In what sounds like something straight out of a horror film, after a power cut, a man went to turn his electronic items back on, only to discover that his fan was now talking to him.
“Okay I’m actually scared right now,” reblog wrote on Reddit. “The power went out, like not just mine but for our whole block and it’s just me in the house. Power comes on an hour later, no big deal.”
“So I’m running around turning my stuff back on when I get to my fans, now even though it is winter, my apartment gets really warm, so we have these 3 tower fans. I turn the first two back on, and as I’m walking up to the 3rd, THERE ARE VOICES COMING FROM IT.”
He asked Reddit for an explanation for his problem in the subreddit “Glitch In The Matrix”. He explained that the noise wasn’t horror-style voices of ghosts claiming to be a deceased previous occupier of the house.
“It sounded like a talk show. Like you could hear people talking. Mind you, all of this is coming from my unpowered fan, did I mention that? The fan was plugged in, but I never pressed the power button and there are people and sometimes music coming from it.”
More worryingly, he then unplugged the fan, only to discover that that didn’t stop the problem. He could still hear what sounded like a “barely-audible news show”.
So what is happening? Ghost fan? Thankfully, no.
Whilst several people suggested one obvious possibility, that he was hearing things in the white noise and his mind was turning it into voices, that turned out not to be the case.
The fan turns out to have been picking up radio waves from a nearby transmitter.
Many metal objects around the house can pick up radio signals. Everything from the coils in your bed frame to tin foil can receive them. Though the signals are going through them, however, it’s not often that they are amplified enough to be audible.
But if you are close enough to an antenna the electromagnetic field can be strong enough to oscillate at the frequency of the transmitter. If it vibrates strongly enough, as metal parts within the base of the fan appear to have, it can make a noise loud enough for you to hear.
During WWII, Allied troops were known to use similar methods (intentionally) in order to listen to the radio whilst in Italy. German forces could detect local oscillators (a part within a radio used to select frequencies), so they made their own radios using metals such as razor blades, nails, and pencil lead as detectors.