Several years ago I had an unnerving incident. I was sitting at my computer when my empty soda can spoke. I know how ridiculous that sounds but that’s what I thought I heard. The speech sounded short and professional (to the point), sounding like a CB radio transmission or a “status update” by a worker being transmitted via radio. The voice was quiet and staticky and I couldn’t make out the words. My mind quickly searched for ideas and I thought the soda can’s thin aluminum might be able to vibrate enough to sound like a staticky voice, but I could think of nothing that could make it vibrate like that without me noticing it. The soda can was sitting right in front of my computer’s speaker so I dismissed the speaking soda can idea and assumed the voice had actually come from that source. I quickly checked the applications running on my computer and there was nothing that should be emitting sound. So my first theories were either schizophrenia or a virus on my computer.
Every couple of days the same thing would happen at approximately the same time (11:47AM). Every time it happened I would check the applications running on my computer and come up with nothing. The speech was always quiet and staticky and very short. By the time I heard it, it was gone, giving me no time to find the cause by narrowing it down. Every time it happened I would second-guess myself as to whether the voice had actually came from my speakers and I would look out the window, expecting to see the neighbor guy holding a walkie-talkie. Nothing.
This kept on for weeks. By now I was pretty sure that it was an electronic or computer problem and I wasn’t just hearing voices in my head. But the voice was always so frustratingly short that I didn’t even have time to bring my ear to the speaker to ensure that it was actually coming from the speaker.
Until one day. This time the voice spoke for about 10 seconds and I verified that it was in fact coming from my left speaker. It was still so muffled and quiet that I couldn’t make out a single word. I looked at the status bar on my computer and Ahah!; the speakers were muted! This pretty much ruled out even a virus.
At this point I decided the voices must be some kind of interference or the speaker itself was receiving radio transmissions or something. I posted about the experience in forums and researched it a but and it turns out that this phenomenon is not that uncommon.
Pretty much any collection of wires can, given the right conditions, act like a radio antenna. If these wires are connected to a speaker then you have everything you need to turn those radio waves into sound. There are a lot of people that have reported hearing radio stations through computer speakers and even telephone speakers. There are also anecdotal reports of the same kind of bleed-through happening with CB transmissions.
I was living right beside a busy highway (and in town) and I suspect that what I was hearing every couple of days was a CB transmission from a delivery driver. The wires in my speaker were probably acting like a radio antenna and the resulting fluctuations were made audible by the speaker itself. I’m just glad it wasn’t schizophrenia after all.The Talking Soda Can,