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Wireless Networking Hardware Science

BBC Rules That Wi-Fi Radiation Findings Were Wrong 210

Posted by Zonk
from the gee-that's-unexpected dept.
Stony Stevenson writes "A Panorama programme claiming that Wi-Fi creates three times as much radiation as mobile phone masts was 'misleading', an official BBC complaints ruling has found. The team involved in the research came under fire from the school where the 'investigations' were held for scaremongering, but now the BBC has come out with an official ruling. 'The programme included only one contributor (Professor Repacholi) who disagreed with Sir William, compared with three scientists and a number of other speakers (one of whom was introduced as a former cancer specialist) who seconded his concerns.'"
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BBC Rules That Wi-Fi Radiation Findings Were Wrong

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  • by ericferris (1087061) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @01:19PM (#21573611) Homepage
    I am sick and tired of hearing voodoo science scaremongers. So here we go.

    As far as possible interactions with the human body go, the 900 MHz to 1900 MHz spectrum is roughly the same. Both WiFi and cell phones use bursts of transmissions with approximately the same spectral characteristics. So we can simplify the problem and focus only on intensity.

    A cell phone that is far from the nearest tower can transmit up to one watt. A typical home router transmits 100 mW (one tenth of a cell phone). A very powerful cell tower transmits 1000 W. However, signal intensity per surface unit decreases as the square of the distance. So if you are 100 meters (300 feet, one-half furlong for our US friends) from a 1-kW cell tower, you get the same exposure as if you are one metter (0.005 furlong, 3 ft) from a wifi router. And of course, all of this is dwarfed by the intensity of signal you get a few centimeters away from a 1-W cell phone.

    So test cell phones. If they don't fry your brain, forget about wifi routers and towers, their effect is negligeable next to a cell phone's signal flux. And cell phones were innocented by several studies.

    Attention journalists: When you cover technology, either learn the basics of what you're talking about or go back to freelancing for people rags.

  • dumbed down (Score:2, Insightful)

    by owlnation (858981) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @01:21PM (#21573645)
    Who in the UK can be surprised by this?

    It's been obvious that the BBC's standards have been gradually eroding for about 20 years. It probably hasn't reached bottom yet. Biased tabloid journalism, and product placement to get round the no advertising rules, are the daily norm, not the exception nowadays.

    Focus groups lead to mediocrity and bias. A similar thing is happening to the UK in many other areas too. If you have an IQ over 95 you're a statistical outlier, and are no longer catered to by corportations, government or the media in the UK.
  • by digitig (1056110) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @01:24PM (#21573703)

    If the BBC shows a rerun of Sesame Street that claims that 1 + 1 = 2, do they have to give equal time to mathematicians who claim that it isn't? (Where would they find them?)

    If the program was wrong, it wasn't wrong because they had the wrong number of scientists on each side.

  • "Radiation" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bazman (4849) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @01:50PM (#21574125) Journal
    Notice how they refer to it as 'radiation', because radiation is clearly a *bad thing*. It killed all those people in Hiroshima didn't it? Nasty.

    Well, never mind that 1W of radiation coming out of your phone or Wifi router. There's maybe 100W coming out of your light bulbs (or less if you have Al Gore-compliant lightbulbs). And what's more, that radiation doesn't pass straight through you, a lot of it is intercepted by the body! I think we need a campaign to stop radiation in the 400nm to 700nm wavelength range from infecting our children! Ban it now! That, and Dihydrogen Monoxide...

    Bad Science [badscience.net] has lots of info on this and other science quackery.

  • Re:I can't wait! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BlueParrot (965239) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @01:58PM (#21574253)
    I like to group them all together into one cathegory I refer to as "morons". It doesn't matter if you are dealing with neo-cons, green peace, ID promoters... It is all the same and it goes:

    1)I think A
    2)People with better qualifications say A is a bad idea
    3)People with better qualifications have been wrong before
    4)Therefore they are wrong now.
    5)Thus A is a good idea.
    6)People who don't want A are opposed to good ideas, so they must be evil.
    7)It is all a conspiracy to tax/ruin our morals/benefit coorporations/steal your freedom/eat babies...

    Really, from Homeopaths to Inteligent Designers, it is always the same. "Qualified people are sometimes wrong, so you should listen to my wacky idea instead." It is usually commbined with some conspiracy theory or general criticism of the scientific method interspersed with emotional or irrelevant arguments "Al gore is wasteful and just want to STEAL your tax dollars, hence GW isn't real." etc...
  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @02:07PM (#21574393) Journal
    My microwave melts butter at 10s, and that's the outside. I've cut through it and it isn't melted on the inside, though it is soft all the way through.

