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I should like to purchase this sexy phone,
August 9, 2000 7:21 AM   Subscribe

I should like to purchase this sexy phone, but am I gonna get a brain tumor if I do?
posted by aladfar (15 comments total)

 
I've often wondered if these new style phones without external aerials were any better or worse with regards to irradiating your head. Perhaps there is better shielding that way.
posted by viama at 7:40 AM on August 9, 2000


Someone in my office has one, and I can confirm is is the cutest phone available. Doubt it has much shielding though - it's very very lightweight.

Now what about passive phoning - should we be worrying about that?
posted by iamcal at 7:55 AM on August 9, 2000


Even if there are radiation dangers from cell phones, are they a significant risk to casual users, or just the schmucks who live with the bloody things attached to their ears?
posted by harmful at 8:40 AM on August 9, 2000


I figure it's like smoking. A social smoker is at less risk than a habitual smoker, etc.

I've been morally opposed to the damn things for a while, but given a career change and a few other factors, it suddenly seems practical to have one.

That, and the little Nokia I've got my eye on is so damn nifty I just can't stop thinking about it . . .
posted by aladfar at 10:17 AM on August 9, 2000


You know those phones with the connected earpieces on a short wire? The ones that you're supposed to use because, by holding the phone in your hand, the radiating part is away from your head? I read a report a few weeks ago that said they actually increase the dose you're getting, because the wire acts like a little antenna and radiates right into your skull.

Of course, whether cell phone radiation is a danger at all is a big question.
posted by aaron at 1:29 PM on August 9, 2000



If someone tosses a bullet at you, it won't harm you. If someone shoots that same bullet out of a gun at you, you'll probably die instantly.

Any thought along the line of "all radiation is the same" discounts the important effect of power level. For almost anything, there's a certain threshold below which it becomes completely harmless, even if it might be harmful at much higher quantities.

Cell phones use microwaves. But the INTENSITY of microwaves that they use are more or less comparable to that tossed bullet.

When the FCC decided on the permissible power levels for cell phones, they consulted every expert they could find to make an estimate of the highest power level for a phone which they could be sure was safe.

They then cut it by a factor of *TEN* and that's the actual specification that the cell phone companies have to live within. There is plenty of margin of safety here; the bullet isn't even being tossed very hard.

All of this happened because of one SOB last fall. He was a researcher engaged in looking into the issue of safety of cell phones, and his grants were coming from the cell phone industry. Well, the grants ran out and they decided not to renew, so he went to ABC 20-20 with all sorts of unsubstantiated "it might be's" and "maybe's" which were scientific horseshit, but which made a mighty spectactular TV infotainment segment. And he made sure that there was a HEAVY emphasis on "more research is needed" (by guess who?).

The upshot is that the cell phone industry saw the writing on the wall: this guy wasn't going to shut up (even though he actually had nothing important to say) until such time as they gave him more money. So they renewed his grant, and he vanished from site. He had the abiliity to scare the crap out of laymen even though he had absolutely no real scientific evidence at all.

All of this publicity about the dangers of cell phones during the last 9 months is the result of a very straightforward and successful case of extortion. There's no more to it than that.

In the mean time, please consult the this page to see how that kind of rhetoric and innuendo can make ANYTHING look dangerous. I assume that everyone here is sufficiently well educated to see through the doubletalk of "DHMO" to know what substance they're really talking about. If not, send me private email and I'll let you in on the joke.

Everything on that page is true, by the way, and "DHMO" actually kills thousands of people every year. On the other hand, there's no evidence that any cell phone has ever killed anyone EXCEPT by distracting them while driving resulting in a fatal car accident. That is the *only* known significant danger of cell phone use.

posted by Steven Den Beste at 2:35 PM on August 9, 2000


aaron, the power required to send a signal over a cord to a headset is minuscule compared to the power required to broadcast a radio signal to a cell tower.

I'm not saying this is a top priority or worth panicking over. But if I were in a job where I had to be glued to a cell phone all day long, I'd worry. You just can't predict an individual's response to exposure; there are too many variables. The goal is to eliminate areas of risk.

Also, young children may be at higher risk, as British studies have recently found.

Steven, for shame. You know as well as anyone that while it's easy to derive statistics on deaths due to reckless driving, it's all but impossible to derive them on the basis of possible reasons for brain tumors, which are rare enough as it is. I'm generally sick and tired of this "there's no proof ..." argument -- that doesn't mean we should let our environments be contaminated with everything from electric grid emissions to hexavalent chlorine willy-nilly, yet that's exactly what the corporations motivated by profit wish to promulgate. Sure, yeah, there's no danger, keep the dividends coming please.

I've sometimes wondered whether it's all a big conspiracy [deadpan]: have as many possible sources of contamination or disease in our environments as possible, that way none of them can ever get fingered specifically.
posted by dhartung at 3:27 PM on August 9, 2000


Nokia's design does kick ass; if you (like me) hop across the Atlantic all the time, you really want the 8890 --smaler than the 82xx series, brushed aluminum shell, and GSM 900/1900 capability (i.e. both Europe and the US). at 4x2x.4 in... wow! if anybody can find a place that sells these things, please share!

posted by costas at 4:04 PM on August 9, 2000


A friend at uni bought the 8210 (GSM version of the 8260). He lost it on the floor.

