Where Does Static Come From?


♪ INTRO ♪ If you’ve ever used an old-school radio or TV—I can’t believe we have to say that now—you’re probably familiar with static: that crackly, fuzzy noise coming from the speakers or the random white dot pattern popping up on the screen. Whether it’s on a radio or TV, that static shows up for the same reason: unwanted electromagnetic waves interfering with the real signal. And some of those waves go all the way back to the Big Bang. TV and radio antennas receive information from a broadcasting tower via electromagnetic waves—specifically, radio waves. But there are other waves in the atmosphere that accidentally get in the way. Lightning storms, for instance, release large bursts of radio waves, and these waves interfere with the signal. The interference means your device ends up receiving a wave that’s slightly offset from the original. This messed up signal will correspond with some random sound or pixel, so you hear a random noise or see a small glitch. Even when there is no lightning, you’ll still receive some noise from other sources, like radiation from other electronics, or the radiation streaming out from the sun. You’ll even pick up some of the radiation left over from the Big Bang, called the cosmic microwave background radiation. Back in the day, if you tuned your TV so it was between broadcasting channels, then you would really notice the other sources of radiation. They would create random noise and changing pixels on your screen. But modern day devices don’t have that problem, mainly because they mostly use digital signals instead of analog signals. Digital signals also store more information in an electromagnetic wave, but they only use particular, discrete values. And if interference offsets that wave slightly, the TV can just guess what wave it was supposed to be and correct it. It takes pretty strong interference to change the wave enough to alter the TV’s interpretation, so you’re much less likely to end up with noise. For the most part, digital TV signals have replaced analog around the world, but analog radio is still being used in lots of places. Like probably your car. So if you have an analog radio and it tends to get crackly sometimes, just remember: you’re getting a little glimpse into lightning storms, the majesty of our sun, and even into the beginning of our universe itself. Thank you for asking, and thanks especially to all of our patrons on Patreon who keep these answers coming. If you would like to submit questions to be answered, or get some videos a few days early, go to And don’t forget to go to
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100 thoughts on “Where Does Static Come From?”

  1. Hammy Technoid says:

    You get static from the liberal media when you tell them they're fake news… Oh Snap!

  2. Burn2Cinders says:

    "I'll put a shock to your system". STATIC SHOCK!!!

  3. π“Šˆ π€π¬π©π‘π¨ππžπ₯ π“Š‰ says:

    And so the creationists cried

  4. John Payne says:

    Back in the day, there was no such thing as pixels; there were just raster lines. πŸ˜‰

  5. Cliff Block says:

    The static I hear is caused by Liberals on my tv. Now I am going outside to see if the neighbors kids create a perfect universe when they pop off some firecrackers.

  6. Hyperblader says:

    Why can't we just call them crts? I don't really know what tv your talking about when you call them "old school"

  7. workernet says:

    Where i do live DTV is actually worse, image randomly freezes and some really weird glitches show up on screen. no it's not my equipment, the same happen at neighbor houses

  8. DentalPro says:

    HANK GREEN YOU MAD GENIUS! I love your videos.

  9. Kelcey Nickson says:

    I wonder how much static you would pick up in a cave one mile below ground

  10. Sheldon Robertson says:

    I thought the graphic was a microwave. I didn't see a CRT television set.

  11. The One Percent says:

    why is there annoying static in this video? -.-

  12. Cameron Green says:

    Favorite even about stufwg or grade standing harsh one.

  13. Yuhstin says:

    Joy Villa

  14. l l says:

    This video is completely false. Static is actually just corn niblets and dead weathermen. Rick said so.

  15. Harmsy says:

    Not just a radio or television. If you record and edit your own audio you'll run into static, as well. The microphone's cord can act as an antenna to pick up radio waves from all the sources you mentioned, and then if you take it into Audacity or some other sound editing program, you can actually hear it.

  16. Joel PotatoCatProductions says:

    Why is there static around my anus?

  17. Extra Spicy says:

    Watch this and then my friend ask's where douse static come from
    (About to say right answer but I say) GHOST

  18. Black Screen says:

    "Can you turn the radio off? The static is really annoying."
    "Fuck you Im listening to the creation of the universe right now"

  19. Long curly hair, touch if u dare says:

    Public Service Announcement
    Go view Not Today by BTS
    ARMY Needs Your Help

  20. Dave B says:

    That was really not very informative. πŸ™

  21. That boy Kenny says:

    Yea i never thought about it until now flat screens dont get static damn i feel old

  22. DThackz says:

    Why do people believe the Big Bang is real?!?!? The chance of this universe coming from nothing and being so complex is so small. Just think about it.

