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Hackaday Links: December 11, 2022

Hackaday Links: December 11, 2022

“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” That might be stretching things a bit, especially when the “paradise” in question is in New Jersey, but there’s a move afoot to redevelop the site of the original “Big Bang Antenna” that has some people pretty upset. Known simply as “The Horn Antenna” since it was built by Bell Labs in 1959 atop a hill in Holmdel, New Jersey, the antenna was originally designed to study long-distance microwave communications. But in 1964, Bell Labs researchers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson accidentally discovered the microwave remnants of the Big Bang, the cosmic background radiation, using the antenna, earning it a place in scientific history. So far, the only action taken by the township committee has been to authorize a study to look into whether the site should be redeveloped. But the fact that the site is one of the highest points in Monmouth County with sweeping views of Manhattan has some people wondering what’s really on tap for the site. A petition to save the antenna currently has about 3,400 signatures, so you might want to check that out — after all, you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.

Eliza rides again? Maybe a little bit, at least judging by the current fascination with ChatGPT. The AI chatbot went live on November 30 with a “research release” that’s free to use, at least for now. People are using it for everything from getting help with coding questions to writing poetry, with mixed results. One Hackaday writer, who shall remain nameless, even used ChatGPT to write an article about a specific project on Reddit “in the style of Hackaday.” Relax, it wasn’t published — we just looked it over internally on Discord. While it sounded convincing enough superficially, the article was hot garbage as far as facts and specifics about the project. We could be a little biased about that, though. We also spotted an “interview” with ChatGPT over on IEEE Spectrum, which supposedly captures answers to questions put to the chat bot. Honestly, it reads a little like the interview with HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Also in ChatGPT news, it looks like the chatbot is getting a little too chatty for the likes of Stack Overflow. The platform has wielded the ban-hammer on content generated by ChatGPT, which apparently has become a popular way for people to pad out their stats. SO’s ban, which is characterized as “temporary,” is based on the fact that while ChatGPT-generated answers are often factually incorrect, they can look pretty legit. We’re honestly not sure exactly how this differs from human-generated answers, or how SO’s mods will tell the difference. So naturally, we asked ChatGPT to clarify:

Feel better?

And finally, a couple of weeks ago we featured a really interesting in-depth video tour of a 1,000,000-watt FM supertower. There was a ton of eye-candy in that one, from the hardline coax to the massive copper pipes used in the tower’s massive fleet of combiners. Now, Jeff Geerling and his dad have dropped a follow-up video that has a little more detail on that “1,000,000-watt” figure. The details are sure to entertain any RF geek, as is the somewhat terrifying look at what that much RF can do if something goes wrong.