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But who wants to do math? Math is hard. Scaring ignorant people is easy.
May 25, 2007 12:04 PM   Subscribe

Wi-fi Routers: Silent blinking death. Via badscience.net, where it was posted in response to what sounds like a truly awful show. Electrosensitivity previously discussed here.
posted by Artw (52 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
See that's exactly why all of my APs are safely contained behind cancer-screening drop ceilings.
posted by Skorgu at 12:08 PM on May 25, 2007


The 'here' thread is still open, you know.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:11 PM on May 25, 2007


See, when I say "people who believe this stuff should be kept in little cages" I only mean Faraday cages to protect them from all this nasty electrosmog.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 12:20 PM on May 25, 2007


A D-link ate my baby!
posted by Muddler at 12:32 PM on May 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Good night, stay safe, and live in constant, irrational fear.

Schwa-tastic!
posted by lekvar at 12:36 PM on May 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Why is the BBC so awful on science?
posted by mr_roboto at 12:43 PM on May 25, 2007


I mean, seriously. It's an otherwise respectable news organization, but their science reporting is pretty much as bad as could be imagined.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:43 PM on May 25, 2007


Schwa-tastic!
posted by davejay at 12:48 PM on May 25, 2007


mr_roboto: They used to be so very, very good, with Horizon being one of the best science programs there was - you've probably seen some episodes of Horizon redubbed and recut as episodes of Nova. But then at some point someone got the idea that they should be more "accesible" and "relevant", and they turned into the worst kind of pop-science nonsense. It really is quite sad.
posted by Artw at 12:55 PM on May 25, 2007


I put in an official complaint about the Panorama programme. It's the first I've ever made and I sincerely hope it's the last. Being "Angry from Manchester" isn't my cup of tea.

But it was a crap programme, made along tabloid lines and designed to be alarmist. Lots of pictures of pulsating wifi base stations and the scratchy sounds of EM meters. Liberal use of the word "radiation", despite the fact it's being used out of context (to most people, radiation implies nuclear).

Lots of scientists appeared who agreed with the wifi killer message, while the programme ignored the majority of scientists who will happily point out that wifi is perfectly safe (such as the people who created the 802.11 standard, who weren't interviewed, or the hundreds of companies who produce 802.11 hardware, who weren't interviewed).

The program makers decided on an agenda and then found people who supported it. That's pretty damn low. There might be a germ of good intention in the programme, that we should investigate more, but the overwhelming evidence (and common-f***ing-sense) tells us that wifi is safe. Somehow that message was lost.

What hurts most, though, is that Panorama--long the BBC's best current affairs show--is being turned over to trashy, alarmist, paranoia-style programme making. Dumbing down? They've heard of it.
posted by humblepigeon at 12:56 PM on May 25, 2007


It's not just this, though I was disgusted by this too. They had a program on a couple of weeks ago that was basically a complete handjob to the police CCTV camera units, and did nothing but show footage and interviews of police catching criminals thanks to CCTV. No balance or opposing views regarding privacy concerns, could the money be better spent etc. Completely one-sided.

Are we finally seeing the end of the BBC, and it's conversion into just another trash lowest-common-denominator propaganda channel? I hope not, but I'm growing less hopeful every day.
posted by ArkhanJG at 1:08 PM on May 25, 2007


humblepigeon - did you get the form response?
posted by Artw at 1:10 PM on May 25, 2007


I can just see the interviewer going through candidates to appear on the show:

interviewer: so, is wifi dangerous?
scientist: what would make you think it is?
interviewer: well, it's radiation.
scientist: ... and?
interviewer: I think we're done here.
posted by shmegegge at 1:17 PM on May 25, 2007


So only the linksys are evil, I think I'll have no problem with my netgear.

they have only one radiation gun after all.
posted by darkripper at 1:18 PM on May 25, 2007


Schwa- tastic!
posted by humannaire at 1:24 PM on May 25, 2007


Why is the BBC so awful on science?

Let me rework that for you:

Why is the BBC science section so damned good at getting piles of attention and traffic, constantly and without exception?
posted by cortex at 1:26 PM on May 25, 2007


I constantly have to remind myself that this is the same country that gave us Planet Earth and Life in The Undergrowth. There's good stuff out there, british science nerds!
posted by shmegegge at 1:34 PM on May 25, 2007


interviewer: so, is wifi dangerous?
scientist: what would make you think it is?
interviewer: well, it's radiation.
scientist: ... and?
interviewer: I think we're done here.


