General Question

ragingloli's avatar

Can aluminium foil really block electrical signals from entering your brain?

Asked by ragingloli (52068points) May 3rd, 2009

I think for it to work, the entire body has to be covered in it.

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28 Answers

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I don’t think that works.

Allie's avatar

My MacBook Pro is covered in aluminum and still receives signals and connections. So I’m with @The_Compassionate_Heretic, I don’t think that works either.

HeroicZach's avatar

Quite the contrary, aluminum foil can actually amplify electromagnetic waves that are being directed at your brain. Not that your brain really gives a hoot as to what electromagnetic waves are hitting it, unless we’re talking radioactive waves here – your brain’s “electricity” has nothing to do with electrical signals in the standard sense. The electricity in your brain is the action potential in your neurons.


evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

it seems to keep the aliens from reading my thoughts, so yeah, I’d say it works.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra is your hat in the shape of a funnel??

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

@jbfletcherfan no, its more like the newspaper pirate hats we used to make as kids.

laureth's avatar

When I used to work at the grocery store, I had customers who believed that a layer of paper bag blocking the scanner would protect their food from harmful evil rays of Doom that suck nutrition out of food. So I’d say that aluminum foil has just as much a chance of blocking brainwaves. The customers probably used both. ;)

Fyrius's avatar

Wikipedia sez:

The notion that a tin foil hat can significantly reduce the intensity of incident RF radiation on the wearer’s brain is not completely without a basis in scientific fact. A well constructed tin foil enclosure would approximate a Faraday cage, reducing the amount of (notionally harmless) radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation inside. A common high school physics demonstration involves placing an AM radio on tin foil, and then covering the radio with a metal bucket. This leads to a noticeable reduction in signal strength. The efficiency of such an enclosure in blocking such radiation depends on the thickness of the tin foil, as dictated by the skin depth, the distance the radiation can propagate in a particular non-ideal conductor. For half-millimeter-thick tin foil, radiation above about 20 kHz (i.e., including both AM and FM bands) would be partially blocked.[4]

phoenyx's avatar

The downside is that they make it easier to read your mind.

BookReader's avatar

…there was a famous and successful boxing corner man who could be seen wearing aluminum on his head during matches for similar reasons- i could be wrong… if the foil were grounded, much like house lightening rods, i could see the science behind it, or if the foil were in layers divided by airpockets, which might disrupt energy waves, i could see the science, or if wearing the foil made the wearer’s brain waves change, based on their “faith”, i could see the science…

laureth's avatar

A hat isn’t quite an enclosure, though. Perhaps we should enclose those folks in aluminum? I mean, it’s for their own good…

FrankHebusSmith's avatar

It doesn’t block electrical signals no, what it will block though are some wavelengths of radio/UV/IR/all the spectrum waves.

Fyrius's avatar

I could see the science in it if there actually existed any way to read people’s minds with radio waves.

Of course there’s fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) which does enable scientists to see what the brain looks like from the outside as well as the inside in three dimensions, and judging from blood oxygen levels, to see what parts of the brain show activation. And it’s based on radio waves, if memory serves (but do correct me if I’m wrong).
But for one thing medical science is nowhere near charting the brain well enough to really know in useful detail what anyone is thinking, and for another, fMRI requires people to lie down in a huge machine that scans their brain at a very close range.

Come to think of it, I’d like to carry out an experiment with an fMRI scanning machine and a tinfoil hatted dude. See how much it affects the scan results.

nikipedia's avatar

@Fyrius: MRI and fMRI use magnetic fields to measure the relative amounts of oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin that generate the BOLD (blood oxygen level dependent) response.

You can chart some things that people are thinking within very controlled experimental conditions.

Aluminum is not magnetic, so it should not have an effect during an fMRI.

Fyrius's avatar

@nikipedia So does that mean there are radio waves involved in fMRI? If memory still serves, radio waves are part of the electromagnetic spectrum. Does that have anything to do with it at all, or am I just showing my ignorance of physics? :P

As for determining what people are thinking, I believe the most precise data as to what someone is thinking that brain scans will be able to give you for the time being would be whether the subject is trying to remember something, trying to make a decision about what to do, moving their body, listening to people talking, or other general stuff like that. But I doubt they would be able to tell the difference between “man, what a rough day” and “down with Big Brother”.

knitfroggy's avatar

I give myself deep conditioning treatments on hair. This involves putting a whole lot of really good conditioner on my hair and then covering my head with something of a tin foil hat. Then I’ll blow dry the foil hat for a while to heat it up real good. After it’s good and hot enough I sit around in my foil hat for about a half hour or so.

The first time my husband saw this he laughed his ass off and asked if I was trying to keep the aliens out of my mind… So tin foil hats are kinda useful if you want beautiful hairs. :)

chyna's avatar

@laureth Customers? More than one acted that way? Oh my.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@evelyns_pet_zebra must look quite fashionable! :-)

Jayne's avatar

@Fyrius; an electromagnetic wave, of which radio represents a small sample, is an electric and magnetic field oscillating perpendicular to one another. MRI fields use a magnetic field alone to align the nuclei of certain atoms. So, no EM waves there. However, they then use radio waves to mess with that alignment, so yes, if an aluminum hat blocked radio waves, it would impair the process.

As for electrical signals, sure, depending on the thickness of the material, the completeness of the enclosure it forms, and (I believe) the roundness of that enclosure as well. So the best solution is to stick these people in giant metal Zorb balls. If they’re good, we’ll even give them air holes.

Fyrius's avatar

I see. Kind of.

nikipedia's avatar

Well. I’m gonna disagree. I think the way it works is:

1. The magnetic fields generated by the magnets in an MRI align the nuclei of the hydrogen atoms.

2. Radio frequency pulses jiggle them around and you try to measure the jiggling to get a better idea of what you’re looking at.

Jayne's avatar

@nikipedia; is that not exactly what I said?

YARNLADY's avatar

I think it only works if you make a net out of paper clips or safety pins first, and wear the net either over or under the aluminum foil. Actually gold foil works best, but it’s very expensive, and you have to have some really powerful reason to want to block the electricity before you spend that kind of money.

I have read that you can use gold chain to make a net, and then put aluminum foil over that for a fairly decent effect.

dynamicduo's avatar

Haha, no, it doesn’t work. And being worried about “electrical signals entering your brain” is really pointless, normal exposure won’t cause you any harm.

Taken's avatar

Wake up! Your tracked by your gps enhanced devices phones and yes aluminum helps block signals effects on your body and mind. Experiment yourself. Not everyone is sensitive in the same ways. Electricity towers and wires kill people who are sensitive to them, Radio waves drive people nuts who are sensitive to them ( ex. whats the frequency Kennith by R.E.M. based on a real happening), cell phone and satellite signals slowly give people cancer. It’s a foul social norm to say that if it doesn’t effect you it wont effect someone else. Were all unique.

breedmitch's avatar

Welcome to Fluther @crazy.

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