Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
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.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

BBC Rules That Wi-Fi Radiation Findings Were Wrong

Comments Filter:
  • So this article in tandem with this one [slashdot.org], has given me hope. For I have a dream that one day all of our children will be able to sit down at the radioactive table of brotherhood. They will be able to enjoy the pleasures of uranium chip flavored ice cream and sleep on beds made of the finest plutonium. I welcome the day when all of our children will have the opportunity to be exposed to the now safer than ever blessing of radiation. I have a dream that one day the alarmist fear mongering about radiation poiso [wikipedia.org]
    • by nekozid (1100169) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @01:43PM (#21574009)
      A bed made from plutonium would be awesome infact.
      Nice warm bed to get into every night? Yes please!
    • Re:I have a dream! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Hatta (162192) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @02:12PM (#21574449) Journal
      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. Confusing the two, even in jest, doesn't help the situation.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by psmears (629712)

        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 mpe (36238)
          Gamma rays 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).

          They share properties with other forms of EM radiation. This is highly relevent if you want to use gamma rays to kill a cancer with minimal harm to surrounding tissues.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by ATMD (986401)
        Actually, any electromagnetic radiation has the potential to be ionising, depending on the material it hits.

        This is due to the photoelectric effect [wikipedia.org] which, simply put, means that if an incoming photon has an energy higher than a specific value, (called the material's work function [wikipedia.org]), it will give an electron in that material enough energy to break free and disappear off elsewhere. The material then gains a small positive charge - in other words, it becomes ionised.

        Of course EM radiation in the sort of bands
      • by ballpoint (192660)
        Guess that's like carbon dioxine [google.com] scaremongering.
    • by audubon (577473) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @02:29PM (#21574739)
      Glory be to the Bomb, and to the Holy Fallout. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be. World without end. Amen. May the Blessings of the Bomb Almighty, and the Fellowship of the Holy Fallout, descend upon us all. This day and forever more. Amen!
  • by da3dAlus (20553) <dustin.grauNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @01:18PM (#21573601) Homepage Journal
    The programme included only one contributor (Professor Repacholi) who disagreed with Sir William

    Peter Griffin: We'll move to England, huh? Worst they got there is, you know, drive-by... arguments...
    [Meanwhile, in England]
    Englishman: I say, Jeremy, isn't that Reginald B. Stifworth, the young upstart chap who's been touting the merits of a united European commonwealth?
    Jeremy: Why yes, I daresay it is.
    Englishman: Oh, let's get him.
    [They drive up]
    Englishman: Oh Reginald... I disagree.
    [drives off]
  • 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.

    • by JesterXXV (680142)

      one-half furlong for our US friends
      Could you please convert that to kilobushels per microacre for those of us in the Midwestern U.S.?
    • I'll see your facts and figures and raise you an anecdote.

      Many moons ago, in an old programming job, I was chatting with the boss. I'd been working there three weeks, and this was the first time I'd ever seen him; the place was a small tech support company. Anyway, he talked for a while and then eventually pointed to a sizable scar just above his right temple and said "You're probably wondering what this is".

      Turns out he was six weeks out of a brain surgery operation to remove a tumour the size of a golf ba
      • by Jarjarthejedi (996957) <christianpinch AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @02:06PM (#21574381) Journal
        I see your anecdote and raise you another anecdote. My family and I have been huge tech users for a while now, we've all had cell phones for 10 years, our landline phones use the 2.4 GHz spectrum to tranmit to each other wirelessly, and we have a powerful G router, and have had a wireless router for 5+ years now. None of us have ever been diagnosed with any cancer, nor any ailments worse than some bone issues due to running. In fact, the only person in my family who has even been affected by cancer was a bit of an oldtimer, having neither a cellphone nor a wireless router and living far from any sort of tower (didn't get any bars at his house).

        So that's 5 anecdotes to your one, take it as you will. Brain tumors have been around for far longer than wireless transmissions, as has almost all types of cancer. Perhaps there is a statistical significance, but anecdotes can't prove that.
        • by Vancorps (746090)
          You are correct however older analog cell phones did put out a lot more radiation than modern cell phones. Enough to cause cancer even in the earliest models. I'll agree everything we use now is perfectly harmless though.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Just remember, kids: "The plural of anecdote is not data"
      • Your boss, where was his mobile the majority of the time? clipped to his belt? If so, why didn't he get a tumor there?
    • by GooberToo (74388)
      A cell phone that is far from the nearest tower can transmit up to one watt.

      Hmmm. I remember reading, while non-typical, max output from a cell phone (model dependent, more so on select GSM phones) can be up to 3 watts. Typical usage is far less than one watt.

    • Thanks for the post - good summary. For what it's worth, you're not the only one sick of nutjobs.

