By on February 8, 2008

amd_empiremap.JPGMy pal Brock Yates single-handedly introduced CB radios to non-truckers by using one in a big Mercedes 300S for a precedent-setting Car and Driver article. So I installed a CB in my Saab 99. Whenever I’d put my ears on and key the mike to good-buddy, the Swede’s unshielded electronic fuel injection would die. (Good thing the ugly little hatchback could coast.) Today, something similar is supposedly happening in Manhattan. Rumors abound of an electronic Bermuda Triangle surrounding the Empire State Building. According to that bastion of reportorial excellence, The New York Daily News, "something" keeps certain vehicles' engines from re-starting. Wild-ass theories range from electronic emissions from the huge antennas atop the skyscrapers, to the increasing profusion of cell phone jammers, to juju from anti-terrorist devices protecting the building from attack. My favorite from one blog commenter: “Megaliths [such as a skyscraper] are electrical coils. Imagine a coil so powerful it can suck the magnetic force out of a car’s power system.”  (You’re right: Manhattanites don’t know how a car works.) The hysterics point out that 10 to 15 cars a day die near the Empire State Building. Considering the fact that 10 to 15 cars a day probably die near the Fulton Fish Market, once again, Occam's razor slices a crazy ass conspiracy theory to pieces. 

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16 Comments on “Wild Ass Rumor of the Day: Manhattan’s Bermuda Triangle...”

  • avatar

    What about this one. UK Prime Minister’s motorcade was on the A4 very close to Heathrow. The PM’s security blanket allegedly includes a very powerful cell phone jammer which was merrily jamming phones right under the approach to Heathrow’s south runway. A British Airways Boeing 777 was on short finals to land and for reasons as yet unknown the engine control computers failed to respond causing it to crash land just inside the fence. Fortunetly no one was seriously hurt. How’s that for a conspiracy theory.

  • avatar

    This wild ass rumor made me think of a Nikola Tesla experiment in NY:

    Later, Tesla would establish his Houston Street laboratory in New York at 46 E. Houston Street. There, at one point while conducting mechanical resonance experiments with electro-mechanical oscillators he generated a resonance of several surrounding buildings but, due to the frequencies involved, not his own building, causing complaints to the police. As the speed grew he hit the resonant frequency of his own building and belatedly realizing the danger he was forced to apply a sledge hammer to terminate the experiment, just as the astonished police arrived

    This is from a wikipedia entry found here:

  • avatar

    This has something to do with the presence of the Dark Lord Sauron, but I’m not exactly sure what.

  • avatar

    Man, I LOVE CB radios. Wish I could put one in my car.

    “Breaker, breaker, 1-9, you got your ears on?”

  • avatar

    I remember someone here commenting about this. Said his car wouldn’t start in an underground garage in this area so he had it towed home and it fired right up.

  • avatar

    RF can be very tricky. I’m a ham radio op, and you know those stickers that warn you against installing anything in your new car ? We laugh at them-and install 100 watt shortwave radios. (Cops install big radios, too.). Often the RF will get into something. The cure is always to find the inadequate ground, be it on your transmitter or the device being interfered with.

    Radio Frequency (RF) looks for any wire that is a multiple of the wavelength. If the electronic device in the car is not properly grounded, or inadequately shielded, RF will be inducted, and never to good effect.

    There is a massive amount of RF coming off the Empire State Building. My ham radio is just overwhelmed. You have all the digital and analog TV transmitters in NYC, which used to be on the WTC (r.i.p.). The new UHF digital transmitters are measured in megawatts, as they need to use more power than the VHF analog transmitters. You have most of the FM stations, and to boot, a lot of pagers, taxi, police and other dispatch. In short, it’s a worst case scenario. With the wholesale use of digital electronics, this can cause issues. It usually won’t, in the same way your cell phone on a plane probably won’t cause the plane to crash, but there might be some issue at some time, so because it’s a safety issue, no cell phone.

    As Mythbusters would say…”this one’s plausible” with the many cars passing…

  • avatar

    Sounds like if the problem is re-starting the engine it lies with the RF attacking the signal from the transponder housed in the key.

    Moreover, you get to pay your locksmith or dealer $50 for a replacement for this tech! Wonderful…

  • avatar

    $50? I should be so lucky. I priced a new (chip-equipped) key for my 2002 Diamante, since the car came used with only one and I’d like to have a backup. The price: $210. Including the “labor” of cutting the key. Ridiculous.

