LET ME OUT!!!! I need out! I need out! See?
In other news, this... this is why I stay out of the valley! Ok, not really why (I couldn't really just pick one). It's a strange place!! See? Now I have proof!
My friend Stace sent this to me:
Valley has keyless encounters of the weird kind
By JULIET V. CASEY, J.M. KALIL and KEITH ROGERS
Was it the storm clouds, sun spots or Area 51?
By late Friday afternoon, some locksmiths, car dealerships and towing companies had been flooded with calls about mysteriously malfunctioning keyless vehicle entry devices.
There were nearly as many theories as there were lockouts. But there were no firm answers as to why the remote devices stopped working.
"Maybe it's those little green men up north," said Nellis Air Force Base spokesman Mike Estrada, whose own keyless entry system failed. "Are there sun spots? I've been trying to figure it out. It happened to me right after lunch."
Estrada resorted to using his key to unlock his car door, but that set off his alarm.
ABC Locksmiths received 30 calls from drivers stumped by the failure of the key systems. Quality Towing received about 25 calls, and two Ford dealerships reported receiving scores of calls about the problem.
But ABC dispatcher Milo Ferguson didn't need to field any calls to know something was amiss.
"My car is one of them," Ferguson said. "It's some kind of electrical disturbance. Either that or a nuclear bomb went off a few miles from here."
Jerry Bussell, Gov. Kenny Guinn's adviser on homeland security, ruled out terrorism and described the phenomenon as a "frequency problem."
"This is an anomaly that we're going to check out," Bussell said.
The Country Ford dealership in Henderson, which had handled more than 100 calls by late Friday afternoon, contacted the national Ford headquarters for an explanation.
Katie Baumann, service operator for the dealership, said the Ford company headquarters informed her that "a lot of static electricity in the air could be messing up the radio waves" the devices use.
Local forecasters said they doubted the widespread failures could be attributed to any strange weather patterns.
"We've heard about it, and we don't think so," said Steve Johnson of the National Weather Service in Las Vegas.
Friday's cloudy weather made Bill O'Donnell doubt the theory of static interference. O'Donnell, a research associate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Physics Department and an electrical engineer, said that in "damp weather like we're having today, there won't be much of a static charge in the air. The charge just won't build up in these conditions."
Another possible source of the problem: the sun.
"Solar flares can produce and eject large numbers of charge particles, and usually the Earth's magnetic field deflects them before they enter the atmosphere," said chemistry and physics Professor Malcolm Nicol, the director of the High Pressure Science and Engineering Center at UNLV. "But if they are very large, they have been known to destroy the electronics systems in satellites and cause other problems down here."
However, the Big Bear Solar Observatory in Big Bear, Calif., reported low solar activity Friday.
According to the Federal Communications Commission, the low-power radio frequency transmitters inside keyless entry devices are similar to those found in other everyday items such as garage door openers, remote-controlled toys, cordless telephones, building alarm systems and the rapidly spreading wireless fidelity computer networks, which are commonly referred to as "wi-fi."
Paul Oei, an electronics engineer with the Los Angeles office of the FCC, said keyless entry systems operate on unlicensed frequencies. The devices can fail when they are near an antenna emitting high radio frequency energy. But that scenario would affect only vehicles in a limited area, he said.
Oei said he has never investigated a problem similar to Friday's phenomenon, but he recalled hearing about an incident years ago in which garage-door openers stopped working in an area when Air Force One was nearby.
"Who knows what the military could be using at any given time?" he said.
At least some Ford and General Motors keyless entry systems use the same radio spectrum bands that are used in military operations, according to the Web site of the U.S. Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
"These bands are heavily used worldwide for critical military air-traffic control and tactical training communications," the site states.
John Pike, director of globalsecurity.org, a defense and intelligence policy organization based near Washington, D.C., said military technology could easily be responsible for Friday's phenomenon. One such operation is jamming, which involves the release of electromagnetic energy to interfere with an enemy's radar detection capability.
Pike noted that particularly in Nevada, the military has a number of unacknowledged programs in jamming and radar and high-powered microwave weapons, any of which might have the potential to bring chaos to certain frequencies.
Estrada said Nellis officials checked into the possibility that military aircraft capable of sending out electronic jamming signals were involved, but they didn't believe that was the case.
"We've got a jammer in the inventory, but I don't think we've got any out here, let alone flying," he said.
Even if electronic warfare aircraft were flying, they operate at much different frequencies than commercial devices, such as garage-door openers and remote keyless entry systems, Estrada explained.
"The military is certainly capable of fibbing about these things," Pike said. "But, for the military to have done it, they would have to have seriously miscalculated the effects of some test."
Friday's phenomenon occurred as Nellis officials were preparing for next week's Red Flag air combat training exercise. The exercise, which involves dozens of fighter jets, bombers and other military aircraft from around the world, begins Monday and runs through March.
Chuck Clark, of the rural Lincoln County community of Rachel, is an Area 51 watchdog and researcher who monitors the government's classified installation near the dry lake bed of Groom Lake, 90 miles north of Las Vegas.
Clark said some of the high-tech equipment that he and other Area 51 buffs believe exists at the installation routinely cause odd occurrences in Rachel similar to what many people in Clark County experienced Friday.
"We get electronic jamming all the time," he said by telephone.
News reports of a similar phenomenon several years ago in Washington state suggested the outages were linked to the arrival of military aircraft carriers to Bremerton.
In March 2001, the keyless entry failures began at the same time the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson returned to Bremerton. Then in April of that year, the outages began one day after the carrier USS Abraham Lincoln arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
Review-Journal writers Omar Sofradzija and Carri Geer Thevenot contributed to this report