      One could add that all of the radiation you mention is non-ionising, so not to be confused with nastier stuff.
      The most harm non-ionising radiation has been proven to do, is cook seagulls in front of high-power radar.

      Also, as you point out, the most intense signal you are likely to receive is from holding a cell phone close to your ear.
      I suggest a headset, or a tinfoil hat...
      • by Detritus (11846)
        Very high exposure levels, like being in the wrong place near a high-power radar, can produce cataracts.
    • So if you are 100 meters (300a feet, one-half furlong for our US friends) from a 1-kW cell tower...

      That should be "...1-kW (1.34 horsepower for our US friends) cell tower..."

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by grogling (1198415)
      "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." ...

      Um, not anywhere on planet earth. Typical output power from the final amplifier stage of an 800MHz cell amplifier is nowhere above 25-30w at the very most. 1900MHz CDMA cells average between 4w and 15w max output at those frequencies. If you can provide data on any cell tower with final amplifier output in even t
      • by mpe (36238)
        Um, not anywhere on planet earth. Typical output power from the final amplifier stage of an 800MHz cell amplifier is nowhere above 25-30w at the very most. 1900MHz CDMA cells average between 4w and 15w max output at those frequencies. If you can provide data on any cell tower with final amplifier output in even the 100W range let-alone 1000W, I'd love to see it. ...

        Maybe someone got confused between the power consumption and the level of RF power emitted. (Or between cell sites and broadcast stations, whi
  • dumbed down (Score:2, Insightful)

    by owlnation (858981)
    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 corporta
  • 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.

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      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?)

      Well, as the slashdot sig goes, There are 10 types of mathematician - those that understand binary and those that don't.

      Meanwhile, you're not really suggesting that the media can't make any sort of judgement distinguish between genuine areas of scientific disagreement and fringe quackery, are you? Gosh, that's almost like suggesting

    • by Sockatume (732728)
      The headcount was wrong. It should've had a few hundred to a thousand scientists elaborating on the theme of "this is bullshit" for every quack who appeared onscreen saying "please buy my expensive anti-EMF hat, from myself, a douchebag who managed to get the idiots at Panorama to give me free advertising".
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blind biker (1066130)
      This reminds me of when a reporter of BBC World covered a story about copy-protected "CD"s. On one side there was a Big Label (Universal I think) rep that lied through his teeth saying that the silvery disk is a CD, while on the other side there was a techy guy who explained how these disks don't adhere to the CD standards and have (most of) the loss-correcction rendundant bits removed.

      And the BBC journalist, in the conclusion remarks said "as always, the truth is somewhre in between". WTF? Truth is usuall
  • by QX-Mat (460729) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @01:38PM (#21573911)
    I've noticed a slow decline in panorama's technological and socio-political programs (pretty much everything). Dispatches, and that program on unreported news on More4 (the name of which escapes me) are farbetter and less "pimped". It's not just mistakes I have a problem with, it's the tabloid attitude the show's taken to; frighteningly reminiscent of Fox News.

    I love my BBC but when I have to step back and become objective, not because of the topic, but because of the way information is inappropriately portrayed, I'm a little sad inside.

    Matt
    • Absolutely - what those unfamiliar with the programme should know is that recently it moved from a graveyard Sunday slot (where it featured thoughtful and straightforward films) to a prime-time Monday evening slot against one of the big soaps on ITV. This was heralded as a great victory for serious current affairs but it turns the show has turned into, from what I can gather via Daily Show skits, an American-style tabloid, sensationalist programme with pop-video production values.
  • by Curmudgeonlyoldbloke (850482) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @01:40PM (#21573947)
    According to the BBC complaints ruling "two viewers complained". Assuming that one of them was Prof. Repacholi, I must be the other. But then again, I'm probably Spartacus as well.

    Since this report was published Panorama was broadcast as usual on Monday night. There was no trailing "we got the wifi program badly wrong" apology, so I've complained again about that - we'll see what happens.

    It's worth mentioning that the BBC is going through a sustained period of navel-gazing at the moment, ever since the Hutton Report. Among the items for consideration have been such earth-shattering topics such as the name of the Blue Peter cat http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/organgrinder/2007/09/it_fair_knocks_your_socks.html [guardian.co.uk] and whether two pieces of film about an unelected German woman had been reversed between the programme and the trail http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7079070.stm [bbc.co.uk]. In among this, ensuring basic scientific accuracy in a flagship current-affairs program clearly isn't very important.
  • They where trying to build a chemical factory and some people where scared of it.
    Both the MP and his civil servent had no idea if it was safe of not because they didn't know any science.
    "Minister I have a classical eduction. I don't know any science."
  • Scaremongering? - You mean researchers are capable of this?

    Lemme guess - there was an "overwhelming consensus" that WIFI was gonna cook all of our children's brains

    That never happens - right?

