Protons for Breakfast by fjwuxn


									Protons for Breakfast

    March 2010
     Week 6
   Nuclear Power

     Feedback from Week 5, March 24th 2010
You said                                                      I said
As a matter of fact, despite                  Yes. I agree that doing anything other than driving while you are
government being dead keen on car             driving is a distraction. I am surprised that the decrease in
drivers using hands free phones,              driving quality is the same because the extra factors of taking
research shows that the driving quality       one’s hands off the wheel to deal with a phone would seem to be
decrease is the same with hands free or an additional distraction. But if you tell me its true I can sort of
not.                                          believe it.
Mobile companies support hands free           I guess that’s true. I think more accurately they sell it because
kit because that way they sell more kit.      its legal to sell it and people want to buy it.
Do you have a iPhone 3GS and if you do how much Gb.             Sadly, I don’t have an iPhone. !
We should not ban phones because no           No matter how many people die? I don’t think that’s quite
matter how many people die (if they do) rational. But yes, their use and widespread availability has
then again they also save lives by 999!       definitely saved many lives.
What is the safest phone alive?               I don’t know. In terms of microwave risks, there is very little
Doctor Egg was a good man (egg) and           difference in their emissions and to the best of our knowledge
was good at his job. We will remember         they are all safe.
him                                           Personally, I will never forget him. Indeed I feel that part of
You’re so old fashioned!! a 2G phone LOL him is with me still – well at least on my shirt.
Thanks Michael Jackson (ha ha).               Indeed. I may not have a very good telephone, but I have the
                                              best thermometer in the World!
                                              Michael Jackson?
I’m not here next          I am sorry you will miss next week. If you have any course comments, please drop
week. Mobiles phones       me a line,
are EVIL!!                 Mobile phones are EVIL? I don’t think so.
Why did Dr Egg             Dr Egg exploded because the contents of the egg contain a good deal of water.
explode! (Poor Dr Egg). The phenomenal power input in a microwave causes the temperature to rise very
He was a good egg.         rapidly – much more rapidly than when an egg is boiled in water. The contents of
I LOVE I-PHONES!!!         the egg are sealed inside a skin-like membrane just under the shell. Because of
You helped me with my the rapid temperature rise the water content evaporates creating a high
project!!                  pressure. Ultimately the egg explodes.
                           I would love an iPhone too! It would be nice to have phone that was easier to use
                           and have buttons which didn’t stick. However, on balance I think that on the
                           whole I spend too large a fraction of my life connected the internet.
                           I am glad this helped.
If you switched a microwave         I can’t really understand that question. Do you mean if I put microwave
to 900 watts, then put it in        oven inside another? (It wouldn’t work!) Or do you mean if I just increase
inside a microwave and              the intensity of the microwave illumination? (Things would just happen
switched that microwave to          faster because of the SAR increase)
1900 watts, what would              We can’t really do drawings in any case.
happen?                             No. Computer viruses are the not at all the same thing as biological
Don’t include my drawings,          viruses. Smallpox is a disease caused the variola virus. Incidentally. This
they are bad.                       disease, which killed 300 million people in the twentieth century was
Could you spread a virus using      completely eradicated by 1979. Wow! What a triumph for humanity!
mobile phones etc. Everyone
who switched on the phone
would get small pox?

