How Stephen Hawking Gave Us Wi-Fi

Back in the 1970s Stephen Hawking suggested that black holes might be able to ‘evaporate’ under the right conditions (bear with me). On evaporation the black holes would emit radio waves. Since Stephen Hawking is pretty awesome, scientists set out to look for evaporating black holes and developed a mathematical tool to search for the radio waves. They never did find any.

Many years later one of those same scientists, Australian John O’Sullivan, was working at CSIRO and needed a way for two computers to communicate wirelessly. It turned out that the ‘black hole maths’ did just the trick, and so we now have Wi-Fi! Oh, and by the way, Wi-Fi doesn’t actually *mean* anything. It’s just a Trademarked name that was chosen to be a play on ‘Hi-Fi’. The more generic term is WLAN – wireless local area network.

Want to learn more?

Read longer accounts of how black holes led us to Wi-Fi on ABC Science or The Sydney Morning Herald.

The featured image was borrowed and edited, with thanks, from NASA and is in the public domain.