The problem with the BBC's science coverage is English. They confuse radiation the noun with radiation the verb.
posted by three blind mice at 1:40 PM on May 25, 2007


Reminds me of a (otherwise quite smart) friend who wouldn't eat microwaved food, because it had been "irradiated".
posted by signal at 1:46 PM on May 25, 2007


there's a radiation the verb? I'm trying, as I type this, to think of a sentence with radiation as a verb in it, and I'm coming up blank.

Let's go radiation that motherfucker?
Can you hand me that wet nap? I need to radiation my hand.
I totally radiationed all over my shoes last night.
posted by shmegegge at 1:47 PM on May 25, 2007


Very good
posted by ob at 1:51 PM on May 25, 2007


shmegegge - Earth Story and Blue Planet are other good ones in that vein. I think they still do good nature shows - though as someone pointed out (possibly here) if you go back and compare Planet Earth with, say, Life On Earth things have been considerable dumbed down since then. Nice camerawork though.
posted by Artw at 1:52 PM on May 25, 2007


In related news, Google patents Wi-Fi.
posted by acro at 2:11 PM on May 25, 2007


Where do I get one of those radiation guns? Cause when I go camping I think that would be an awesome way to cook my food, like, INSTANTLY.
posted by Salmonberry at 2:15 PM on May 25, 2007


They should turn off the lights and unplug any electrical equipment too, you know, just to be safe. Yet another example of worrying about the wrong thing.
posted by entropy at 2:57 PM on May 25, 2007


Didn't we just see a post about personal faraday cages to protect us from this sort of thing?
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:11 PM on May 25, 2007


I had totally forgotten about Bill Barker and his Schwa stuff. I think I still have a couple of his books floating around...
posted by quin at 3:24 PM on May 25, 2007


"I had totally forgotten about..."

You must have a wifi connection.
posted by 517 at 4:05 PM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


There is a difference between ionizing and non ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation occurs at a higher frequency and exists in our world; we are constantly bombarded by radiation. Ionizing radiation also has a nasty habit of causing DNA lesions. These lesions eventually impair the body’s ability to replicate DNA properly and can lead to things like cancer which is in essence a cell that is stuck in adolescence and does not die or cycle hence it is an immortal cell that will eventually take over it’s host with replication. This breakdown in replication is also responsible for ageing.
Now lower frequency radiation like cell phones and wifi are categorized as non ionizing. This means they do not or should not cause DNA lesions but they do have a heating effect. You can hard boil an egg by placing it between two cell phones that are transmitting. It takes a while but it can be done. Oh and if you don’t believe the heating effect take your wifi sniffer and put it in front of your microwave when it is on. Yes the microwave has a substantially higher power and the screen on the front window blocks most of the signal but enough gets out registering on a sniffer.
As one little old lady in Wellfleet, MA said late one night after we had been through 18 months of hearing about a site that we wanted to place there and after a two hour presentation by a former chairman of the FCC, “Yes, she said I understand that it is low power and hardly anything at all, but what if it is the last shake of salt the ruins the soup.

Great analogy, I thought. I think fear and the perception of danger that causes related stress has a more dangerous effect on health than the actual emissions. I have sensitivity to various forms of radiation particularly electric lines that oscillate around 80Hz which is close to the body’s resonate frequency. I have worked around this stuff my whole life. I am an RF Engineer, but not a Nuclear Physicist I have designed more that 1000 wireless sites, PCS, Microwave, and Satellite links etc. I think people who use cell phones too much get cancer because they live stressful lives. One last thing I hate cell towers they are ugly as hell.
posted by MapGuy at 7:17 PM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Non-ionizing radiation: 60 HZ power, radio, microwaves, infrared, visible light, long wave UV.

Ionizing radiation: short wave UV, X-rays, gamma rays, particles (alpha, beta, neutrons, etc).

On preview: MapGuy, wtf?
posted by ryanrs at 7:30 PM on May 25, 2007


MapGuy wrote: As one little old lady in Wellfleet, MA said [...] "Yes, I understand that it is low power and hardly anything at all, but what if it is the last shake of salt the ruins the soup?" Great analogy, I thought.

The effects of ionizing radiation are fundamentally different from the effects of non-ionizing radiation. You just said so yourself. Do you believe heat is cumulative or something? WTF?


MapGuy: I am an RF Engineer

Huh.
posted by ryanrs at 7:45 PM on May 25, 2007


Actually, you can't boil an egg using two cell phones. That was a hoax originally promulgated by Pravda.