You said                                                      I said
When will you take this         I am sorry you will miss next week. We have two songs next week! We
show on the road? (I won’t      already have a version we have taken on the road to last years British
be able to make it next         Festival of Science. We may do it again sometime.
week !).                        We are thinking about how to ‘spread the effect’ of the course. But we think
All my friends at work          there is nothing like ’being here’ and so we generally focus on making the
would like to attend but        sessions special for the particular people who attend them rather than
Teddington is too far!          making it a production to be ‘broadcast’, where it just becomes another
                                ‘media product’.
If microwaves are        Mmm. Microwaves don’t’ ‘let off’ gamma rays, but may be you mean an oven similar
used for heating food to a Microwave oven which instead emitted gamma rays into the cooking cavity. As
then what would          we will see in Week 6, gamma rays go straight through most materials. They are
happen if you used       absorbed in thick sheets of metal, but are not reflected (as microwaves are), so
microwaves that let      their intensity inside a metal cavity does not build up.
off gamma rays           Incidentally, your food may already have been irradiated with gamma rays in order
frequency instead of     to kill any microbial infections of insects. The Food Standards Agency has a web
just microwaves to       page on the subject. It says that any food which has been irradiated must be
heat up some food?       labelled as such.
In my opinion David Beckham should eat flying bacon and smack his chin on            Mmmm.
Gordon bush. (Do you want to marry a post box?)
Thanks for today. It has cleared a few I am glad you feel less concerned. Personally I think that given
concerns I’ve had about mobiles and          the things we have to be concerned about, this one is way down
wifi.                                        my priority list.
Can we have something on nuclear             It is the answer!
fusion next week?
I have to admit that I was      We have two next week!
disappointed with the lack      Indeed. You will be pleased I have altered our risk assessment and filed an
of a song….                     accident ‘near miss’ report. That won’t happen again – so that was a ‘You were
Poor Dr Egg …. or Dr hand       there!’ incident and sadly we didn’t even have a camera!
grenade egg!
How much power do mobile broadband           I think they are the same as a 3G phone. The pulses of microwave
dongles emit and how does they work?         energy on which the data is encoded the phone .
Is the beer on you next week?                Sure, if you (an adult) turn up, I will happily buy you a beer.
I am not really concerned about mobile phones because all            Yes, Yes and Yes. But even so I think it is
results on the topic prove inconclusive. Also, surely it             still appropriate to look for evidence of
depends on how often your phone is used – use it less, text          potential harm on a precautionary basis.
more often than call – it is safer, use it more, call more than You are welcome.
text – it is more harmful. I don’t use my phone that much
and so I am not too concerned.
Thank you for the talk.

You said                                                     I said
This is my last feedback !                    I am sorry you will miss next week.
I actually hate – detest – loath the          I too find it irritating. Especially when my children answer the
echoes on the other end of the phone.         phone with the phone on speaker phone.
Mr Egg exploded! Oh no! Poor egg!             Indeed. Another sacrifice in the name of entertainment
What was the recipe for the brain juice       science.
(fluid)? I want to use it for my science      Please ask your parents! Or if you are a parent – make sure you
lesson!                                       try it first before your children are around!
I might blow up an egg too!                   Somehow the world got along before mobile phones. But I do
Mobile phones are good! I mean if we          admit it is hard to imagine a world without them now.
didn’t have mobiles we would not be able      I hope they will indeed share the masts.
to get anywhere! Or no-one will know          (A lesson in Italian from Dr. de Podesta. ‘Chow’ is a slang word
where we are!                                 for food, but I suspect you mean ‘Ciao’ the Italian multi-
Well next week is the last week !.            purpose greeting and farewell among friends.)
So good bye. It was fun!! Chow! Share         ‘Ciao’.
the masts!
Your egg experiment was the Why is it that the experiment in which I get covered in scrambled egg is
best experiment so far!           the ‘best so far’. I promise you that next week when we discuss nuclear
                                  power that there will be no ‘explosions’!
You told us that if I was to hug someone with a          So now you understand. All materials reflect, absorb,
mobile phone between us, there would be no signal        and transmit microwaves to some extent. Human flesh
getting to the phone, however, you also said that        is a particularly good absorber and microwaves only
the microwaves are absorbed and transmitted              travel around 5 centimetres through flesh before
through our bodies, so how come it doesn’t go            they are completely absorbed.
through our bodies when you hug someone and into If you are looking for a chat up line an experiment to
our phones?                                              do with a possible boy or girl friend then I heartily
*Never mind, you showed us as I was writing this.        recommend this as an excellent way to break the ice
*Highly amusing, I’m glad you weren’t hugging a          and discuss SAR in more detail ☺
Why does the man on the logo have a Because after net week’s session I am going to enjoy a pint of beer
glass of beer in his hand.               and if you are old enough you are welcome to join us. Of course the
Good experiments of egg blowing up. beer will be made of protons too
                                         Good for whom?
Thank you for educating us about mobile phones.                 You are welcome.
The mobile association should publicly put on campaigns         I too think this information should be more
to send out messages about safety levels of SARS, and           widely understood.
why use of phones should be limited by children.

