Likelihood of Success

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Brain melt via cell

Posted by Ron Coleman on July 24, 2008

ABC News reports that a leading cancer researcher has informally let it be known that, definitive scientific results notwithstanding, he thinks gluing a cell phone to the side of your head probably does fry your brain:

“Really at the heart of my concern is that we shouldn’t wait for a definitive study to come out, but err on the side of being safe rather than sorry later,” Herberman said.

No other major academic cancer research institutions have sounded such an alarm about cell phone use. But Herberman’s advice is sure to raise concern among many cell phone users and especially parents.

In the memo he sent to about 3,000 faculty and staff Wednesday, he says children should use cell phones only for emergencies because their brains are still developing.

Adults should keep the phone away from the head and use the speakerphone or a wireless headset, he says. He even warns against using cell phones in public places like a bus because it exposes others to the phone’s electromagnetic fields.

I’d keep that little Bluetooth thingy out of your ear, too. Why on earth actually inject electromagnetic waves into your head? Waves, or beams, or particles, or phlogiston. Whatever.

I tend to be really skeptical about sky-is-falling public health panics. This one I buy, intuitively, based on my utter lack of understanding of a single scientific, medical or technical issue involved. And, as an American and a blogger, I am committed to standing on that platform of ignorance and shouting terror and fear to the rooftops. Laugh if you will, but keep that damned thing away from my noggin.

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4 Responses to “Brain melt via cell”

  1. Avigdor MBawlmawr said

    Okay, get a wired headset, keeps the phone away from the head. I did when I got an iphone (old kind) because music sounds better in two ears at once.

  2. jaymaster said

    Without a doubt, cell phones kill.

    http://www.wgal.com/news/16988172/detail.html

  3. mhatlau said

    I can understand your hesitation. It is a classic example of perceived risk. The effect of electromagnetic radiation on human tissue is well understood. The damaging effect is caused by heating (like in a Microwave Oven). Basically, radio waves are dangerous if the amount of absorption exceeds the heat transfer properties of the material. A simple test is to place your finger on the antenna. If it is markedly warmer than when the cell phone is off, then you might have reason to be concerned. Using the worst-case scenario, ARPANSA standards (the most restrictive), for there to be any danger from localized exposure one must limit exposure from the most powerful hand-held cell-phone marketable to no more than ninety-two continuous hours per 24 hour period. This assumes the tissue in question is less than 1 mm from the radiator. I.E. just possible if one were to insert the antenna into the anal cavity. Though why one would want to use a cell-phone in this manner escapes me.
    By the way, using headphones actually increases your exposure. Most cell-phones locate the headphone jack on top next to the antenna. This means the headphone wire acts as an antenna, picking up more RF than you would be exposed to placing the antenna in its normal operating position. Since the wire is a better conductor than air, and the Pi-squared * R rule does not apply, and the point of maximum re-radiation occurs at the open ends of the wire. Using earphones is the equivalent of sticking the antenna in your ear. It does, however, make operation of the cell-phone practical in the aforementioned location were one so inclined.
    In conclusion, one can maximize electromagnetic exposure from one’s cell-phone by using ear-buds and sticking the phone itself up one’s a**. As a bonus, you will look even more dorky than those guys walking around with those BORG Bluetooth headsets hanging off their ears.

  4. Yeah, like I said!

    Using the worst-case scenario, ARPANSA standards (the most restrictive), for there to be any danger from localized exposure one must limit exposure from the most powerful hand-held cell-phone marketable to no more than ninety-two continuous hours per 24 hour period.

    That’s about what a typical teenager logs, actually.

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