Fact and Fiction

Thoughts about a funny old world, and what is real, and what is not. Comments are welcome, but please keep them on topic.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Mobile phone radiation

Is the electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones and mobile phone transmitters damaging to your health?

Uncontrolled experiments on myself reveal a tingling sensation in the general area of the ear to which I am pressing the mobile phone. Is this an effect caused by mobile phone radiation? Is it because I am getting cramp from clutching my phone too tightly? Or it is merely my over-fertile imagination? That's what controlled experiments are supposed to disentangle, so you know which effects occur because of which causes. Nevertheless, the tingling sensation is sufficiently strong that I now always use an earpiece for long calls on my moble phone.

I also hear about electromagnetic standing waves on the wire leading to the earpiece, but I ignore these stories, which has thus created an impregnable defence against any ill effects that such waves might have on my brain.

I would have thought that any form of electromagnetic radiation could potentially have bad (or good) effects on us, simply because everything in our body acts as an electrolyte which can therefore respond to electromagnetic radiation.

The frequencies used by mobile phones are in the 1-2 GHz range, which correspnds to a wavelength range 15-30 cm. This is in the same ballpark as the size of a human head, so surely it is possible for some sort of resonance to occur?

The mobile phone vested interests are strong. I know someone who has lost around £500k unsuccessfully fighting a court case to have a mobile phone transmitter mast removed from their building.

A key problem is that in science you can't prove a negative. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. No-one can prove that an effect does not exist, because people can always claim that the effect in fact does exist, but people were just looking for it in the wrong places. So when people claim that mobile phone radiation is not a problem they are being economical with the truth. What they mean to say is that they haven't yet seen evidence that it is a problem. Usually that means that they have turned a blind eye to things that might be positive evidence, just so they can say they haven't seen any such evidence. I'm being cynical? No, I don't think so.


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