Can mercury improve antenna performance?

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Alexander Tkachev

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Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« on: 28/04/2008 08:26:27 »
Alexander Tkachev  asked the Naked Scientists:
Hi Chris, thank you for your work. I wish we had something comparable to your show in Russia.

My question is about TV antenna. Is it true that if you polish the metalic plates of a TV antenna with mercury (Hg) the quality of the reception of TV signal will improve?

We were told antennas polished with mercury would radiate some sort of signal which is perilous to other radio waves. Even aeroplanes flying over these antennas had some difficulties with their radio equipment.

In remote areas of Russia it was the only way to have a working TV set.
Was it possible or it was another urban legend?

Melalic plates - small metallic elements which are fixed on roofs of houses. They are connected with TV via cable. Nowadays this type of TV antenna is used in villages and small towns.

I'm a lawyer and I'm not familiar with this area of science so I hope my question is not very stupid:)

Thank you in advance.

A. Tkachev
What do you think?

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Offline graham.d

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Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #1 on: 28/04/2008 11:12:21 »
I can't see how this would work in any way and, anyway, mercury is bad for you.

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Offline techmind

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Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #2 on: 28/04/2008 17:14:50 »
It sounds substantially like an urban myth to me.

If the external metal were badly corroded I suppose it might just be conceivable that the mercury could clean it and increase the surface conductivity - but I'm doubtful.

The bit about "antennas polished with mercury would radiate some sort of signal which is perilous to other radio waves..." is complete bunkum. No basis in fact at all.


Mercury is regarded as very hazardous. If you are ever tempted to try this, be aware also that you must not let mercury get anywhere near metallic gold (especially jewellery) as it will discolour and eventually dissolve the gold, by forming an amalgam with it.
"It has been said that the primary function of schools is to impart enough facts to make children stop asking questions. Some, with whom the schools do not succeed, become scientists." - Schmidt-Nielsen "Memoirs of a curious scientist"

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Offline Pumblechook

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Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #3 on: 28/04/2008 17:51:30 »
Utter nonsense.

Broadcast/radio/electronics engineer with 40 years experience.

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Offline Bored chemist

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Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #4 on: 28/04/2008 18:50:09 »
Outstandingly dumb idea. Particularly if (as is quite common) the metal bits are made of aluminium, they will corrode so fast you can watch them fall apart.
I'm not a broadcast engineeer (I'm a chemist) but I think a bigger antenna would be a much better way to do this (better desigend antennae are probably better yet).
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Offline Pumblechook

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Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #5 on: 28/04/2008 21:52:56 »
Wouldn't mercury just 'run off' the surface of the metal?  It tends to form little globules. 

As regards aerials.. They are made of variety of metals.  Satellite dishes are steel.  Some high gain arrays are made of stainless steel.   It makes little difference.   Aluminium is used because it is light.   Steel is a poor conductor but the current is only flowing in the elements of an aerial for a short distance and the current falls off as you move away from the centre.  It is much more important to use good materials in the feeder cable which can be many metres long. 

The only way is a bigger aerial or an array of aerials.  Generally one antenna of a certain size will behave like another antenna  of a different design but of the same size..   The gain you can make by optimising the design is small. 
« Last Edit: 28/04/2008 21:57:00 by Pumblechook »

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Offline Bored chemist

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Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #6 on: 29/04/2008 21:15:18 »
Steel is relatively unusual in that it doesn't dissolve in mercury. Many other metals do, aluminium and gold have already been mentioned. The effect on aluminium is particularly noticable because the metal is normally protected from atack by air and water by a thin layer of oxide. The mercury disrupts this and leaves the aluminium open to the effect of water. That reaction is vigorous enough to boil water (BTW, don't try this at home - some of the mercury vapour escapes with the steam)).
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lyner

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Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #7 on: 01/05/2008 13:00:43 »
The idea is total bollocks!
It must have been invented in a boiler room (topical joke).
If it were just the surface resistance of antennae that governed their performance, the sad old things on our chimneys* would have packed up years ago'.

* I am not referring to the aerial maintenance engineers.