    Scientist and researchers never exaggerate or manipulate results in order to further a hidden agenda - right?

    I'm so disillusioned right now ....
    • by spun (1352)
      Idiot. What makes you think scientists were behind this? Reporters were behind this. They have monetary reasons for scaremongering. What hidden agendas can you even think up that might prompt scientists to falsify results?

      One sure sign of a crackpot is that he takes every chance he can get to insult and demean the scientific establishment. That shit won't fly here. It does not make you seem smart or wise in anyone's eyes. It just points out to all the smart folks here that you are an anti-intellectual dolt.
    • Lemme guess - there was an "overwhelming consensus" that WIFI was gonna cook all of our children's brains

      Actually, no. Quite the contrary; there's about a half-dozen cranks who say that, yet who get a quite astonishing amount of media attention for their pains. Analogies to other fields of research are left to the reader.

    • by geekoid (135745)
      There is a difference between a few 'scientists' making claims and scientific consensus.

      Please tell am of ANY scientific consensus that with was wrong, or didn't change in the wake of scientific evidence to the contrary.

      "Scientist and researchers never exaggerate or manipulate results in order to further a hidden agenda - right?"
      Some do, but guess what? if it is science it can be duplicated, results verified, falsifiability can be confirmed.

      "
      I'm so disillusioned right now ...."

      funny statement, considering g
  • "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.

    • by PitaBred (632671)

      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.

      It didn't even necessarily kill all those people [slashdot.org]. Radiation was just set up as a boogeyman because it's invisible and really easy to be scared of. I'm not saying it's not dangerous, I'm saying that policy makers and other people that communicate to the public don't have the requisite experience or knowledge to adequately judge it.

      • by mpe (36238)
        Radiation was just set up as a boogeyman because it's invisible and really easy to be scared of.

        A sizable part of the output of an incandescent lamp is both "radiation" and invisible too. Which was the original poster's point. That many people don't understand that the term "radiation" applies to a lot of things...
    • You are the wind beneath my wings.
    • Your entire nervous system is electrochemical in nature and thus affected by the EM energy spectrum even at low power levels.

      A simple example. . .

      60 htz wall socket power in conjunction with the Earth's magnetic field resonates with the Lithium ion, exciting it and causing it to move on a vector. This is based on the principle of cyclotronic resonance. Your blood stream has a natural lithium content and it plays a role in the balancing of your brain activities. When artificially excited, lithium ions cro
      • by styrotech (136124)
        Phew - I'm so glad I live in a country with 50Hz power! I sure dodged that cyclotronic resonance bullet.
        • Phew - I'm so glad I live in a country with 50Hz power! I sure dodged that cyclotronic resonance bullet.

          Yeah. I've always found that curious. I wonder if there's any connection to the fact that most of Europe, with the exception of England, isn't also leading the charge into disaster these days. Also, the magnetic properties of the Earth fluctuate somewhat.

          The point I was trying to make was to illustrate how mechanisms above and beyond ionizing EM radiation are something to be aware of. Many people seem
      • 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

        • No it hasn't. Lithium in the body is normally under the "trace" level. Unless you're on meds.

          A trace quantity was the level being discussed. --Here's a the relevant excerpt from the referenced study [geocities.com] taken from this book. [amazon.com]

          But please do me a favor: stop trusting random snake-oil vending charlatan's crackpot theories just because they use nice buzzwords like "natural" and "energize" and try to sell you a "natural magnetic therapy cyclotonic machine".

          Ouch. --Do me a favor please and don't make such bold assum
    • Most of the immediate fatalitites in Hiroshima were caused by the intial blast and its direct effects, (building collapse, fire..)

      From Wikipedia, (so must be true, eh?)

      "directly killing an estimated 70,000 people. By the end of the year, injury and radiation brought total casualties to 90,000-140,000".

      Although, also note:

      "Since then, thousands more have died from injuries or illness attributed to exposure to radiation released by the bombs."

      So yes, radiation from a nucler bomb is a bad thing, but in the rea
  • It remains that three times negligible remains negligible.

    "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" applies to all claims, including those that handily advance socialist causes.

  • I'm shocked. Just shocked. No one saw this at the time [wellingtongrey.net].
  • If you talk to someone about global warming, intelligent design, horrible management practices, whatever, you'll find that someone with credentials has written articles, books, etc., that pass the most horrific crud as fact. When journalists site this crud, their own credibility eventually suffers, but there will be a faithful following notwithstanding. Unfortunately, figuring out what is good and what is bad requires passing the Turing Test, which is hard work. You can't just go with the majority opinio
  • Maybe they're sitting near a mobile phone mast?

    Oh, wait ..

Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Mother Nature cannot be fooled. -- R.P. Feynman

Working...