Some poor schmuck stepped backwards onto it, and killed it.

Moral of the story? Phones that small are not always that great.
posted by cheaily at 5:49 PM on August 9, 2000


The power limit on digital cell phones is 200 milliwatts, and since it's omnidirectional broadcat most of that doesn't go into your head, and because of the wavelength, most of what does go through your head goes right on out the other side.

The amount which is actually *absorbed* is exceedingly tiny.

And if you're interested in reducing risk, why do you drive a car? Cars kill 35,000 people a year in the US; and I repeat that there's no known case of a cell phone killing someone.

By the way, brain tumors take years to develop. If anyone has been using a cell phone for three years, is diagnosed with a brain tumor, and tries to blame the phone, they're automatically wrong because the tumor had to have started developing long before they started using the phone.

Finally, this: this whole scare is a case of "post hoc" fallacy: I used a phone, I got a tumor, so the phone must have caused the tumor. The mere fact of coincidence doesn't prove causation.

But we'll soon find out, because some jackass has sued Motorola for $800 million because of this exact thing. I thnk his lawyer is hoping for an out of court settlement, but I don't think Moto will settle for that. This case will be tossed out in pretrial motions for the simple reason that the jackass (who is a neurologist and should know better) simply doesn't have any evidence to prove causation. All he can prove is simultaneity, and that's not enough. As I say, I think what's really happening is that his lawyer is hoping to get $5 million or $10 million in an out of court settlement, but if so he's misjudged how the cell phone industry feels about this. They'd love to have a court precedent on it.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 6:28 PM on August 9, 2000


Tumor or not, I went and bought the thing after work today. Happiness ensued shortly thereafter.

Perhaps popularity and self confidence are on the way.

That is what these things are for, right???
posted by aladfar at 7:20 PM on August 9, 2000


I've been considering getting a cell phone, but am concerned that I wouldn't use it enough. I've been considering pre-pay phones (at around 20 cents a minute or so), but every time I hear about fancy features I start twitching my mind.

Given that I'd almost never use it (no work-related uses, no friends), I should probably stay clear from the fancy ones. But would even the pre-pay phones be worth it?

Oh, and what's the deal about having to pay when someone calls you? Is that still the case? Do solicitors regularly hound cell phones?
posted by dan_of_brainlog at 7:57 PM on August 9, 2000


>>aaron, the power required to send a signal over a cord to a headset is minuscule compared to the power required to broadcast a radio signal to a cell tower.<<

I wasn't referring to the wattage needed to drive the headset. The study showed that the wire to the headset acted as an antenna, inadvertantly diverting part of the power of the phone's radio signal up the line into your ear. And according to that study, that increased the amount of radiation going straight into your skull by a factor of three, compared to just holding the phone up to your head normally. (I tracked down where the study came from: The Consumer's Association of the UK.)

>>Also, young children may be at higher risk, as British studies have recently found.<<

They didn't really find much of anything, and fully admitted as much. All they're saying is that, given that we know that the brains of kids are still growing and their skulls are still thickening, anything that did have an effect on the brain would have more of an effect on a child's brain than an adult's. And since "we don't know for sure" whether cell phones are of any risk, let's play safe. It's just a "do it for the children!" thing.

>>I'm generally sick and tired of this "there's no proof ..." argument... [degeneration into anti-capitalism rant snipped]<<

"Common sense" has slowed the acceptance of practically every piece of science in the history of mankind. I suggest you check out junkscience.com.
posted by aaron at 9:58 PM on August 9, 2000



I was about to ask what DHMO was, until it clicked.
posted by iamcal at 9:39 AM on August 11, 2000


All of this happened because of one SOB last fall. He was a
researcher engaged in looking into the issue of safety of cell
phones, and his grants were coming from the cell phone industry.
Well, the grants ran out and they decided not to renew, so he went
to ABC 20-20 with all sorts of unsubstantiated "it might be's" and
"maybe's" which were scientific horseshit, but which made a mighty
spectactular TV infotainment segment. And he made sure that
there was a HEAVY emphasis on "more research is needed" (by
guess who?).


Nope. Actually, it was started over 15 years ago, by a ham whom I know personally; guy named Dave Reynard. Bought his wife a cellphone so she wouldn't have to get out of bed during a rough pregnancy. She died before delivery. Brain cancer.

I knew him, and he's a nice guy... but I think he blew it on this one.

Oh, and the earpiece conductivity thing is bullshit. Getting a ham ticket *does* require you to learn enough about RF to be able to say that fairly confidently.

On the no-antenna thing: the hottest spot is right at the tip of the antenna, usually. Inverse Square Law. You do the math.
posted by baylink at 2:23 PM on August 11, 2000


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