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Offline IGOR.M6

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #8 on: 12/01/2012 21:04:23 »
I am sorry to bring up this thread again its been 4 years since it started, but I've been looking for it for a long time, I remember when i was in the 7th grade,  a friend of mine got an old Russian book in the library (at the time when i used to live in Ukraine) and he read there about adding mercury to antenna, it wasn't particularly rubbing it into the aluminum - that would dissolve it, but somehow adding it to it, he didn't let me on the details how to add it i assume just somehow have antenna exposed to it would be enough. So he bought five mercury thermometers and used it in a village where his grandparents lived, he said he got amazing signal that he could watch channels from poland, for that you would need a very high gain dish in a very good spot, he used an old soviet roof top antenna, but the fun didnt last long, he said that in about two hours a military "Uazik" came there, told him to take antenna off the roof, and warned him if he does that again he will be put in prison, they basically said that it was messing up all their signals... i know he wasnt lying because he kept telling me to add Mercury (Hg) to my wifi so that i could get signal I wasnt believing him so he told me the story... so i dont consider it to be a legend its the truth. You do have knowledge but there are some things that are not talked about, as well as some elements have strange barely discovered qualities. If this info was really all over the internet there would be a communications chaos, but id keep it in mind in case of nuclear war breaks out lol

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Offline IGOR.M6

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #9 on: 12/01/2012 21:12:46 »
and there you have a prove that i am not lying either
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-1pF-Nrccw

if you dont wanna believe it then dont but at least be open to it - thats what true scientists do

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Offline IGOR.M6

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #10 on: 12/01/2012 21:36:48 »
Steel-Mercury-Carbon Coherer - an actual patented invention, what do super smart Arial antenna engineers have to say to that?

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Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #11 on: 12/01/2012 22:02:58 »
In the real world, this is what mercury does to aluminium.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbUPjHHml1E
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Offline CliffordK

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #12 on: 12/01/2012 22:21:07 »
Hmmm...
Can I just add a radio antenna to my Mercury Amalgam Fillings in my mouth?

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Offline IGOR.M6

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #13 on: 12/01/2012 22:31:31 »
I know very well what mercury does to aluminum, and i have stated it in my post as well if you read it, but it doesnt have to be directly connected, watch the video i posted, they use a wire and run it to the antenna cable and its enough, my friend used 5 thermometers and somehow connected them to antenna, i really donno how he managed but i assume it was with an intermediate

and no dumbass it stops being reactive once its mixed with amalgam so it wont work

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Offline CliffordK

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #14 on: 12/01/2012 22:57:48 »
youtube doesn't get along very well with my router.

The point is that Mercury can be alloyed with a number of different metals to make a solid alloy.

If you want to use it in liquid form, I'd go for thermostat (not thermometer) mercury. 

From the thermostat, you can get a sealed vial of mercury, already with two electrodes in the vial that can be made to be in contact with the Mercury.

I'm doubtful that an antenna receiver would have attracted the attention of the KGB.  Perhaps the friend was attempting to broadcast.  Shortwave?


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Offline Geezer

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #15 on: 13/01/2012 01:49:39 »

and no dumbass it stops being reactive once its mixed with amalgam so it wont work


Igor,

You may not insult other TNS members. Please read the AUP - http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=8535.0

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Offline IGOR.M6

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #16 on: 13/01/2012 02:02:56 »

and no dumbass it stops being reactive once its mixed with amalgam so it wont work


You may not insult other TNS members. Please read the AUP - http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=8535.0

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he insulted my intelligence i insulted him back, you should warn him as well, but thanks



Too bad you cant watch the video but basically they saw off the end of thermometer and put a thin metal wire inside the mercury so its in contact then from what they say they connect the wire to the antenna... and it wasnt KGB those were just few soldiers with their commander and AK-47s they thought there was something serious going on but they found that it was just a kid trying to amplify signal.. I am not sure whether solid alloy would work, they did use liquid form maybe that's the key but i like the idea to use mercury from thermostat does indeed have wires connected, next time im in hotel ill rip it out lol

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Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #17 on: 13/01/2012 17:59:57 »
"Too bad you cant watch the video but basically they saw off the end of thermometer and put a thin metal wire inside the mercury so its in contact then from what they say they connect the wire to the antenna"

I watched it.
 I watched "Lord of the Rings" too, but I don't believe it.

There's lots of mercury round the place in dental fillings, switches, fluorescent lights etc. so, if it had an effect, we would all know about it.

In addition to (presumably) being insulting this "and no dumbass it stops being reactive once its mixed with amalgam so it wont work" makes no real sense.

