Coping: The Electric Body Debate–Wi-Fi to Kill Millions?

We might as well “head this one off at the pass” because no doubt there will be some people who will ask:  “What’s with the story over on Before It’s News about how Wifi could kill millions of people?”

Ah…damn fine question there…damn fine indeed.

So you go read the story and I’m sure the first thing you’d want to do is run out and unplug all the wireless routers in the office.  But is that practical?  (I have three wireless networks here so “going dark” would not be a smart business move, lol.)

Maybe that’s extreme, but there’s a lot of thinking that needs to be done in this area.

To begin with, there are two kinds of radio energy”  Ionizing (as in “cooks people”) and non-ionizing (as in AM radio and shortwave/ham radio HF bands).

The simple fact is that the higher the frequency of a radio signal, the more it tends to ionize (heat/cook) a person.  And just how fast?  A matter of frequency:  The higher the frequency, the more danger is posted by ionizing radiation. 

Climb the tower of a 5 kilowatt AM radio station while it’s running to change a tower light 180 feet up?  No problem (except you need a dry board to make sure you don’t become a replacement for the tower base insulators, which could be a shocking experience.

On the other hand, put your head into the main lobe of a 100 KW FM transmitter up on that same tower and now you’re into the real of potential serious harm to body and mind.

That’s the difference between 1 Megahertz radio and 100 Megahertz radio.  And as you go up in frequency?  Yes, you can kill birds with high power radars…and the typical router is around 2.4 GHz, which is right next door to the microwave cooking band…so there is something to worry about.

But how much is “safe?”

No one really knows, for absolute positive/certain.  While some countries have much lower radio frequency (RF) exposure limits than the US/FCC standards, there’s much yet to be learned.

The main thing is that while the initial thresholds were set based on ionization/heating effects, there are deeper effects, down at the DNA level that have been only partially explored.

One of the best books out in terms of the basic science (through its publication in 1985) is The Body Electric: Electromagnetism And The Foundation Of Life by Becker and Selden. 

The problem is (and then touch on this in the last of the paperback in the section Political Science) that there are huge commercial forces at work.

You see, over the past 40 years, there has been tremendous cost reduction in extremely high frequency technologies.  But at the beginning of the period, it was axiomatic that “the higher the frequency, the higher the price.”  Solid-state devices like transistors (and a side order of tunnel diodes, if you please) were not always so high-frequency friendly. 

But it’s not just the devices themselves (and high-precision manufacturing):  It’s also the assembly processes.  40-years ago, we couldn’t even find a four-layer PCB and now 6-layer PCBs are commonplace.  More, sure, but added cost.

And then there’s this whole matter of surface-mount technology.  What makes the SMT process different that 40-year old technology is that old style (leaded parts and single-layer boards) meant that each component lead because critical because at extremely high frequencies, they were a significant source of stray capacitance and inductances – and those led to lots of design nightmares like unwanted oscillations and so forth.

Now, though, it’s not uncommon to have a multilayer board with extremely small, short leads (the components for an old fart like me require a microscope to do right) and the multi-layer boards mean a “ground plane” can effectively encapsulate one part of a circuit and isolate it.

But so much for the how-to part:  The real question is still out there:  How much radio-frequency energy is too much and more importantly, what mix of energies can be especially bad for you?

If you’re looking for a business template to think about this RF Exposure issue with, try the petroleum industry’s fracking model:

Like fracking, the higher level of RF exposure is a short-term expedient answer to a long-term problem.  While, no doubt, some occasional bursts of energy may be responsible for advances in DNA, it may only appear so because the “winners survived.”  No telling how many genetic mistakes died over the course of humankind’s evolution, were burned at the stake, or whatever.

What some good science is beginning to ask now, though, is a fundamental question:  How much is good…and as what point do we tip into bad….just like Fracking with its pollution of groundwater and setting off earthquakes?

In both cases the real culprit is money…but you already knew that.  RF – radio frequency – energy is no joke.  It’s also terribly under-studied.

And when news does come out – like “Effect of mobile telephone on sperm quality: A systemic review and meta-analysis” just out June 10 and here on the government’s PubMed website, we read where study authors Adams, Galloway, Mondal, Esteves, and Mathews  have run up another warning flag:

“We conclude that pooled results from in vitro and in vivo studies suggest that mobile phone exposure negatively affects sperm quality. Further study is required to determine the full clinical implications for both sub-fertile men and the general population.”

I bet the major router companies won’t ante up for more work in this area…until a suitable replacement product for wifi and cell phones is ready…

When you stick a cell phone in your pocket, it’s not as dangerous as climbing up past a high-power FM transmitter, I’ll grant you that.  But, on the other hand, that son or daughter in the wings will have (maybe) 60-90 years to materialize the effects.

And you wonder why I don’t carry a cell phone unless absolutely necessary for business, and then at arm’s length (or greater) if I can? 


Around here that’s a simple one to figure out:  Back To Work / left over Pizza for Breakfast.

Goodbye Independence

Oilman2 spied this fine catch “U.S. military totally dependent on Chinese production” to keep our military functioning.

As if you need to be reminded of the question I was asking this weekend, but here it comes again:  “What was it we were celebrating, anyway?”

Market Outlook

From reader Michael:

“George, caught your C2C, but cannot believe my ears. Dow 25,000?


Even a retrenchment of 50% from there is still pretty great, no?

I guess your final answer is:   we dodged the bullet? “

Yes, there is a non-zero chance that the market could have a huge blow-off.  The way it would happen would be similar to how the final blow-off was set up for 1929:  The Fed raised rates from 4 to 4.5% in late 1928.  This caused money to come flooding out of the bond market and into the equities (stock) market. 

As I’ve explained, in more detail to Peoplenomics readers, there is some resistance ahead (around S&P 2,050-2,082, but once through that, we could have a runaway pop up to the unreal prices of Dow 25,000 and S&P 2,500 or even higher.

What stokes it?  All that “made up money” coming out of dark pools of money and when that happens, Katie bar the door.

Megaquake  to Come?

Of course, when the market meltdown eventually comes, the stock market will no doubt be looking for something to blame it on.

And my consigliere has his eye on a post from over on Godlike Productions recently that purports to come from someone who has seen the future accurately before:  This times it’s a precognitive dream about New Madrid…

As a permabear (one who likes to make money timing the collapse of over-inflated markets) I have to admit that the Fed has done a really good job of managing internal controls.  The economist in me says call it “endogenous event management.”

But when markets really collapse, it’s usually from some kind of exogenous (outside the market) event.  And gee, since this poster at GLP has 9-1-1 a couple of years in advance, it would sure fit nicely with a market collapse in, oh, mid 2016.

But we shall see…hopefully after cashing in some my my “long side lottery tickets” (call options on major indices for a year from now).

OK, off into the roundup of morning news and a serious look at markets then back to the million and one things around here…   come on back tomorrow, coffee’s on you.  Got a couple of book reviews for you then…

Write when you get rich