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Wireless Networking Hardware Science

BBC Rules That Wi-Fi Radiation Findings Were Wrong 210

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 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.

  • by Bozzio ( 183974 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @01:44PM (#21574021)
    The target page tried to infect me with a virus.

    Don't follow parent's links.
  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @02:00PM (#21574285) Journal
    Microwave ovens run at a frequency of 2450MHz (2.45GHz) and interact quite well with water, of which the majority of the human body is composed. The lowest power microwave I have seen, however, is 600W, which is a good two orders of magnitude more than the average WiFi adaptor. The energy from a microwave is also much more focussed[1] than a WiFi antenna, which radiates in all directions unless it's being used for point-to-point fixed-topology communication.

    [1] For a good demo of this, put a lump of refrigerated butter in the microwave for 30 seconds without the plate spinning. When you take it out, it will be melted (and possibly under quite high pressure) in the middle, but still cold on the outside. Note that this will only work with microwaves where the food is rotated, not those where the magnetron moves.

  • Re:Programme? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 ) <> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @02:03PM (#21574333) Homepage
    No it's a programme.

    You get a program on a computer, a programme on TV.. english is funny like that.
  • 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.
  • by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <slashdot AT pitabred DOT dyndns DOT org> on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @02:53PM (#21575147) Homepage
    Says you! I can see fire, I can't see cell phone waves. They must be dangerous, they work like magic!

    I think that's a lot of the problem... people haven't figured out that cell phones and wireless transmissions AREN'T magic. Hell, I didn't even get into wave physics until my second year in college, and that was at an engineering school... what chance does a liberal arts major or high-school dropout have of understanding it?
  • by Stevecrox ( 962208 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @03:01PM (#21575303) Journal
    There are around 49 freely availiable digital channels and 5 analog channels in the uk, all of which can be seen if you buy a £20 digibox (or freeview box whatever itsa called) if you get sky theres probably somewhere in the region 200-300 channels. The analog channels are BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. ITV pretty much has GMTV news a painfully dumbed down breakfast news with bad reporting, Pop Idol (or whatever), trisha, and correnation street a soap. Channel 4 tends to have more varied programming but concentrates on stuff like Big Brother (tv reality shows) and american shows (friends, scrubs etc...) The freeview channels don't tend to have much to offer although Dave has recently burst onto the seen and seems to be popular with blokes. We have a Sci-Fi channel which sucks, Sky One which gets all the american tv series first and has done some interesting stuff (brainics for instance) along with UK living, discovery, etc...

    The problem is the BBC used to offer alot of quality shows and things like Panorama and Eqinox (channel 4) used to be great for those intereting in technical things. Unfortunatly the BBC seems to be slowly deciding to cater to the lowest common denominator, so shows like Panarama have turned into complete rubbish and it seems every new BBC documentary has to repeat itself every ten minutes with flashy graphics. Its not that people want this. Heck recently the BBC editors blog asked what things he should think about when he went off to meet other TV producers at some conference. The 600/700 replies all asked for the BBC to go back to producing challenging and inteligent shows and to get rid of stupid reality tv shows.

    The BBC isn't the only channel we get in the UK but it tends to be the best with the most varied tv and inteligent, when you've got the BBC producing the Planet Earth documentary compared to Channel 4's chantelle's throwing a tantrum in the recent big brother, or some old woman killing someone in corrie on ITV what do you think is going to get reported.

    BTW the TV channels over here keep being hit by various scandals (From the Blue Peter people choosing anouther rabbits name and not the one people voted for, to various phone in competitions being rigged.)
  • by Curmudgeonlyoldbloke ( 850482 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @03:08PM (#21575411)
    Taking non-satellite, non-cable first, the basic list's here: []

    The first five of those are available analogue (which is currently being phased out); everything is available on a series of digital multiplexes which may or may not be available depending on where you live. If you follow the website links from the Digitalspy page you should be able to get to "who owns what", but in brief the BBC is publicly owned and licence-fee supported, ITV is a standalone company, ad-supported, Channel 4 is publicly owned, ad-supported and Five is owned by RTL.

    The largest satellite operator is Sky TV: []
    (mostly owned by News Corp)

    The largest cable operator is Virgin Media []
    (standalone company)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @03:32PM (#21575877)
    Just remember, kids: "The plural of anecdote is not data"
  • by Ironsides ( 739422 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @03:35PM (#21575917) Homepage Journal
    I'm an American, here's what I know about it. So, I may be a bit wrong for a few things.

    When TV got started in the UK, there was the BBC and only the BBC and it was good. This is also the source of the TV tax in the UK. Where as in the US, we had CBS, NBC and ABC. PBS in the US was not established until 1969. In the UK, it was THE station at the beginning. Another difference, the BBC gets most (all?) of it's funding from the TV tax. The PBS stations get over 85% of it's funding from donations. There are other networks now, but the BBC is equivalent to combining ABC/NBC/CBS all into one.

    Any other questions?
  • Re:I have a dream! (Score:2, Informative)

    by ATMD ( 986401 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @05:34PM (#21577835) Journal
    Actually, any electromagnetic radiation has the potential to be ionising, depending on the material it hits.

    This is due to the photoelectric effect [] which, simply put, means that if an incoming photon has an energy higher than a specific value, (called the material's work function []), 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 that WiFi uses has nowhere near enough energy to do that to most materials. So yes, it's nothing to worry about and yes, I guess I'm just being pedantic. Oh well :)
  • by Mr_Perl ( 142164 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @06:08PM (#21578323) Homepage

    So higher frequencies are actually _less_ dangerous.
    Quite wrong!

    As a ham radio operator I have to point out that RF radiation exposure limits are a function of frequency and time, and the higher the frequency you deal with the less time you should be exposed to it!

    Some helpful stuff on that for the concerned: [] []
  • by grogling ( 1198415 ) on Tuesday December 04, 2007 @08:12PM (#21579645)
    "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 the 100W range let-alone 1000W, I'd love to see it. ...

    "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." ...

    There haven't been any 1w cell phones manufactured in the US for many years. 600mW and lower has been the standard for quite some time.

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."