You said                                                     I said
What else can you put in a         There are lots of eggstraordinary things you can do, and it’s not difficult
microwave that is                  to find them. But many are slightly dangerous and nearly all of them can
extraordinary when it come         break microwave ovens. So out of sense of responsibility and self-
out? (like the egg).               restraint, I am not going to tell you where to look.
If you were playing with a         No. Old generation Walkie Talkies simply never worked in my experience.
walkie talkie then your mobile     Modern ones work excellently. They use the same kind of digital
phone rings does it affect         technology as mobile phones but operate at lower frequencies around 400
your signal from the ‘walkie       MHz. They don’t use a network of local masts and so they are limited in
talkie’? If so isn’t that          range to a few hundred metres – perhaps up to a kilometre in favourable
another reason why mobile          conditions. The SAR to the head from their use is generally lower than for
phones are bad?                    phones because in use they are generally held much further from the head
How did the people in the old      in front of one’s mouth.
days book an hotel if there        They managed. For example, local post used to take less than a day. Or one
was no mobiles, landlines or       could always send a servant on ahead.
computers?                         I don’t worry much about using a mobile phone. But I know there is a
Do you think mobile phones         potential hazard there and I am aware of it. I think it is right that we
are safe or not safe? Are          continue to look for evidence any harm that might arise in the future.
they safe for kids?                Children may use phones for another 90 years whereas I will only use
If the phone is more fancier,      phones for another 50 years at most. So if there is an effect it might have
does it make it less safe to       a greater cumulative effect on children. The government recommends
use?                               children use mobile phones sparingly.
You should try flying onto the building and fly off to the nearest bus station and sit       ???
next to Cheryl Cole, late on eat a plate, and turn into a flying pig/apple cheese/ Then
brush your teeth with acid.
This is my favourite hobby as well as this club. NOM, NOM, NOM!
Do certain types      Yes. Materials containing moisture or metal absorb microwave energy. So trees with
of building           leaves absorb phone signals, as would a roof made of soil or being underground.
materials prevent Concrete made with extensive reinforcing mesh with also absorb microwaves. Also
phone                 having walls & ceilings made of metal with no gaps. Gaps even a few centimetres wide
transmission and      (the wavelength of the microwaves) will let in a phone signal. Think about being in an
reception?            aeroplane after the captain announces people can use their phones. The phones work
                      even ina metal tube with just a msall number of quite small windows.
Is there a website that perhaps outlines     
the tests used to test mobile phone safety. 
Have there been any attempts (maybe             
failed) to create a somewhat “safer mobile
phone”, is this one of the things companies      There is no competition to market a safer phone because to
compete with each other about?                   the best of our knowledge, all phones are safe.
It’s okay, I’m more of a texter anyway and         OK.
can barely afford credit.                          As I said, the power from a base station is only 0.1 Watts.
But I will be staying away from my wi-fi.          Yes, they are very low power devices – that’s what makes
I actually thought that the microwaves             the battery last long enough.
would be more intense from a mobile.
Can mobile phones affect fertility if        There is no evidence of any physical harm from mobile phones.
kept in your pocket over a really long       The microwave dose to your reproductive organs depends on
period of time?                              whether you a man or a woman and on the exact location of your
I will now tell my friend ‘radiation’ is     pocket. However phones barely emit any microwave radiation
not an excuse to have her phone              when they are not being used.
switched off.                                Indeed.