    Needless to say, I didn’t buy it.

  • avatar

    There was a problem with Nissan keyless ignition fobs that involved cell-phone use nearby “killing” the fob; the problem is that you can’t properly shield these things against inadvertent RF interference or damage; it will keep them from communicating with the car as intended.

  • avatar

    This story was on jalopnik a couple days ago. I have a similar story:

    It used to happen to me a lot with my old car, integra with factory alarm. I would park the car, the alarm would engage automatically and then when I got back to the car my remote would not work. I figured out the problem was radio interference. The alarm had an ignition cutoff and I could not get the car started without using the remote to disable the alarm. I found that I could get the alarm off by going to the brain in the trunk and putting the remote right up to the brain’s antenna. Sometimes it would still take 5 minutes of clicking before unlocking the alarm. A real pain.

  • avatar

    Like dolo54, I have had trouble disabling the alarm on my car. The alarm was an aftermarket Viper. It has happened twice; no amount of clicking the key fob would disable it, no matter how close to the receiver’s antenna the transmitter was. Not a good thing when you are parked in a no-parking zone, 3 blocks away from… wait for it… the Empire State Building. Both times this happened to me, I was in the Manhattan Bermuda Triangle.
    I’m a believer. There has to be an intense amount of interference in that area; I was stranded on one occasion for 2 1/2 hours, waiting for a tow truck when one last desperation attempt at disarming it just magically worked. Those chirps were music to my ears. It’s not easy to repeatedly explain to cops for hours on end “No, it’s MY car, officer…”

  • avatar

    Isn’t that what registrations are for?

  • avatar

    RF can be very tricky

    you can’t properly shield these things against inadvertent RF interference or damage

    Don’t talk about Mr Farago like that! He’s quite a nice chap! ;O)

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    I should explain that I’d included in my original copy that the interference was almost certainly related to keyless keys, which I loathe with a passion (if that isn’t too redundant), and that the owners of such idiotic devices were just getting what they deserved. But it was dropped in order to make the post more concise.

    (Yeah, I know, sometimes you don’t have a choice; even my own Volvo V50 has a stupidkey.)

    But the basic point is that with a zillion cars passing through every part of Manhattan every 24 hours and a dozen dying here, there and everywhere during such a time period, you could say that the problem was the Empire State Building…or the newsstand at One Park Avenue…or emanations from Grand Central Station…or from Donald Trump’s bedroom… You choose. A number of hysterical New Yorkers have chosen to believe it’s the Empire State Building.

    The New Yorker magazine, just for the fun of it, tried a fairly basic investigation of the phenomenon and took an RF meter to the ESB area. (They referred to it as “a remote-control-type thing with a digital readout,” so it’s a cinch we’re not dealing with Popular Science nerds here.)

    They walked the meter through the area, and their astute digital-readout conclusions were: high on Park Avenue near the ESB, very high at the Polish Consulate just two blocks from the ESB, low-to-normal outside the shop Empire Erotica well within the Bermuda Triangle, and zero on the ground floor of the ESB itself. At which point security personnel confiscated the meter and the New Yorker writer fled.

  • avatar

    “Weird” car things happen every day with no explanation to car owners. This does not mean that there is paranormal stuff brewing, but I can understand why publications want to report it that way. It sells publications.

    I remember something “weird” happened to me once when I owned a 1980 Mitsu Cordia (L model) around the early 1990’s. I turned the key and nothing happened. I put the key first in the “run” postion and then the “ACC” postiion and then tried the radio, wipers, interior lights, exterior lights, nothing. I looked at the battery connections and noticed that everything was good and tight with no corrosion. I gently tugged on everything near the battery connections to make sure everything was ok.

    I got back in the car and everything was fine, plenty of cold cranking amps, started right up.

    I did not make any adjustments on the battery connections after this incident, and this never ever happened again. Paranormal or just plain weird? I vote for weird.

    To this day I still think about that incident and what may have caused it. But I remain baffled. It was as if the main wiring harness fusible link at the battery cable itself (yes, there is such a thing, I believe all cars have this) first became open circuit and then became closed circuit. Whatever the problem was, it was fixed by the slamming of the hood back down.

  • avatar

    One last thing about my “CordiaL” incident. The only explanation that I have surmised is that this may have been God’s way of “delaying” me to keep me from having a terrible accident.

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