Are you a fan of hustle and bustle? Do you thrive on the sights and sounds of the big city? Or do you instead prefer peace and quiet? Could you happily live in a rural area without traffic, big buildings, and lots of noise?
If it's peace and quiet you want, then we know a place you will love. It's a tiny town in the mountains of West Virginia called Green Bank. And it's known as "The Quietest Town in America."
Nestled amongst the Allegheny Mountains in West Virginia's Potomac Highlands region, Green Bank is home to less than 150 people. That, in itself, would make it a quiet little town, but Green Bank is much quieter than your average small town for one particular reason: the total absence of most common forms of modern wireless technology.
In Green Bank, you won't get a cell phone signal. You won't pull up any stations on your radio dial. You also won't find any wi-fi anywhere around. Ironically, all this modern wireless technology is banned in Green Bank due to the presence of some of the most sophisticated technology on Earth!
Green Bank sits within the National Radio Quiet Zone (NRQZ), which is a 13,000-square mile area in the eastern half of West Virginia, part of Virginia, and a sliver of Maryland. Cell phone use is restricted in the NRQZ to allow scientists to use advanced radio telescopes to listen to distant galaxies at the edge of the universe.
The closer you get to Green Bank, the more severe the restrictions become. This is because Green Bank is home to the world's largest steerable radio telescope: the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, which is operated by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.
The Green Bank Telescope, or GBT as it's known locally, features a reflecting surface over two acres wide. Standing 485 feet tall, the GBT weighs 17 million pounds! With its sophisticated technology, the GBT can hear sounds from hundreds of millions of miles away, allowing scientists from all over the world to explore our own solar system, as well as distant galaxies.
Radio telescopes, like the GBT, allow scientists to produce images of celestial bodies by recording their radio emissions from the sky. This wouldn't be possible, however, unless competing noise from wireless technology here on Earth is virtually eliminated in the area of the telescope.
In addition to banning cell phones, radios, and wi-fi routers, the scientists who use the GBT even frown upon the use of microwave ovens in Green Bank. The loss of these modern conveniences might make Green Bank unappealing to many people. For some, though, the quiet town of Green Bank is the perfect place to seek refuge from illnesses they believe are related to electromagnetic hypersensitivity.