The Luxembourg effect

Posted: July 7, 2011 by tchannon in climate, Uncategorized


The infamous Luxembourg effect harks back to the time after WW2 when the British government refused to break the BBC monopoly and allow popular radio.

A very powerful transmitter based in Luxembourg broadcast commerical popular music to England during the 1950s through 1970s, only declining in popularity when the added action of offshore pirate radio forced the hand of the Wilson government. Commerical broadcast was allowed and the BBC started Radio 1 in non-commerical competition.

That is not the Luxembourg effect!

Some radio waves reflect off ionosphere layers, depending on may things, frequency, degree of ionisation (solar state), time of day (varies during the diurnal cycle), height of the layers.

Luxembourg was too far away for normal daytime reception but during the evenings and night medium wave (mf) will reflect off a layer for medium range reception.

A strange thing happened. Quite often radio receivers will respond to station on a different frequency, a common design deficiency. However, Luxembourg used a very powerful transmitter and this was modulating other radio signals caused by non-linearity in the ionosphere. The station could be heard on top of other stations.

That is the Luxembourg effect.

What in heaven’s name does that have to do with TSI spectra?


The wavelength of Radio Luxembourg was 208, a number that keeps on turning up in paleo solar spectra. In this case a loud sharp line.

I notice there is a sharp 87 year line again, twice Saros. (the Barycentre repeat period)    twice the frequency, half the period of the solar barycentre repeat period.

[finger trouble, sorry about that]

  1. tallbloke says:

    This is a terrific study Tim, well done!

    Look at those intriguing multiples doubling up from 44 and 55 years.

    Maybe those proxy data do contain good information after all. 🙂

  2. Roger Andrews says:

    Douglas Adams was wrong? It’s 208, not 42?

  3. malagaview says:

    I thought it was this guy who got it right every time 🙂

    Horace Batchelor, Department One, Keynsham, spelt K-E-Y-N-S-H-A-M, Keynsham, Bristol

    [ ]

  4. Tenuc says:

    Wow… G# is very close at 207.65Hz. Wonder what sort of tune you could get out of the above graph???

    What’s even spookier is 208/5 ~ 42… 🙂

  5. Tim Channon says:

    See, flip and shift, 208, 802, 42.

  6. Ray Tomes says:

    Interesting background, BUT when numbers have units you cannot just match them by ignoring the units. There is no reason that 208 years relates to 208 kHz (or whatever the units are). Because 208 years is 75,970 days, so shouldn’t that be 75.97 kHz? Well no, it shouldn’t even be that. When numbers have units, the units do not mix and match. When that is done it is numerology. As such, it is not even self consistent because of the fact that units can be changed.

  7. Brian W. says:

    Nice try, but at the time of the effect Radio Luxembourg was transmitting on a frequency of 230khz (1304 metres) with a power of 200kw. Listeners in southern England were listening to Radio Paris at the time (959khz, 312 metres, 100kw).

  8. Tim Channon says:

    [amused] Oh dear.

    Once again history is shewn a very tricky subject.

    I wasn’t paying attention to Lux. in the earliest times, nor really a listener later on. I’ll take your word for it.

    Up until the mid 1990s I had a long interest in radio, worked behind the scenes in broadcast as an equipment designer and supplier, backroom. This is not the place to recount.

  9. Faustino aka Genghis Cunn says:

    The first European broadcast of Elvis Presley was on Radio Luxembourg in February 1956, Heartbreak Hotel I think. tallbloke, I heard it in Newcastle upon Tyne, are your photos from Hartlepool an indication of neo-Geordieness?

  10. tallbloke says:

    Lol, No, I’m a Cheshire cat originally, and an honorary tyke from the age of two. The missus is from Durham though, and has friends in monkey hanging territory. When we went to the tall ships event, my mate Rob said he thought the real reason the locals hung the monkey was because they were jealous of its good looks. 🙂

  11. Alexander Harvey says:

    At the heart of the issue was “needle time” which is quite different to the monopoly argument. The BBC was restricted, by existing contracts, internal preference, and union pressure to a very small amout of recorded music in order to protect the livelihood of muscians.

    The BBC responded (1967) to the closure of the priates with a station that relied heavily on recorded material. An argument could be made that the timing of the libralisation of both needle time and the opening of the airwaves to commercial stations (1972?) acted to favour the BBC initially but there was a long interval during which the emphasis went from the provision of popular music (the needle time issue) to the granting of commercial licences (the monopoly issue).