  23. December Disciple says:

    So does this mean analog could be used as a source for tracking radiation?

  24. Jephthah San Pedro says:

    Duh, it's where Sadako comes out from.

  25. okaminokuro says:

    cool vid as always, why only 23 on trending? should be much higher than that.

  26. TGGH Gladman says:

    I work with a fm radio and when a forklift goes by it. It interferes with the radio why ?

  27. shingshongshamalama says:

    Is their static on Uranus?

  28. Chodda says:


  29. Mia Liana says:

    I just need to know if anyone agrees that static has a smell, I've researched it and many say it's ozone. Yet I've talked to some friends and people have never smelled something staticky!

  30. chistine lane says:

    What do you think, Finn? Can we pull back the layer of static and reach into the source of all being? Behind this curtain of patterns, this random pattern generator… so clever, right here in every home, watching us from a one-sided mirror.

    -Simon petrikov

  31. victornpb says:

    Why isn't there background noise on frequencies above microwave, I mean lower frequencies?

  32. Tanuki Sol says:

    Why do scabs itch

  33. Truls Bekk says:

    Digital radio ftw. (DAB radio). I now have around 40 channels. Before only 6 on FM.

  34. Fox says:

    Pretty sure every person with a 9th grade education knows how static is formed

  35. Alex Siemers says:

    Good job at getting to the "trending" list, SciShow!

  36. MrPrince46 says:

    so candle cove was a wave from the goverment maybe

  37. Aceofdeath4life says:

    but how to potato? = no big bang= bullshit%science=evolution+faith=scishow?

  38. Boorider7 says:

    But where does buffering come from??

  39. Valiant Freedom says:

    I got an iq of 130 I still feel like a dumbass when i had a weaker iq I felt smart the more you know the more you realize how little you actually know

  40. Luke Hansen says:

    The Big Bang never happened. God created the universe about 10,000 years ago and I firmly believe that. I think people are so stupid when they believe in this so called "evolution."

  41. he_who_is_nobody says:

    It comes from Superhero Static Shock!

  42. Helljumper says:

    I'm the 700th comment

  43. Chase Holt says:

    Congrats getting 33rd on Trending πŸ˜€

  44. IsaacJamesTV says:

    The Big Bang isn't real. God created the earth in 7 days

  45. Maxie Pattie says:


  46. -- says:

    or the HBO theme

  47. Jonathan Dzwonar says:

    In my day when you said you were watching the big bang on tv static it meant you were tuning into scrambled porn.

  48. Unique says:

    Concise video. no bull shit. Gave it a like

  49. 000000 000000 says:

    What about the static on my socks ?

  50. parkplace6677 says:

    Static is when the thoughts in Donald Trump's head spill out into the air and we get a chance to see what he is thinking.

  51. mizuhonova says:

    Nice try Mr Fancy-Science-Pants. If that static is cosmic background radiation, then how come the signal comes back if I wack the TV enough times. EXPLAIN THAT!


  52. Nathan Carlson says:

    Big Bang my butt.

  53. wilmer Betancourth says:

    I don't kow if this may be the way to answer a silly question but, What happen when you throw a cilinder that has been vacuum into a a pool? Does it sink?

  54. kyle ford says:

    what going on scishow psyc

  55. Grant Schaures says:

    Thanks Hank!

  56. Emma Busby says:

    SciShow should do a video on voluntary control of the tensor tympani muscle!

  57. clicker123 says:

    Is Hank's hair green?

  58. Nicholas Rusanoff says:

    I feel old

  59. Just trying to get by in life. says:

    Old school? Dude, analog TV wasn't removed in the UK until 2012

  60. a. y says:

    Sci Show has gone down in my estimation over this video.
    Will they clarify what degree of external noise can be expected to appear as "static" and how that can dominate the internally generated noise within a TV receiver?
    This video is just plain wrong!

  61. Dan Feinberg says:

    "They only use particular, discrete values" is meaningless to anyone who doesn't already know where static comes from.

  62. Steven Wills says:

    but why is static black and white?

  63. Charles-A Rovira says:

    Not if you have digital TV.

  64. Adam Smith says:

    Now we have shitty digital TV which craps out on you over the tiniest move of a tree branch. At least with Analog you got SOMETHING if the signal wasn't perfect!

