding brick path of the Riverwalk. —PN

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PN Editor
PN Editor
An editor is someone who prepares content for publishing. It entered English, the American Language, via French. Its modern sense for newspapers has been around since about 1800.
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