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Theremin's Bug: How the Soviet Union Spied on the US Embassy for Seven Years (hackaday.com)
79 points by ajarmst on Oct 18, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 11 comments



A sweet and short read about the Thing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thing_(listening_device) There's an article in wiki as well, but reading stuff with personal touch is a lot nicer


This is also an excellent story about it: https://thecorrespondent.com/3789/operation-easy-chair-or-ho...


> In 1938, with the Nazi threat growing stronger, Theremin returned to Russia. He expected to send for his wife a few weeks after his arrival. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be the case. Léon and Lavinia never saw each other again.

I was always under the impression he was abducted from his home in NY and sent back. At least, that was the story told in Theramin, An Electronic Odyssey[0].

[0] - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fAOpVAHwLic


If this kind of technical creativity (way outside of the box) was possible in Russia under the Soviet yoke, then what kind of things are they capable of creating today?

Perhaps a whole bunch of electronic warfare devices like those used against AEGIS and the USS Donald Cook? And what about the fact that NASA and the US space program are so dependent on Russian rocket engines? Or the Russian jet that can hover or reverse in mid flight?

We know that the Russian system of higher education is very rigourous and places a lot of emphasis on mathematics Could this be the root of it? Or is it something else in the culture of Russia?

One of the biggest mistakes of the USA after the Cold War was to stop taking Russia seriously and to stop watching what Russians were doing. The west accepted the views put forward by Ukrainians about Russia, instead of going direct to the source. Now we know that neo-nazi forces within Ukraine were spreading misinformation about Russia in order to benefit Ukrainian oligarchs.

It is time to move beyond this. More of us need to learn Russian fluently and analyze Russia based on direct knowledge of the country and people. Russia isa powerful nation and it has a rich and vibrant culture. There is a lot to learn there, not just about technology but also about how to approach and solve impossible problems.


I remember reading about this back in school in the library; I found it very sophisticated that it was specifically designed with no power source, and thus almost impossible to detect. A very, very clever design.

And also a wonderful illustration of political machinations, in that the olive branch extended to you often has a covert team watching exactly how your fingers grasp it.


Wow I'd heard this story before but I never knew that the bug had no power source. Thats pretty slick.


Pedantic, I know, but the projected beam was it's power source. It had no _built-in_ power source, which is pretty cool, all the same.


Check the comment by BrightBlueJim. I too have thought that the common description of "The Thing" was incomplete. To make it work well enough to be practical it would of required some non-linear element.

Current bug detectors explicitly detect non-linear elements. A hilarious practical joke involves adding diodes to the concrete mix for a high security facility. Back in the cold war the Russians actually did this to the Americans in Moscow.


I wonder if the microwave based "acoustic attacks" in cuba were simply their attempt at powering such a bug.


The Thing is on display at the NSA museum in Maryland. Very interesting museum for crypto history.


snoopy RFID




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