There are a few people who have influenced research on radiation, one of whom is Dr. Allan Frey, biophysicist, and engineering psychologist.

His work has changed the scientific approach to the subject of radiation and made it an important topic for other scientists. What has he done?

Can you hear radiation?

Measurement devices such as Geiger counters make a series of clicking or static buzzing noises in response to radiation. Older measurement devices converted radioactive activity into electricity, which could be heard through a speaker. This is often the ‘radiation’ sound we might hear on films and television programmes today.

In 1960 Allan Frey was 25 years old, he was working at General Electric’s Advanced Electronics Center at Cornell University. One day a technician came to him with unexpected news, his job was to measure the signals emitted by radars and he claimed to be able to hear them. The radar was giving off short signals over several periods of time. When Frey visited the facility where the technician worked, he said he also could hear the signals. He then decided to investigate this further.

Frey decided that the effect described by the technician was in his opinion, factual; the radiation could cause audible buzzes or clicks. Microwave radiation (as that was the kind of radiation emitted from the radar mentioned above) could be heard by humans but not in the same way that sound waves are perceived.

According to Frey, it occurred in the brain itself where tiny electrical fields were generated by the microwaves interacting with the brain cells. Supposedly, many deaf people were also able to hear microwave radiation.

This phenomenon was called ‘microwave hearing’ and it is also known by the name ‘the Frey effect’. Some of the workers claimed that ‘microwave hearing’ was accompanied by side effects such as dizziness and headaches and that signals of radiation could be heard by them even at a distance of 100m from the radar.

Allan Frey became the most active researcher on the health effects of microwave radiation in the United States. His studies were funded by the Office of Naval Research and the American army because of the expanding use of radars by the U.S. military at that time. He was testing his theories on rats and frogs, these animals reacted to smaller doses of radiation than we know are emitted from modern smartphones. He was a pioneer in the field of radiation and its impact on living creatures.

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