December 24, 2012
This 2006 photo provided by Boeing Co. shows early dielectric substitution testing using potatoes in an airplane in Arizona. Boeing has developed an advanced method to test wireless signals in airplane cabins, making it possible for passengers to enjoy more reliable connectivity when using networked personal electronic devices in the air. Employing an odd mix of the low-tech and the high-tech, Boeing loaded a plane with sacks of potatoes as part of testing it did to eliminate weak spots in in-flight wireless signals. Engineers determined radio waves bounce off the spuds much the same way they do with human bodies. Thus, the aircraft maker’s researchers were able to spare people from having to sit motionless for many hours while data was collected.
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If the wireless Internet connection during your holiday flight seems more reliable than it used to, you could have the humble potato to thank.
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