Navy vessels have about 80 metallic antennas that transmit their data. But there might be a smarter way of communicating via a liquid radio.
U.S. Navy researchers at Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) invented a device that uses a stream of seawater as a radio antenna.
The Sea Water Antenna System uses a stream of salt water to transmit signals over a few frequencies. It would take 10 of the seawater antennas to do the work of 80 metallic ones.
Navy researcher Daniel Tam told The Economist how the antenna was made:
After a trip to a hardware store, Tam discovered that indeed it could. With an $80 water pump, a $15 rubber hose and a $20 electrical device called a current probe that was easily plugged into a hand-held radio, he produced a spout roughly four meters tall from the waters of San Diego Bay. With this he could send and receive a clear signal. Over the intervening years his invention, dubbed the “pee antenna” by incredulous colleagues, has been tweaked and improved to the point where it can transmit over a distance of more than 30 miles.
It definitely looks like the device is peeing. A squirting antenna would be useful in tight quarters or if a backup antenna is needed in an emergency.
The SPAWAR team has also created a solar-powered hydrogen sponge that can generate and store hydrogen, a glove that can send signals when you move your fingers and a way of communication between users and robots.
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