  65. cstgy says:

    Also these interferences follow a gaussian distribution

  66. GCWAPA says:

    Aliens are probably sending us secret messages and we just see static on our televisions.

  67. eriathdien says:

    So, what would an old TV in an electromagnetic-proof room show?

  68. Kate Groner says:

    I have antenna tv and the pixels can get blocky. like half the picture remains frozen wile the other half isn't. and same with the sound.

  69. Wizard Clip Audio says:

    Dude,… more people still use analog TV's in some capacity or another than you can possibly imagine. I certainly do, and prefer the CRT over LCD flat panels for the most part.

  70. Vital says:

    My atoms are also from the beginning of the universe

  71. Beckah M says:

    The digital TV signal in my area is HORRIBLE. I'd much rather deal with analog static than what looks and sounds like a skipping DVD

  72. Jose Ramos says:

    Usually from people who get on my nerves

  73. thuy nguyen says:

    My phone went down and I can stop playing this game, then I had to spend time with the family. They seem like good people
    iOS: ———
    Android: —-

  74. ThanksIfYourReadIt says:

    can someone calculate out when regular radio will stop picking up big bang waves forever?

  75. Dennis Vance says:

    All that cosmic microwave background radiation. Stupid beginning of the universe.

  76. Vinay N.K says:

    no mention of thermal noise ? strange

  77. Dave B says:

    To answer some one question "Where did the lithum helium and hydrogen come from?, See we don't know" :
    The hydrogen helium and lithium ( Elements one two, and three with
    masses 2, 4 and 6) were formed from the quark gluon soup. Top and bottom
    quarks formed in triplets to make protons and neutrons (proton is two
    up and one down and neutron is two down and one up, help together by
    gluons). As it cooled the strong weak and electromagnetic forces
    decoupled. There were top bottom and strange quarks. (first three
    lightest of six). This is all well proven and verified by experiments in
    particle accelerators. We dont know what happened when all four
    fundamental forces were combined, but we know what happened when the
    three separated..

  78. ihartevil says:

    thx for this awesomely ha bisky vid i loved this a lot you are so fucking awesome

  79. Thomas says:

    Digital signals aren't suffering from static noise because minor distortion is rectified and major distortion causes errors. Unlike analog distortion, digital errors are either corrected or will cause failure. So instead of showing noise, the system will stop the erroneous signal. Fun fact, TV noise is white because color signals require a very specific framing. Without the correct framing format, analog TVs will fall back to the legacy monochrome interpretation.

  80. xm377Moyocoyatzin says:

    Thanks for reminding us that we're old as fuck Hank.

  81. aaa303 says:

    So why haven't we switched to digital radio?

  82. JiveDadson says:

    Back in the day, a strong AM radio station's signal could cover half of the USA or more. Way too much artificial static for that nowadays.

  83. 240 Subscribers and no Videos found? says:

    How do the waves on the electromagnetic spectrum still exist after ~14 billion years?Β  Does this imply that waves can go on for eternity?

  84. SwiftTelly20 says:

    This was not the type of static I was thinking about πŸ™ I'm disappointed. I was thinking more about the type that can be in your clothes or hair. Answer me that please Sci show. Thanks

  85. Nicholas' Trombone says:

    Old school? I still use Cathode Ray Televisions πŸ™

  86. Llamarama Dingdong says:

    Why is there tv static in my eyes?

  87. Grace Simmons says:

    So I done how JUST found out that hank is John greens brother, and now I’m weirdly amazed. Both with them, and my own stupidity

  88. Titanic says:


  89. David Obal says:

    My Mic that plugs into my Xbox 1 controller makes static and I wonder why….?

  90. Isaiah Robles says:

    Did you know that that movie the ring she comes out of the static so that's why static comes from the ring and you can't turn the tv off when the creepy girl try's to come out of your tv πŸ“Ί

  91. Isaiah Robles says:

    And killers you..

  92. Isaiah Robles says:

    I meant killed you

  93. Xtremegaming says:


  94. Steve Steve says:

    God is every where maaaan

  95. TheNumerator6 says:

    Did anyone else get excited about the crasy course guy?

  96. lucid_delirium says:

    Scientism at its finest.

  97. Domen Gregorčič says:

    Dab and dvb-t suck because of static. Analog is better

  98. The demon Hunter says:

    Radiation from the Big Bang

  99. timmy 900 says:


  100. Devon LeClair says:

    According to my phone this video is called where does static come from …….

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