Introducing our vision of hell: Green Bank West Virginia, where you aren’t allowed to use mobile phones. Or watch TV. Or listen to the radio.
Internet and mobile phone use may be pretty prevalent these days, but in one part of the US you won’t see a single person clutching a phone or tablet. In Green Bank, West Virginia, you can’t even listen to the radio. This is the US National Radio Quiet Zone – and it’s a lot more heavily enforced than the ‘quiet zone’ on Virgin Trains.
The National Radio Quiet Zone extends 13,000 miles and is a complete no-go zone for gadget fans. Radio stations, mobile phones and Wi-Fi are all off the radar here, as are other devices that emit electromagnetic waves. Cable TV and satellite communications are banned too. Thankfully, there are only 200 residents in Green Bank, which is one reason the area was chosen as the national quiet zone. The tranquil location has been wireless emission-free since 1958.
Green Bank might sound like the sort of place run by people so frightened of the effects of Wi-Fi and microwaves that they wrap their gadgets in clingfilm. In fact, the ban on anything transmitting wireless signals is all in the name of science.
The blissful peace and quiet enables the powerful radio telescope at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory to detect even the smallest of energy emissions in space. The telescope, which is taller than the Statue of Liberty, is sited on farmland within West Virginia’s quiet zone. The quiet zone also ensures there is no interference to affect communications at the US Navy’s radio-receiving centre in Sugar Grove, West Virginia, which is nearby too.
To contact the outside world, residents need to use a payphone – the tourist office lists their locations. However, many residents appear to have embraced the lack of tech interference in their lives.