You said                                                     I said
Why do the jelly babies never make it       Mmmm. I wonder why. I will try to remember that for next time.
to the back, hmm?
Does storing your phone in       No. There is no evidence of any physical harm from mobile phones.
your bra increase the risk       Interestingly some mobile phones emit more microwaves out of the back of
of breast cancer?                the phone (the side you hold away from your ear). So your dose can depend
                                 on which side of the phone you place next to your skin.
There appears to be a lot of research       There are ethical issues about dosing people with effects do
on almost immeasurable effects rather measurable harm. And the real issue is about whether the low
than analysis from large exposures          level dosing actually does any harm
that give measurable effects.               Yes. If I recall correctly the effect was discovered when an
Did you know there has been a entirely alarm went off at a French processing plant. The test was
natural nuclear reactor?                    designed to detect Uranium which may have been enriched.
What produces gamma rays?                   Incredibly strong forces inside the nucleus of toms produce
I think that scrambled egg should be        gamma rays – we will have more about this in Week 6.
banned.                                     I think exploding eggs being scrambled over the front of my shirt
                                            should be banned!
Today’s lesson is very interesting. Personally I think       Indeed. Moderation in all things probably a very
everything excess is bad.                                    sensible policy
It was interesting to learn all these information have been          I am glad you found the information
given by experts.                                                    interesting.
After Protons for Breakfast I started to read “Surely you’re         I am afraid my life is not quite as
joking Mr Feynman!”. Scientists lives are quite interesting.         interesting as his life. But ‘Yes’ a life in
                                                                     science can be fascinating.
Thank you – I found the facts very reassuring.               I am glad.
Dr Egg? Surely Professor Oeuf!                     Oui.
You can choose if you want a mobile phone. If Yes. But even so, many people don’t fully appreciate how
you do then you have to accept the base            the technology works.
station network.                                   I will use this oven until it breaks - it has held up well so
When will you purchase a new microwave and         far. But no, I will not be microwaving 238U and 235U except
will the budget increase from £19.95 for it.       for the trace quantities of these metals that exist in most
Will you be microwaving uranium 238 or             natural minerals.
uranium 235 to see what happens?

You said                                                   I said
What’s the role      The SAR of mobile telecoms devices is measured in accordance with international
of NPL in the        standards that require electric fields emitted from the devices to be measured inside
SAR                  "phantom" heads, that is to say, artificial head-shaped containers which are filled with
measurement?         a liquid that has the same electrical properties (on average) as a human head. The
                     electric fields are measured by small 'SAR probes' about 4-5 mm in diameter that are
                     inserted into the liquid in the phantom, when the mobile phone under test is held next
                     to the ear of the phantom. As long as the measured fields are below certain
                     internationally agreed standard levels, the phone is regarded as safe.