A pity really, I've always wanted a cell-phone-sized death ray / pocket microwave.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:06 PM on May 25, 2007


Not with a puny American cell phone, of course. But an authentic Russian cell phone will cook an egg just fine. Just open up the chassis and place the egg next to one of the tubes.
posted by ryanrs at 9:02 PM on May 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


You can hard boil an egg by placing it between two cell phones that are transmitting. It takes a while but it can be done.

how did you get so stupid
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:15 PM on May 25, 2007


That's a bit harsh, isn't it?

I think he's been reading alarmist/voodoo science stuff, and I don't agree with him at all, but that's no reason to insult him.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:47 PM on May 25, 2007


What about this:
I have worked around this stuff my whole life. I am an RF Engineer [...] I have designed more that 1000 wireless sites, PCS, Microwave, and Satellite links etc. —MapGuy
Can we insult him for that?
posted by ryanrs at 10:00 PM on May 25, 2007


I think he's been reading alarmist/voodoo science stuff, and I don't agree with him at all, but that's no reason to insult him.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:47 PM on May 25


i could take twenty minutes and do the math required to prove that heating an egg to 100ºC with two xW power sources with y% efficiency in a 22ºC room is impossible but I'll let our friend the "engineer" try to support his extraordinary (i.e., retarded) claim with either mathematical models or an actual demonstration.

So go on.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:17 PM on May 25, 2007


Just to throw a little different perspective into this one sided thread and in contrast to my previous statement...

I never gave any thought to the effects of RF radiation on my health until many years ago when I worked briefly at a factory with an RF welder. It wasn't one of those nice batch ones when you put stuff on a conveyer belt and the welding happens in a metal shielded chamber, it was a single shot deal where the welding occurs just under one arm's length away from your chest. The only shielding on it was a pair of plexiglass doors that prevented you from activating it while your hands were in it. I have no idea how much energy was flowing through it, and google doesn't readily reveal anything, but the generators/converters/capacitors near the machine had some nice little gauges on them that had kilowatts as units.

The place I worked at cycled jobs so I ended up spending about 4 hours each day on the welder. After the second week or so I began to wonder just how much energy was this thing kicking out, at what frequency, and for how long?

Anyway, right now I've got a wifi router about 3 feet away from me, a cell phone in my pocket, a wifi card in my laptop, and a cell tower about a block away but damn if I didn't breath a sigh of relief the last time I had to use that RF welder.
posted by 517 at 11:53 PM on May 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Are we finally seeing the end of the BBC, and it's conversion into just another trash lowest-common-denominator propaganda channel? I hope not, but I'm growing less hopeful every day.

Strange, but I always thought the BBC would be brought down by external forces. I never figured it would be brought down from the inside by simple lack of quality.

The BBC is built on the scaffolding of high quality programming, especially when it comes to current affairs. What's happening is that this scaffolding is being eroded, and eventually the entire corporation will fall because it will be so easy to push it over from outside. The popular argument for dissolving the BBC will become a lot more pertinent when its output is shown to be no better than that of ITV, or Five, or even Sky. Why should it receive over £100 from every household in that case?

I reckon in 10 years we'll only have commercial broadcasters in the UK. I barely watch TV any longer but I can't help feeling this is a Very Bad Thing.
posted by humblepigeon at 1:41 AM on May 26, 2007


Strange, but I always thought the BBC would be brought down by external forces. I never figured it would be brought down from the inside by simple lack of quality.

What you forget is how godawful the commercial broadcasters are in comparison. Anyway, whatever the risks of wi-fi, the most dangerous emission there was two minutes of Eastenders.
posted by liquidindian at 2:11 AM on May 26, 2007


Here in Barcelona they're getting a lot of cases of semicircular lipoatrophy, a misterious disease that gets you a band without fat on your thighs. They're blaming it on EM fields, as it only affects people who work with computers. It occurs mainly in new office buildings like Torre Agbar and the recently finished Gas Natural building. It seems really absurd, but they're taking it seriously, they even closed the Gas Natural building for a week. Anyone heard something about it?
posted by radiobishop at 2:17 AM on May 26, 2007


517 wrote:
Just to throw a little different perspective [...]
I never gave any thought [...]
I have no idea how much energy [...]
I began to wonder [...]

but damn if I didn't breath a sigh of relief the last time I had to use that RF welder.
But that's the perspective of ignorance and fear. It's not much different than superstition.