I suppose that English isn't your first language and, while I applaud your ability to use it, I strongly suggest that you stick to conveying facts clearly and don't waste effort on insults.
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Offline IGOR.M6

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #18 on: 13/01/2012 21:11:26 »
"Too bad you cant watch the video but basically they saw off the end of thermometer and put a thin metal wire inside the mercury so its in contact then from what they say they connect the wire to the antenna"
I watched it.
 I watched "Lord of the Rings" too, but I don't believe it.
There's lots of mercury round the place in dental fillings, switches, fluorescent lights etc. so, if it had an effect, we would all know about it.
In addition to (presumably) being insulting this "and no dumbass it stops being reactive once its mixed with amalgam so it wont work" makes no real sense.
I suppose that English isn't your first language and, while I applaud your ability to use it, I strongly suggest that you stick to conveying facts clearly and don't waste effort on insults.

dude im not asking you to believe it but at least dont be so pessimistic and narrow minded, open up to new things a little, you think you know everything but you dont, understand that mercury causes irreversible brain damage, agree on that at least? what we get in our tooth fillings is completely different, its non reactive, if it was reactive we would have millions of people turn mentally retarded then die, do we get that? no.
some lamps have mercury, yes, and since they are warning us about it i assume its not mixed with anything like amalgam is, but simply running electricity through it may not give an effect, a lamp is a resistor, not a receiver, if anything it emits light not absorbs it. would be cool if someone actually tried it, i would but i live in nyc and if i do something like that ill most definitely get arrested, if someone did it in the country side you would definitely get away with that one time.. when i have time ill research it more and let you know, and the video seems legit i dont see a reason not to believe it..

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Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #19 on: 13/01/2012 23:58:39 »
"dude im not asking you to believe it "
That's OK then
"open up to new things a little"
I did, I introduced the reality that  mercury is so common that if it had any special properties we would know about them.

"a lamp is a resistor"
actually, a lamp with a gas (like mercury vapour) in it has a negative incremental resistance,
but thanks for letting us know how much you know about this.
" i dont see a reason not to believe it.."
You will.
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Offline IGOR.M6

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #20 on: 14/01/2012 00:54:16 »
"dude im not asking you to believe it "
That's OK then
"open up to new things a little"
I did, I introduced the reality that  mercury is so common that if it had any special properties we would know about them.

"a lamp is a resistor"
actually, a lamp with a gas (like mercury vapour) in it has a negative incremental resistance,
but thanks for letting us know how much you know about this.
" i dont see a reason not to believe it.."
You will.
you realize that if people knew about that property of mercury there would be a chaos in communications systems? there could be a reason why they switched to cable only television in the US, theres no regular broadcast unless its a dish, and besides dont use "we" just because most people arent educated about it doesnt mean its not truth, i brought up this topic because of something that actually happened, i believe my friend he had no reason to lie to me how can you explain what happened to him? you cant. i love how stubborn you are but unless you present facts that prove me wrong, that doesn't include stating general facts about mercury and its daily uses, please don't respond. you sound like a scorpio, ridiculous

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Offline CliffordK

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #21 on: 14/01/2012 04:15:44 »
you realize that if people knew about that property of mercury there would be a chaos in communications systems? there could be a reason why they switched to cable only television in the US, theres no regular broadcast unless its a dish

Oh..
I must have super-rabbit ears then!!!!!!!  They must still be picking up a residual from last year's broadcasting!!!

I believe CW, and a few other stations still broadcast in ANALOG in Portland, Oregon.  No Digital Converter necessary.  The Digital conversion requirement had some loopholes for smaller stations.  Some chose to upgrade so that they could double their programming, some didn't.

In Eugene, everything is Digital, but still ON THE AIR. 

If NYC doesn't broadcast TV over the air, it is probably a choice to avoid a skyline like this.



I'm not going to deny the possibility of antenna improvements.  However, I am skeptical that a a radio receiver would be detectable elsewhere, let alone cause serious interruptions with communication.  If you are using it for receiving, then you are not broadcasting, especially if you aren't hearing lots of noise on your radio.  2-way shortwave, or CB's would be different.

If you do choose to experiment with Mercury, keep in in a sealed vial like that from a Mercury Thermostat.


 No, it's not Ghostbusters.  It is the British TV Detector.

Yet, there are no descriptions of the internal workings of the device, and apparently they have never been used in a legal case, and thus never received legal scrutiny, or any other scrutiny for that matter.

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Offline Geezer

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #22 on: 14/01/2012 05:08:06 »



 No, it's not Ghostbusters.  It is the British TV Detector.

Yet, there are no descriptions of the internal workings of the device, and apparently they have never been used in a legal case, and thus never received legal scrutiny, or any other scrutiny for that matter.

Widely believed to be a load of baloney, although it worked really well. As soon as one of them showed up in a particular area there was a remarkable increase in the sale of licenses.

As virtually everyone had a TV, all they had to do was knock on the door of anyone who didn't have a license and accuse them of theft.
There ain'ta no sanity clause, and there ain'ta no centrifugal force Šther.