    I used to be scared microwaves were poisoning the food. Then I learned in chemistry what was actually going on (it was causing water molecules to vibrate, which generates friction with other molecules, which turns into heat.)

    Laugh? I heard a guy on the radio not a year ago doing scare mongering as to what microwaves were doing to your food (and why you should therefore buy this product.)

    If there is a god, he'd be much better off filtering out soulless bastards than filtering out those who refuse to kow-tow to him.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @02:13PM (#21574467)
    No, there is NO statistically significant evidence suggesting a correlation between cell phones and tumors. There has been NO scientific study to suggest that, only idiotic scaremongering, which is what this article is about. Not only is there no empirical evidence, but there is no known basis for it in physics/biology/chemistry since microwaves are NON IONIZING RADIATION. That means that they have NO EFFECT on matter other than to heat it up if you bombard it with enough. It's no different than standing in front of a fireplace and absorbing the longer wavelength infra red spectrum.

  • Re:I have a dream! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by psmears (629712) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @02:50PM (#21575109)

    You do know that ionizing radiation (e.g. alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays from nuclear decay) has absolutely nothing to do with non-ionizing (e.g. radio, microwave, etc) EM radiation.

    Gamma rays [wikipedia.org] are a form of EM radiation... so they are related (though given that they have a much higher energy I agree that it's not that helpful to compare them in this instance).

  • by DrYak (748999) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @10:37PM (#21580805) Homepage

    Your blood stream has a natural lithium content and it plays a role in the balancing of your brain activities.

    No it hasn't. Lithium in the body is normally under the "trace" level. Unless you're on meds.
    In fact Lithium is highly toxic, and the therapeutic margin (doses at which it can be used in meds without causing the toxic effect) is pretty narrow.
    That's why it is forbidden in product that will be consumed by humans.

    Also I have some doubt about 30-to-60T and 60Hz being the correct parameters needed, and I have also serious doubt the 60Hz AC current found in houses generates a strong enough emission to have an impact on lithium. But I'll give you the benefit of doubt.

    When artificially excited, lithium ions cross the blood brain barrier more readily and brain chemistry is altered.

    WTF ? Lithium - as a ion - is charged, whereas the blood-brain barrier is hydrophobic. Moving the ion around won't make it cross the barrier, it would just get stuck against it and refuse to move further (the size orders aren't the same : the lithium would have to cross a width several order of magnitude it's own radius. And path has defavorable properties on its whole length).

    What you need is either :
    - changing the properties of the barrier (for an example see how electric fields are used to transfer transgenes inside bio-engineered cells. It's not used because it makes the genes move (like in a electrophoresis gel) but because it makes the properties of the cell surface change and it becomes transiently permeable to the gene. Similarly ultrasounds are used in needle-less injectors to make the skin permeable to the drug)
    or
    - special transporter (that what may be the case with lithium, because it mimics closely enough Sodium, and may sometimes be using the same channels).

    In fact the "get stuck against the barrier instead of forcibily crossing it" effect is used in some medical NMR image techniques like tractography (imagery of nervous fibres inside the brain). To explain it in a simple way : you make the water vibrate along a specific direction, if there's room for the water to move, you'll get a signal, if the water encounters a barrier, you get none. Thus you can know if the fibres are oriented in the same direction (because water can move along them) or not (because water can't easily cross their borders). Do it for a lot of different directions and you can get a nice map of the overall fibers directions in the whole brain.
    There's no water leakage produced by this method with water forcibly crossing the nervous cell membrane (for that you would need to change their surface properties, or change the amount of water channels on the surface like killing-white-cells do).

    Many anti-depressant drugs use lithium as their active ingredient,

    FYI, your confusing with mania & bipolar drugs, which may be based on lithium.
    Depression drugs are mostly organic compounds that interfere the metabolism of monoamines (mostly serotonin in most recent product like fluoxetine/Prozac, or mostly dopamine and nor-adrenaline in other drugs).

    the logic being that increasing the amount of lithium in the blood raises the number of blood brain barrier crossing instances under normal conditions.

    No. Although, not all the details of the Lithium effect are known in details,
    the logic of lithium is putting in a substance that was never meant to be here in the first place and thus can interfere by several mean :
    - concurrence with sodium : it may replace it in some circumstance, but not be processed in the same way by all ionic pumps. Most of the toxicity also comes because of Lithium replacing Sodium.
    OR MAYBE
    - interfere with the expression of some genes.
    OR EITHER
    - interfere with the function of some enzymes.

    When specifically energized, however, the natural quantity can have a medicinal effect.

    There's almos

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