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RedPowerLady's avatar

Physics. Do the walls really have ears?

Asked by RedPowerLady (12576points) June 17th, 2009

A friend of mine was just talking about a Physics lecture she went to. They said that some paint has metal filaments that pick up sound. This includes specific sound. So by analyzing the paint in a room you can actually pick out phrases said in that room. They also said this is a method the CIA uses on occasion, analyzing the paint for such things.

So my question is, have you heard of this?
Any information I can read on it?
It sounds surreal, I don’t want to ask “Is it true?” because this was a very reliable friend who was talking about the subject but that question does cross my mind.

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18 Answers

DarkScribe's avatar

Was she stoned?

It is total nonsense. She might have it confused with resonant cavity eavesdropping as with the Russians in Berlin many years ago. That requires an active transmitter and receiver outside the building.

Likeradar's avatar

Uhhhh… woah.

I don’t know about the paint baloney, but I have heard that at some of these lectures there are phony audience members. When people are milling around waiting to be let in, these phonies are chatting with people and reporting back info like “lady in red dress wants to contact cousin who died in car accident.”

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

Sounds like something you’d see on CSI. It also sounds like complete bullshit.

btko's avatar

I don’t see how a metal filament in wall paint could hold the sound signatures of a conversation let alone a single sound.

DarkScribe's avatar

@jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities Sounds like something you’d see on CSI.

Don’t pick on CSI – it is one of the few frivolous shows that I will watch. Usually the technology is a bit exaggerated, but seldom imaginary. It is amazing how many people think that you can enhance a low res video still sufficiently to read the name on a shirt logo etc.

I only started watching it because of Marg Helenberger – I liked her when she played a hooker in China Beach.

Ivan's avatar

Yeah, I usually tend to reserve judgement until I see the data, but this is complete bullshit.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

@Judi The “science”? on Fringe is ridiculous, but I still love it.

whatthefluther's avatar

I’ve heard it is true, but that unfortunately, there is almost always a build-up of excessive wax that precludes accurate retention…wtf

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

when certain elements go from a liquid/semi liquid form to a solid, vibrations in the air, if they’re strong enough, can be caught in the now solid element/compound. A common example is the legend about the potter making a vase while Jesus Christ was bringing Lazerus back from the dead, the legend says that Jesus’ words were captured in the vase and playing back the recording could bring someone back to life.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

keep in mind that this almost never happens, and in almost all cases has been greatly exaggerated, but it is possible.

whatthefluther's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03…Now if we can only locate a vase-player!

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

lol well I’m pretty sure they have resonators for that sort of thing. I’m a physics major but I specialize in more electromechanical subjects so sound waves and the like are a little hazy with me so I’m not sure, I’ll look it up at some point and get back to you.

filmfann's avatar

You know how a speaker vibrates with music? The CIA found a way to read the vibrations on a window, allowing them to secretly “hear” what is being said on the other side of the glass. That is why Russians have music playing by their windows in their embassies.

DarkScribe's avatar

@filmfann The CIA found a way to read the vibrations on a window, allowing them to secretly “hear” what is being said on the other side of the glass.

You can buy that technology openly. Private investigators use it. We have a business called “The Spy Shop” not far from here and they sell various versions of such equipment. Laser based, they work like Doppler radar guns.

RedPowerLady's avatar

Interesting information so far. It sounds a bit like craziness to me as well but I can see the small bit of truth in it. Perhaps the speaker was just exaggerating their point.

Thank you @ABoyNamedBoobs03 .

loser's avatar

They do here. The walls are paper thin.

CMaz's avatar

All I know is I talk to the wall all the time.

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