Girl Genius
Girl Genius

This article is about a phenomenon in physics and a character trait. For other uses, see Heterodyne (disambiguation).

Agatha hard at work and making music

Heterodyning[1] is the combination of two or more frequencies to create new and different ones. It is also an extremely complex way of humming, which appears to aid Heterodynes in concentration and allow them to think more clearly. It is described in the novels as enhancing their ability to remain in The madness place by reducing or eliminating ambient noise.[2]

The ability appears to be innate for members of the Heterodyne family, and in fact was the most obvious sign of Agatha Heterodyne's imminent breakthrough. However, it can also be reproduced mechanically , and might be imitable from memory. (although in the print novel he's simply humming, without any mention of heterodyning or anything strange with the sound)

This is a strong indicator to the people of Mechanicsburg that someone 'claiming' to be a Heterodyne is genuine, and many of them really need to be convinced of it.

One interesting machine-based instance of heterodyning that appears to have gone unnoticed is during the downloading of Lucrezia/Other into Agatha. The summoning machine produces a short passage of heterodyning music as part of the process . This opens up a big question regarding the connection between Other-tech and Heterodyne-tech and leads us back to the old question of what Lucrezia was doing when everything went all pear shaped.

Real World Phenomena[]

  • Heterodyne - A method of combining signals of different frequencies to produce a new frequency.
  • Stimming - The practice of producing repetitive stimulation to calm oneself, especially to block out external overstimulation or relieve internal feelings of anxiety. Most people stim occasionally, but it is most strongly associated with people on the autism spectrum.

See also[]