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Offline IGOR.M6

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #23 on: 14/01/2012 08:39:50 »
thing is if it was just a minor antenna improvement then it wouldn't cause jams for other radio frequencies, but apparently, i dont wanna use term black hole but from what ive read and been told it seems like the antenna literally sucks in signals, your TV may be concentrating on those very TV signals but antenna will absorb all filth thats on the air, which again shows its instability

okay i dont know about whethery they still use or dont use the antennas all i know it works and can probably amplify any antenna

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Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #24 on: 14/01/2012 11:31:48 »
"you realize that if people knew about that property of mercury there would be a chaos in communications systems?"
If it was real then yes, there would be chaos.
And, as I have said, because there is lots of mercury around, people would know about the effect (if it was real).
But there is not chaos.
From this we can logically deduce that the effect is not real.

On the other hand, this "it seems like the antenna literally sucks in signals" doesn't tally with the very well documented and accurately tested laws of electromagnetism.

So, to sumarise,
it is logically impossible for the effect to be real.
the effect is not consistent with the known laws of physics.

Mercury is pretty and interesting, but it's not magic.

Igor,
if your ideas don't agree with reality, it isn't because reality has made a mistake.


Incidentally the TV detector vans worked perfectly well. They relied on detecting the signals produced by the TV. IIRC the line scanning  transformer  and the IF section gave out radio waves that were distinctive. If you put an ordinary am radio next to a working telly it will confirm that the telly is a transmitter.
However they soon discovered that any van with some "scientific" looking stuff on the roof and "TV Detector Van" written on the side did the job just as well and was a lot cheaper and easier.
« Last Edit: 14/01/2012 11:34:52 by Bored chemist »
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Offline IGOR.M6

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #25 on: 14/01/2012 19:45:28 »
"you realize that if people knew about that property of mercury there would be a chaos in communications systems?"
If it was real then yes, there would be chaos.
And, as I have said, because there is lots of mercury around, people would know about the effect (if it was real).
But there is not chaos.
From this we can logically deduce that the effect is not real.

I dont see any logic in this, i see how youre trying to twist it but i got a counter ignorant logic back, there is bunch of gasoline around, every car is using it, gas stations are every 5 blocks. yes if gasoline was explosive we would definitely know of its effects, since nothing is exploding on daily bases "we can logically deduce that the [explosive] effect is not real"
 conclusion is we are very careful when handle mercury, its not around is, its in expensive lamps which poor aka stupid people dont buy and smart ones know how to handle, they dont sell mercury thermometers anymore in nyc, maybe they do but they become more and more rare, same thing with gasoline we handle it carefully not to spill and catch it on fire, with mercury we arent just afraid to lose a drop, we are far from playing around with it at home, unless of coarse youre stupid.. (objectively)

your logic makes no sense you clearly dont know about its properties and just bluntly throw your scepticism, and laws of physics DO NOT apply here, these are laws of Quantum physics you need in order to understand this, havent u heard scientists discover all kinds of strange qualities of some elements which they havent previously seen?

lets just stop stating what we think we know and try to explore more

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Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #26 on: 15/01/2012 11:00:05 »
I think at the point where you say
"and laws of physics DO NOT apply here"
you have summed it up nicely.

The fact that we sometimes see petrol explode (and the fact that we use that explosion thousands of times a minute in many car engines) proves that petrol vapour, mixed with air is explosive.
The fact that we never see "Black holes" in radio and TV coverage around mercury filled switches, lamps and such proves that the effect you are talking about doesn't happen. Incidentally, if it did happen, it would make headline news so we would have heard about it.

Incidentally, in case you hadn't noticed, quantum mechanics (also known as quantum physics) is part of physics and the laws that govern quantum behaviour are part of the laws of physics.
I said mercury was interesting- for example, it's a liquid.
That weird behaviour arises from quantum effects.
I'm well aware of them and it seems I understand them better than you do.

" they dont sell mercury thermometers anymore in nyc"
So what?
They used to sell plenty. The mercury hasn't disappeared. It is still there and if it had an effect, that effect would have been spotted. It hasn't.
Re
" its in expensive lamps which poor aka stupid people dont buy"
It's in free light bulbs.
http://www.getrichslowly.org/blog/2007/04/19/home-depot-to-give-away-compact-fluorescent-bulbs-this-sunday/

Please take more care in future to avoid saying things that are stupidly wrong, or, as you put it
"lets just stop stating what we think we know and try to explore more"
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Offline IGOR.M6

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #27 on: 15/01/2012 16:27:50 »
dude please... you think you know more but saying laws of physics when its laws of quantum physics is completely different, laws of physics is gravity acceleration etc, that has NOTHING to do with what i was talking about, i just took physics 2 this Fall semester so dont insult my intelligence by explaining what each of them is, and quantum physics is a part of quantum mechanics, whatever.