                      All of these measurements are carried out by accredited test labs (not NPL). NPL's
                      role is to calibrate the SAR probes for measuring electric fields. We have to do this
                      when the probes are inserted in the same liquid that is used in the phantom head, as
                      the sensitivity of the probe depends upon the liquid into which it is immersed. With
                      calibrated probes the test labs and the end users of the mobile phones can be sure
                      that the tests are valid. NPL staff also sit on various standards committees that help
                      to set up the standards for SAR and we have advised and helped Universities that are
                      carrying out health and safety testing on mobile phones as to how they should carry
                      out their measurements.
The risk from mobile base              Yes. In these sessions I have asked nearly 1000 people what it is that
stations seems trivial (as             people object to about mobile phone masts. I have received two kinds of
explained very clearly and             answers. Most people object to them because they believe others will
persuasively this evening).            object to them and that the value of their home will be lowered. Some
Which makes the public                 people object to them because of they associate them with cases of
controversy over masts pretty          illness which they ascribe to the masts.
absurd.                                This is a tricky one. At the root of the issue is an unresolved possibility
Is there a more legitimate             of harm. However in this case, essentially only poorer people live under
concern about the electro-             high voltage power lines. The strongest correlation between any adverse
magnetic radiation from high-          health effect and any lifestyle factor is always with income. It
powered overhead electricity           overwhelms every other correlate. So this is a very difficult one to
cables?                                resolve, but to the best of my knowledge there is no known harm caused
                                       by these power lines.
So can you have a microwaved boiled           You can microwave a boiled egg. The instructions say to put the
egg or do you have to stick to the            egg in water
Have you ever tried a microwaved egg? Until last Wednesday, ‘No’.
What if you were to sit on a phone            Try it! But you need to sit on something opaque to microwaves –
would the call still be received?             such as the Earth – and to leave no gaps!
How many people in the UK go to A&E each year due to ill health I guess the answer is close to zero
caused by either a mobile phone or phone mast?                          To the best of our knowledge, no one has
Over 3000 die on the road each year in the UK, over 400 drown ever died due to mobile phone
in the UK each year, how many die due to mobile phone                   technology (aside from the cases caused
technology?                                                             by inattention while driving)
Why was there no song this week?                                        I am saving up to have two this week☺
Thank you for having me!                      You are welcome
For a good media scare story, have you seen:        . Search for the Sunday                            fails-the-aids-test/#more-721
Express headline “Suicides linked to phone masts”           Thank you for that. It is a tragic tale of ignorance
to see how bad reporting gets to front page                 compounded by ignorance. Non-science and non-
headlines!                                                  sense.

You said                                                     I said
I loved the CD in the microwave!            I enjoyed it too!
I never knew that humans could block        Well now you do!
waves!                                      Well your phone won’t be transmitting any information aside from
Does sleeping with your phone under         an occasional exchange with the cell, so I guess it would make
your pillow addle your brain?               very little difference.
Are eggs “safe”?         I used to think so, but after last Wednesday I am not sure !
Is the SAR of a          No. It is lower. Firstly Wi-fi power is lower – generally 0.1 Watt as against 1 W
wireless laptop          because it only needs to send signals for ten metres or so. Secondly, most laptops
similar to a phone?      have the antennae in the screen and so the antennae is not close to your body.
Where can we learn       However the one exception mentioned to me by the former head of MTHR (The
more about risks and     Mobile Telecommunication Health Research Programme) is cheap laptops that
uncertainties of new     stupidly have the antennae in the keyboard part of the laptop. If this is used
technologies?            directly on someone’s lap, then the SAR can almost reach that of a mobile phone.
                         Mmmm. I have not been able to find good links on this. You could try here at the
                         health and safety executive’s site


Mobile phones effect, if any comes mostly            Yes. You are right. The distance between the antennae
from the distance from your phone to your            and your body determines the SAR.
brain (am I right?). If you were to watch TV or TVs and radios don’t emit radio waves (much) so getting
listen to your radio with your head pressed up       up close to them would expose you to any emitted
against it, would you get the same effect?           radiation.
What do we need to       Great Questions
look at regarding risk There are a number of ways to tease apart the confusing data of what it is about
+ uncertainty toxic      our lifestyles that is ‘toxic’. But in general the simple fact is that in the UK, we live
lifestyles/              longer healthier lives than human beings have ever lived in all of history. So I think
Can we ever unravel      we need to be careful about the use of emotive words like ‘toxic’.
the various              If we have something we suspect may be harming us, we can design studies that
pressures/substances test for that effect. The problem with issues such as mobile phone use is that we
impacting on modern      know there is no direct immediate harm – people using phones don’t just die or
lifestyles?              start bleeding. We are looking for a rare effect which occurs from regular use for
Are these all            prolonged periods
measurable by            I think the effects we are looking for in this issue are right at the limit of what
science?                 can be detected.

