Created By: Unknown%20TroperDecember 23, 2009
Troped

Geiger Counter Static

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A Geiger Counter is a device used to measure levels of radioactivity. When it picks up radioactivity, it creates a kind of "crackling" noise like this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbSBWQc8YKg around 1:00. I've seen(rather heard) this noise used to represent radioactivity or toxic waste in movies, tv, and videogames, I've heard it pretty much everywhere.

one example I can think of is in Psychonauts. If you roll over some Green bubbling goo on your levitation ball, it produces this noise.

Seen it a Million Times, etc. It's commonly used as laboratory-setting background. Could anyone help me out and add some examples?
Community Feedback Replies: 33
  • December 22, 2009
    RocketDude
    Half-Life has this, of course.
  • December 22, 2009
    goodtimesfreegrog
    As does Fallout 3, which also has an on-screen counter for how many rads you're taking per second, and how irradiated you are at the moment.
  • December 23, 2009
    Assistant
    Often comes up in The Simpsons since Homer works at a nuclear powerplant.
  • December 23, 2009
    Arivne
    Film
    • Occurs in The War Of The Worlds (1953) when a scientist uses a Geiger counter to check out the first fallen "meteor".

    Geiger Counter Static?
  • December 23, 2009
    BlackMageJ
    Samus' power suit has one in Metroid Prime- Phazon is radioactive.
  • December 23, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Geiger Counter Static sounds better
  • December 23, 2009
    random surfer
    This is how Bruce Banner discovered there was something wrong.
    Rick Jones:The whole world's going batty! Even this kookie radio - it won't play! All it gives out is static!
    Banner: That's no radio! It's a Geiger Counter! It measures radiation! Listen to it! It's going wild! It's getting louder and louder! Faster and faster! What's happening??
    Cue first ever Hulk Out.
  • December 23, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Heard from the devices used by the CDA in Monsters Inc.
  • December 23, 2009
    Premonition_45
    I think it was in Thunderball in Bond's gadget camera.
  • December 23, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    A radioactive dolphin causes confusion in one episode of The Very World of Milton Jones because he isn't sure what's making the clicks.
  • December 23, 2009
    Tiiba
    Deus Ex in an unfinished building in Paris.
  • December 23, 2009
    Grahamr
    Call Of Duty Modern Warfare. It goes off around Chernobyl if you try to leave.
  • December 23, 2009
    Fanra
    System Shock 2 has that kind of noise when you enter a radioactive area. Justified by the fact that you have a cyber implant that feeds you various noises and images as needed.
  • December 24, 2009
    joeyjojo
    Very common in video games even if you're character shouldn't logically have one..
  • February 1, 2010
    Arivne
    Film
  • January 17, 2011
    Arivne
    Film
    • James Bond
      • Occurs in Dr No when James Bond uses a Geiger counter on the part of Quarrel's boat where Strangways placed the samples from Crab Key. Averted later on when Dr. No's technicians check Bond and Honey Rider for radioactive contamination and there is no static at all.
  • January 18, 2011
    randomsurfer
    in the Get Smart film Max has a Geiger Counter in his watch, which is how he discovers that some bad guys he happens to run into in a restaurant restroom are the same ones who recently stole some radioactive material. But this one didn't make the usual GC static sound, it made a buzzing "alert" noise (like a cell phone set to vibrate).
  • January 18, 2011
    PaulA
    Clarification request: Are we looking for all examples of the noise, or just examples where it's not literally a geiger counter making the noise?
  • January 18, 2011
    EponymousKid
    ...So.... Geiger counters are now a trope?

    People, chairs, etc.
  • January 18, 2011
    LarryD
    IMHO this should be an entry in Stock Sound Effects.
  • January 19, 2011
    thegrenekni3t
    I don't remember the details, but a Geiger counter and its characteristic clicking noise play a prominent role in the X Minus One episode "No Contact."
  • January 20, 2011
    Koveras
    @PaulA & EponymousKid: I think this is mainly about "Clicking noise = Radiation" notion in fiction, which is easily recognizable by anyone even if they haven't heard of Geiger before. Looks like a trope to me.

    • World In Conflict produces clicking noise in the speakers when zooming on a recent nuclear explosion site.
    • In Mass Effect 2, the clicking noises of various pitch sound when the planetary scanner stumbles upon a metal deposit. This is done purely for the Rule Of Cool, however, since all metals found in the game are not radioactive (except, maybe, Eezo).
  • January 20, 2011
    EponymousKid
    Predators make a clicking noise, but they aren't radioactive.
  • January 28, 2011
    TBeholder
    Geiger Crackle?
  • January 28, 2011
    krssven
    It's hard to see how using a Geiger Counter could be a trope in itself. I agree that it's probably better off in Stock Sound Effects. Unless you're treating certain uses of them in fiction...
  • January 28, 2011
    TBeholder
    Maybe Stock Sound Effects.

    @EponymousKid: As i see it, the trope-y part is that it's mostly The Coconut Effect: radiometers in Real Life aren't obliged to click (if one has some sound indication, it's more likely to be a threshold alarm than constant clicks). Though i don't know, maybe there is an exotic model still sold in Hollywood that does...
  • January 28, 2011
    fulltimeD
    Used in the mid-4th season finale on Battlestar Galactica
  • January 28, 2011
    LeeM
    Pretty sure this is Truth In Television, at least for old-fashioned geiger counters which emit a click every time an energetic subatomic particle strikes the detector. The more particles, the more clicks, until the characteristic crackle is produced.
  • January 28, 2011
    randomsurfer
    IMO the use of Geiger Counters is tropable. I would hazard a guess that a large majority of people have been exposed to them only via their appearance in media.
  • January 28, 2011
    TBeholder
    @ LeeM yep, until the moment when digital counters became available. Then it mostly turned into a coconut (because the sort of people who really need it tend to ask "exactly how much?" and rarely can give or take an answer in musical terms ;] ). And it's invoked as such, including residential-grade devices like the one in a clip OP linked. There is some pro equipment that can be set to "click on every detected particle", but it's an option (normally turned off, but sometimes used to pinpoint or make sure moderate values are shown not because components are baking).
  • January 28, 2011
    AFP
    Indeed, if Geiger Counters are People Sit On Chairs for you... man, I'm glad I don't live there.
  • January 28, 2011
    TBeholder
    @AFP: Addmitedly, they have low sensitivity to high-energy gamma. Then again, i have no idea how to find a small source with measurement time 45 sec - but for "time to panic" purpose it's not that a big deal. =) And semiconductors aren't much better.
  • January 28, 2011
    c0ry
    It's not tropeable if you're talking about Geiger Counters, but if you're talking about their characteristic noise, it is, as someone else said, a stock sound effect.

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