China Bans Cell Phones & Other Devices From Giant Telescope

Photo: Pxhere

Chinese officials have announced that they are imposing a ban on certain technologies with 5 kilometers of their famed Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope. As reported in Wired, Tourists and visitors who are caught using smartphones, wearable devices, digital cameras, and drones within that distance run the risk of facing hefty fines.

The telescope, which is located in Guizhou, China, was originally designed to be a must-see spot for tourists. Travelers from across the globe came to explore the area and learn about the science behind the impressive device. Unfortunately, many of those people brought along their own technology — and those little devices tend to emit radio waves.

Those radio waves have posed a major problem for scientists attempting to study the cosmos. They can essentially block out important data and compromise the information gathered by the radio telescope. In order to combat this issue, officials have instituted the ban, which began early last month.

The mammoth telescope was designed to be highly sensitive to radio waves. This allows it to gather data from black holes, exploded stars, and other celestial bodies. However, the influx of radio waves from tourists eager to snap a selfie with the telescope has caused major issues with their research.

That’s where the new electronics ban comes in. If anyone is caught with any sort of electronics within the 5 kilometers surrounding the telescope, they can face a fine of around $4,500. And the maximum penalty can be up to a whopping $30,000 — all the more incentive to leave your devices behind when you head to the telescope. If you’re between 5 and to kilometers away, the restrictions are slightly less stringent — but you still need to be careful about what electronics you’re using around the telescope.

This isn’t the first telescope that’s needed protective from electronics in order to function, either. There’s a 13,000 square-mile radio-quiet zone in the Appalachian Mountains of the United States that protects the Green Bank Telescope.

Scientists and officials alike are confident that these new restrictions will have a positive impact on the data gathered by the telescope. Whether this will impact the tourism economy that has built up around the famed telescope remains to be seen.

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