You said                                                    I said
• I have LOVED these          •   I am glad have you have enjoyed the sessions.
   sessions and been          •   Mmm. I guess you are talking about Sami Gabriel from Vodafone. I did
   impressed by the               think for a long time about whether to ask people from outside NPL.
   information and the            There is of course the matter of trust. NPL generally doesn’t have any
   encouragement of               stake in the success or failure of a particular product line and we have
   debate and                     good knowledge of the basic issues. However, when I met Sami a couple
   consideration of the           of months ago he impressed me as having excellent knowledge of the
   issues.                        details of mobile phone technology that went beyond what NPL experts
• Until the post-lecture          could provide. Additionally he has personally made more SAR
   discussion on this one.        measurements on mobile phones than probably anyone else in the UK, and
   I feel like I am               certainly anyone at NPL. On balance I thought it would be interesting to
   attending a propaganda         have such expertise – mixed in with NPL experts - available to you.
   session. The session is        Perhaps I got that wrong and I will reflect upon that for next time.
   dominated by one           •   The question of a ‘debate’ is interesting, but debates that I have
   person continually             attended are generally sterile rehearsals of predefined positions. I
   stating how all tests          rarely find them helpful. But I could indeed ask along a representative of
   and all issues show that       organisations such as Mast Sanity
   phones are safe, or                          
   “inconclusive” really      •   The general message from Mast Sanity is that something terrible is
   seeming to advocate            happening but that ‘big business’ and ‘conventional science’ (that’s people
   one position. No               like Sami and me and Bob and Andrew) are conspiring to deny the
   complaints about him           existence of this epidemic of ill-health caused by microwaves. Through
   personally, but someone        their web site you can reach a wide range of people who will hint
   with a mobile phone            extremely strongly that mobile phones cause cancer. Or that a
   company is likely to be        phenomena called electro-hypersensitivity exists. And much more. The
   biased. I wouldn’t want        problem is there is simply no substantive evidence for any of that. And
   a debate on cancer to          people using regular scientific techniques have looked.
   be led by a tobacco            • I have put a note on cancer statistics at the end of this feedback so
   company employee.                   you can see that there is no ‘epidemic’ of cancer.
• I think that to have a          • Concerning electro-hypersensitivity, the MTHR programme found in
   true debate, you should             ‘blind’ tests that people who diagnosed themselves as electrically
   have had somebody                   hypersensitive could not tell when a nearby mobile phone was
   here to discuss the                 transmitting. But they suffered terribly when they thought it was.
   “other side” – the                  Their distress was real enough and they have my sympathy, but their
   evidence or studies                 distress was not caused by exposure to microwave radiation.
   that raise questions, or   •   I think organisations such as Mast Sanity are irresponsible in that they
   someone who speaks             spread real distress which really blights people’s lives, but there is
   for the people whose           genuinely no substantive evidence to support their basic proposition. If I
   health or lives have           saw convincing evidence of harm, I promise you, I would show it to you!
   been affected. What            Additionally Mast Sanity’s attitude distracts from the real question of
   has led France and             safety surrounding the use of mobile phone technology. The point of the
   other countries to put         discussion sessions is to help you make up your mind about the real issues
   restrictions on                by giving you access the facts from people you normally don’t have access
   mobiles?                       to – genuine experts. So in this case I don’t think having the ‘other’ side
                                  present would be helpful in terms of access to – and understanding of –
                                  the facts.

                              •   I thought that the limiting SAR value of phones was set by the EU so I
                                  am surprised that there are restrictions on mobile phones in France that
                                  do not apply in the UK. Can you tell me what these restrictions are?

