The Lancet’s nonsense on the Manifesto for Planetary Health

Dear God these people are stupid:

It’s running out of some of the things that we depend on, like tantalum in mobile phones or iridium in GPS devices and things like that.

No, really, the man knows not whereof he speaks. Iridium is a brand name for GPS systems, yes it is. But this is because the original design was to have 77 satellites and iridium, the metal, is element 77. There’s no actual iridium, the metal, used in Iridium, the GPS system.

We’re getting into real loons on the loose territory here if people are building their desired world governance systems out of such misunderstandings of reality.

12 comments on “The Lancet’s nonsense on the Manifesto for Planetary Health

  1. Iridium is the brand name for a fleet of communications satellites providing cellphone service to remote parts of the world not served by land-based radio.

    Nothing to do with GPS, although it might be conceivable that Iridium, the metal, is used in GPS receivers. I don’t know for sure.

  2. You shouldn’t refer to Iridium as a “cellphone” service either, that’s precisely what it is not. The “satphone” connects direct to the satellite, there are no ground based connections involved (the “cells”).

  3. Most doctors are thick as fuck when it comes to science outside their fairly narrow specialisation (which is, to be honest, not much past A-level biology and O-level chemistry).

    As for aerospace uses, iridium has a few applications but of course nothing to do specifically with satphones. Wiki says the total used in 2010 was 10.4 tonnes, way up from its usual level. That’s a cube about 77cm on a side, which would fit in the back of of a Transit van, although it would then immediately go through the floor. Yet again (sorry to keep harping on this, but it’s at the root of much boneheadedness) we see a failure to understand orders of magnitude and basic physical ideas.

  4. Thank fuck this stupid report by the doctors has diverted Tim’s attention away from the stupid report by the actuaries.

    Next – retired accountants on a new economic order…..oh, wait……

  5. “That’s a cube about 77cm on a side, which would fit in the back of of a Transit van, although it would then immediately go through the floor.” – he he, it would be fun to see how much weight you could put inside a Transit van before it broke, knocking on for 10 tons i reckon, though it would become undrivable at much less.

    Unlikely to go through the floor though, tyres would pop, and suspension break, but it would not punch through the floor panel (never tried, just supposin’).

    Iridium was discovered by Smithson Tennant, who also discovered Osmium, which is my favourite metal, and we don’t hear enough about Osmium on these page (Tim!).

  6. I haven’t heard the 77 satellites story, but I did hear that, because iridium is associated with the extinction of the dinosaurs, the Iridium system was so named because would do the same to obsolete comms systems.

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  8. The Iridium system was conceived at a time when land based cellular systems were primitive. The idea was that some people would like a phone that would work anywhere in the world, with things like globetrotting businessmen in mind.

    By the time that Iridium was built, cellular systems with global roaming were common, and a regular cellphone would essentially work in most populated places in the world anyway. Iridium was (and is) still useful for people who went to very remote places, but it never became the mainstream product that it was originally conceived as.

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