Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Business

September 6, 2013

Getting away from it all in W.Va

Where do you go to ‘get away from it all’? I had always considered the beach as my ultimate get-away location, until I recently read about Green Bank, W.Va.

A co-worker recently shared an article about this unique town in the middle of the Allegheny Mountain Range. For anyone wishing to escape from cell phones, TV and internet, this place is a dream-come true.

In this small town, population 143, luxuries such as cell phones and wireless devices are illegal or, in some rare cases, only scantly available. The town sits within the National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ), a 13,000 square mile stretch of land that houses and protects several large telescopes built by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO).

According to www.pocahontascountywv.com, the NRAO “designs, builds and operates the world’s most sophisticated and advanced radio telescopes.” The telescopes record radio emissions from the sky, gathering data from the solar system and searching for extraterrestrial intelligence. Many of the radio emissions are very faint. As a result, man-made radio interference must be limited in order that the weaker, solar waves can be detected by the telescopes. For that reason, the FCC created the National Radio Quiet Zone in 1958, to ensure an area where solar research could be done with little or no man-made interference.

Green Bank and its surrounding areas proved to be the perfect location for the Quiet Zone. Its rural setting, low population density, and the natural barriers of the mountain range already made for an area with limited radio emissions. Today, Green Bank’s radio activity is primarily limited to first responders, weather radio, alarm systems, and just a few low-power broadcast radio stations. If NRAO researchers detect unapproved, man-made signals, an employee will drive around the town to find and squelch it.

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