How can you say that we never see "black holes" in coverage? do you work on a private or gov company and fix antennas? private companies wont tell their customers im sorry we have a destructive wave of signals in your area, they just go there and look for the cause and eliminate it or at least try to. Well most of the time its just simply destructive interference. This is very rare, and like microwave ovens are made so that microwaves dont escape, same way are made those switches!! corporations are very well aware of that effect!

How antenna works is it has electric field around it, the signals that hit the antenna is another magnetic field! Read about the properties of Mercury, it simply increases the electric field of the antenna BY FAR, and i am talking about an actual antennas that were on the pictures on the first page of this thred, not an electronic switch inside the wall or lamp.

Instead of being wrong and arguing with me, better conduct an experiment.

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Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #28 on: 15/01/2012 17:48:52 »
The laws of physics include those of quantum physics.
If you were studying them this year then I probably learned them before you were born. I have been using them, on and off, on a professional basis for 20 years.
Do you really think you know more about them than I do?

Re. "How can you say that we never see "black holes" in coverage? "
Did you actually read what I said earlier?
The bit where I said " Incidentally, if it did happen, it would make headline news so we would have heard about it." kind of answers your question doesn't it?

" private companies wont tell their customers im sorry we have a destructive wave of signals in your area, they just go there and look for the cause and eliminate it or at least try to. "
Who gives a toss what they tell them.
What you were talking about would have meant a whole lot of people suddenly losing all their signals at the same time.
That would get noticed.
(and, btw, I do work for a government company).
"same way are made those switches!! "
Bollocks- and  I have pulled plenty apart to scavenge the mercury so I do know.
This "How antenna works is it has electric field around it, the signals that hit the antenna is another magnetic field!" is largely wrong too.
"Read about the properties of Mercury"
I have.
" it simply increases the electric field of the antenna BY FAR"
Oh no it doesn't- because to do so would breach the principle of the conservation of energy.
" i am talking about an actual antennas that were on the pictures on the first page of this thred, not an electronic switch inside the wall or lamp. "
yes, but how do they know that?
How does some mercury connected to some wires know that it's part of a thermostat ans so it isn't "allowed" to work in this weird way but the same mercury and the same wire does magic tricks if you label it as an antenna?

"Instead of being wrong and arguing with me, better conduct an experiment."
No, you have fundamentally misunderstood two things here: one is the nature of science.
Since you are making the extraordinary claim, it falls to you to provide the extraordinary evidence.
A video on youtube doesn't count for anything.
The other thing you have missed is that we all have done the experiment.
We all have mercury connected to bits of wires and stuff in our houses- but our TVs and radios still work.


Come back when you have some evidence.
(And, it will probably be better if you write it properly with real sentences, capital letters and suitable punctuation.



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Offline Geezer

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #29 on: 15/01/2012 20:07:08 »
Maybe it's something to do with this here amazing property of mercury. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-Ma6iKLd7g
 
(Don't try this at home. Mercury is very nasty stuff. If it doesn't kill you, I might well make you crazy.)
There ain'ta no sanity clause, and there ain'ta no centrifugal force Šther.

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Offline Bored chemist

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Offline IGOR.M6

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #31 on: 16/01/2012 00:45:57 »
you do realize that your goal is to disprove everything i say?

how do you know it "would breach principal of conservation of energy?" do you actually know what happens when you electrocute or charge mercury, you know as much as i do but your goal is to disprove it so okay whatever

the stuff im talking about is quite dangerous, you dont find "how to make a self-detonating west for dummies" on the internet either cause this kind of stuff gets filtered, if it was a myth im sure there would be plenty of these on the internet, i tried narrowing it down to impossible got to 500 results and still nothing, the only way to find out more is either by experimenting or going through Russian search engines

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Offline Bored chemist

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Re: Can mercury improve antenna performance?
« Reply #32 on: 16/01/2012 06:46:45 »
My goal is to find out what the evidence says.
You have not shown any evidence.
Your goal seems to be to see how many things you can say that are simply not true.
There is plenty of stupidly dangerous stuff on the web so it clearly isn't "filtered".
Maybe the reason you can't find it is that it isn't there because it doesn't work.

Oh, BTW re. "do you actually know what happens when you electrocute or charge mercury" yes, I do.
did you not see the vid?
Please disregard all previous signatures.