You’re finally in bed with your significant other and after a few lazy swipes of either your laptop, tablet or smartphone, you are ready to watch an episode of your favorite show before sleep. Unfortunately, instead of wiggling your toes and basking in the frivolous habits of modernity, you suddenly find yourself the victim of “buffering”, or grainy video due to a weak WiFi signal that doesn’t quite reach your bedroom. Even after a series of curses and restarting your router and media device, signal consistency is seldom achieved. And your ability to fall asleep ruined.
After enduring similar first-world “problems”, Ph.D student Jason Cole set out to diagram how exactly WiFi signals degrade in confined environments. Using a Helmholtz equation and an absurd amount of mathematics that’s brilliantly detailed on his blog, Almost looks like work, Cole charted the electromagnetic distribution coming from a router and created a visual representation of the strength of these signals as a router moves around a room. Not surprisingly, the best location for your router is in the center of your home. Still, watching these radiation signals change as the router is moved is fascinating and a wonderful example of what physicists do in their spare time while making the rest of us look like intellectual toddlers.