This Is What Wi-Fi Would Look Like, If We Could See It
This should read, “This Is NOT What Wi-Fi Would Look Like, If We Could See It”
I could live with this if it were simply an artist’s rendering of wi-fi, but the leap to “this is what we would see if we could see it” is just wrong.
We can see in the visible part of the spectrum, and yet we do not “see” the light all around us. Why? Because to see anything, a photon has to hit our eye, be detected and then interpreted by our brain. We do not see photons whizzing past us, or going in any other direction, other than the ones hitting our detectors.
What would we see? Well, the basic thing is that objects would look basically the same, except blurrier. There would be diffraction effects because of the longer wavelength. Some objects we think of as opaque would be more transparent, and vice-versa, because transmission of light depends on the wavelengths involved.
What wouldn’t we see? Any sort of wavy lines depicted in one of the pictures, and not only because we just don’t see that light, but also because that’s not what light does. Yes, light acts as a wave. But the (sometimes orthogonal) sinusoidal graphs you see aren’t saying that light travels this roller-coaster path — a decent depiction (like this one) will have labeled the axes, and it will be Electric (and Magnetic) field strength vs time (or position, since they are proportional). The field strength varies with position, as time passes, or as you look along a straight-line path.
Wi-Fi waves are about three to five inches between crests, which a computer reads as “1.” (The troughs of the wave are read as “0.”) That information then translates into the chains of binary code that dictate the Internet.
Ugh, and double-ugh. No. A constant frequency wave is a pure tone — there’s no other information in it. To encode information you have to modulate something about the wave — radio signals modulate the amplitude or the frequency (AM or FM). You can also modulate the phase of the signal or the polarization. (Those are analog schemes and wi-fi is digital, so there is an additional complication and change in terminology, e.g. FM becomes frequency-shift keying) Wi-fi is around 5 GHz, and yet we get nothing like that rate of data transfer, because that’s the carrier frequency — we are limited by the modulation rate. We also don’t get a boring progression of 10101010101010101010…, because that’s the signal you’d get if the system worked in the way it was described.
Almost described, that is. If a peak is a “1”, a trough would be a “1” as well. When you detect light, you detect the amplitude of the intensity, which is the square of the field. What I think the originator of the statement was trying to incorrectly say is that a field null would be a zero, but the binary signal only comes about when you modulate and then demodulate the signal.