(BTW, RF welders typically operate at frequencies less than 30 MHz. Heating effects are the primary hazard.)
posted by ryanrs at 4:11 AM on May 26, 2007


Seems like every time I write something quickly or in shorthand or assume the audience is not littered with hyena dip shits I get assaulted. Yes there is a substantial difference between ionizing and non ionizing radiation
The heating effect is not necessarily cumulative. But consider that your microwave operates at the same frequency as a wifi router abet at a lower power. It is about calories. You kids remember what a calorie is? Hang on I will ask my second grader. “The energy that it takes to heat one cubic centimeter of water (very clean water) one degree Celsius,” thanks Jack. Given that non ionizing radiation causes no proton shifts in field studies of hydrogen bridges of biopolymers you should be all squared away, and given the relatively low power of these radiation sources and distance your fat heads are from them the calorie accumulation (heating effect) should not be an issue. “Should be” and "there is no conclusive proof” is not an absolute. However the regulation for radiation surrounding emissions and exposures are substantially greater than anything known to cause harm (more or less).
But feel free to go on a roof top (by the way the government doesn’t recommend this) and stand two feet in front of a PCS antenna. When you have that metallic taste in your mouth it is the mercury in your fillings separating from the rest of the metal. Yummmm. Go read NCRP 67 and 86, then come back and we will have an adult discussion. WTF indeed. Till then I am busy working on my second graders fusion reactor in the basement.
posted by MapGuy at 7:03 AM on May 26, 2007


humblepigeon: "The popular argument for dissolving the BBC will become a lot more pertinent when its output is shown to be no better than that of ITV, or Five, or even Sky. "

It's a tricky one for the BBC because in trying to prove their relevance, they're trying to meet the perceived need for accessible, short-attentionspan presentation of the important issues. But not only are they (IMO) underestimating at least a large portion of the UK and their appetite for substantial, straightforward factual programming - they don't even have a handle on how to make more entertaining, shallow 'newstainment' in the same way that the other channels do.
posted by Drexen at 8:06 AM on May 26, 2007


Seems like every time I write something quickly or in shorthand or assume the audience is not littered with hyena dip shits I get assaulted.
Well, you stated that you're an RF Engineer, and then repeated claims that 2 cell phones can boil an egg. It sort of critically weakened everything else you had to say.

Responding to criticism and skepticism about purported cell phone hazards by saying "If you don't believe me, go stand in front of a PCS antenna" and pointing us at non-free NCRP reports 67 and 86 doesn't help, mind.

If you're an authority on this subject you should be able to explain how much heating goes on in a human brain due to cell phone use without raising your voice, rather than getting pissy when we call you out after a highly misleading statement. You should be able to do a back of the envelope calculation of this stuff in your sleep without resorting to calling us morons who don't know the difference between radio and ionizing radiation. If you respond by getting angry and lapsing into jargon (like your previous response) without substantiating your main point "cell phones = the danger" you're going to continue to support your critics here.
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:30 AM on May 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


"Heating effects are the primary hazard."

Really? With it being used to fuse two pieces of material, I never would have guessed.
posted by 517 at 10:32 AM on May 26, 2007


mapguy you still haven't supported your argument that two cell phones can boil an egg (incidentally i wound up doing the math last night and the only way this is possible is a if you have a couple hours to wait and b the energy transfer from phone to air to egg is 100% and c the egg radiates no heat to the environment so yes it is impossible) ergo you are still 100% full of shit and no one should listen to a word you have to say

you can pretend your devry RF classes give you credibility but when you are unable to support your claims in any way then who cares
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:27 PM on May 26, 2007


MetaFilter: Assume the audience is not littered with hyena dip shits
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:49 PM on May 26, 2007


Even cell phones don't produce significant tissue heating. Cell phone or wifi health hazards would have to be due to some as-yet-unknown mechanism other than heating. There's been a fair amount of research on this, and afaik it hasn't turned anything up. Is it possible that there's some undiscovered harm? Of course. Is it likely? No.
posted by hattifattener at 5:58 PM on May 26, 2007


Jesus mapguy, that was the worst effort at trying to jargonfuck your way out of an argument I have ever seen.
posted by Thoth at 5:40 AM on May 27, 2007


When you have that metallic taste in your mouth it is the mercury in your fillings separating from the rest of the metal.

What?!
posted by odinsdream at 1:17 PM on May 27, 2007


Welcome to the world of electromagnetic warfare /UPLOADED by Free Press International
posted by acro at 6:37 PM on May 27, 2007


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