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Daily Mail question of the day

Is electro smog causing your headache?


Next question?

The computer industry airily dismisses any concerns, claiming that Wi-Fi uses only a few watts of energy – \’less than a lightbulb\’.

But this ignores the fact that light and microwaves are different kinds of electromagnetic radiation, so the analogy with the lightbulb is meaningless.

Erm, forgive me, for I might well be wrong here as physics isn\’t my strong point: but aren\’t light and microwaves exactly the same kind of electromagnetic radiation, just at different wavelengths?

BTW, this piece comes from:

Alasdair Philips is the director of Powerwatch, an independent organisation researching electromagnetic fields and health.

These blokes.

Oh look, they sell Woo.

Lots of Woo.

Incredible amounts of Woo.

Truly Woo.

Pill Woo.

Even petrol Woo.

So, who at the Daily Fail is on a commission here?

12 thoughts on “Daily Mail question of the day”

  1. I might well be wrong here as physics isn’t my strong point: but aren’t light and microwaves exactly the same kind of electromagnetic radiation, just at different wavelengths?

    Correct of course but wavelength does matter.

    Which would you rather be bombarded with – Infrared or Microwaves?

    Not to say they are not tin foil hatted.

  2. The electromagnetic radiation stuff at those low powers is all pretty much woo: agreed.

    However, I am concerned that the computer security stuff is potentially a serious problem. And this is not the possibility that that paedophiles will ‘impersonate’ one and get one into trouble.

    Without encryption, transmission of IP traffic over wireless LAN is significantly more vulnerable to intercept than is wired use of ADSL etc. There is no requirement for physical tampering (which may leave a trail of evidence), location is much more flexible, mass interception is facilitated. Use of typical Wi-Fi encryption (somewhat helpful) is of no use if connection is freely available: because then so are the crypto keys. IMO, the only way to do this properly is with individually configured Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) as far as the Council’s hub. Somehow, I don’t think that is what Swindon Council have in mind, not least because it’s difficult for individual users to set up, and has needs significantly beyond just a Wi-Fi card and software embedded as standard into every operating system.

    So, should a (local) government organisation be encouraging, at the taxpayers’ expense, a scheme that will significantly reduce personal privacy and expose private communication to much greater risk of intercept, and the risks of fraud, blackmail, etc that arise from that?

    Best regards

  3. The magic word is “Rivuxy”. Starting with the longest wavelengths first, there’s radio, infra-red, visible, ultra violet, x-rays and gamma rays.

    As a general rule, the longer the wavelength, the less harmful they are.

  4. If I remember correctly, visible light is roughly530±100 nanometres, microwaves a few centimetres.

    So the same stuff, just with a difference in wavelength of about 100 million times (if I did the noughts correctly, I can’t be bothered checking).

    I’m slightly more concerned that my microwave oven uses the same frequency as the video link for the CCTV , so every time someone decides to cook something the TV suddenly switches to AV2 and attempts a visual representation of the output of a microwave.

    This invariably happens in the middle of my favourite programme.

  5. Really Mark, representing “gamma” with a “y”!!!
    Do you know no digital dark-age history?
    It’s close-parenthesis/back-space/forward-slash

  6. Photons at WiFi frequencies are in the ten microelectronvolt range, i.e. vastly below ionising levels. There are very few atomic processes that operate at these energy levels (hyperfine transitions, perhaps, but attributing any biological effect to those is a new one on me). Of course high power microwaves are dangerous, but being cooked is a very different hazard from contracting cancer. I can assure you that infrared radiation at the sort of energy densities found in a domestic microwave oven (>10 kW/m³) will do you a profound mischief. By comparison, a whole body dose of ionising radiation equal to the chemical energy in 1/100 of a teaspoon of sugar will kill you stone dead*.

    I did a calculation somewhere on a comment here that worked out how many weeks you needed to collect signal at the antenna of a mobile phone in a marginal signal area to equal the kinetic energy of a falling snowflake. Suffice to say that a femtowatt is a very small amount of power indeed.

    * this would be an 8-10 Gy dose for an adult.

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