You said                                                      I said
• What is the            •    A tau (τ) particle is a particle like an electron but heavier. A tau neutrino (ντ)is
   difference                 a particle which is like an electron neutrino (νe). Neutrinos are incredibly low
   between a tau              mass particles and it used to be thought that neutrinos actually had no mass at
   and a tau                  all. Recently we have found that neutrinos of all ‘flavours’ (electron neutrinos,
   neutring?                  muon neutrinos and tau neutrinos) all have a very small but finite mass.
• If you were to          • A big ratio – mobile phone expenditure would outweigh renewable energy
   compare spending           expenditure by a large factor. Why? Because people see an immediate benefit
   on mobile phones           in mobile phones and do not see any benefit from renewable energy investment.
   to spending on         • What a very important and insightful question. The answer is that it is very
   renewable energy,          difficult to assess. One can be clear about some aspects of experiments. For
   what would you             example the protocol used – exposure for 10 minutes to the left side of the
   find.                      Brain for 10 minutes every hour with an SAR of 1 W/kg. But frequently results
• What is the                 vary depending not just on the dose, but on who knows when the dose is being
   margin of error            administered. This is something which shouldn’t make a difference, but does.
   for mobile phone           Some studies are not ‘blind’ (i.e. the subjects and the experimenters know
   safety                     when the dose is taking place); Some studies are ‘single blind’ (i.e. the subjects
   experiments?               don’t know but the experimenters do know when the dose is taking place);And
                              some studies – most reliable – are ‘double blind’. (i.e. neither the subjects or
                              the experimenters know when the dose is taking place). Even though it should
                              make no difference it has been shown that there can be subtle effects on the
                              results depending on which experimental protocol has been adopted. Achieving
                              a double blind experiment is generally much more complex and expensive than
                              the other options.
If the people are concerned about                 It depends on what you mean by ‘if people are concerned
childrens’ safety, why did they build a radio about children’s safety’. In general just about everyone is
mast around at least 2 schools, (Bishop           concerned for Children’s safety. The question is whether
Wand, Sunbury Manor and a health/fitness          such masts present any hazard to children at all. As I hope I
place). I take the train from Bishop Wand         made clear in the talk, the dose of microwave radiation
(Upper Halliford), just across the A316 (I        received from base station is extremely low compared with
think) from the broadcast/receiver bit.           the dose received from using a mobile phone held to one’s
Also, children walk to the bus right past it.     head. I don’t know the antennae in question but if it is built
                                                  in line with regulations (which incorporate safety guidelines)
                                                  then I guess the exposure of the general public – children
                                                  included – must be low enough to be considered safe.
In the soundproof anechoic chamber:          You can hear sounds that reach your ears directly. But sounds
can you hear yourself inside it and is       which you make which would reflect off the walls of a normal
the soundproofing material                   room to you ears cannot be heard.
commercially available.                      The material is just foam but arranged into cones so that the
                                             successive bounces send the sound deeper into the walls
How did the crisp It’s a combination of two things.
packet shrink so      Crisp packets are made from plastic coated with metal. The plastic is permeable to
quickly in the        moisture and the metal coating prevents moisture entering the packet. In the
microwave?            microwave the metal heats up because large electric currents are driven through the
                      coating by the intense oscillating electric field. The heating causes the plastic to
                      shrink. Why? Because when the plastic sheet was manufacture, the raw plastic
                      material was stretched while it was hot (about 200 °C) and then cooled and the
                      strain was ‘locked’ into the plastic. When it is heated, the jiggling molecules can
                      readjust to relieve the strain and return the plastic to its ‘natural’ size.

You said                                                   I said
Why do people get so worked        People are more concerned about phones because the SAR from phones is
up about mobile phones and         larger. As I mentioned somewhere above, the SAR is lower because the
don’t seem to worry at all         output power is lower, and because the antennae is generally not so close
about wi-fi equipment? – is it a   to one’s body.
media conspiracy?                  I am not sure the ‘media’ are capable of conspiracy – their collective
                                   knowledge in this area is functionally non-existent.

     During the week an e-mail was forwarded to me from someone attending the course. They wrote:

         I wondered if Michael might have comments on the article at the link? Cell Phone Dangers --
         What They Don't Want You to See


     Well I do have comment. This is a terrible and pernicious web site. It contains misinformation in
     its most hateful forms. If you read this you might think we are in the middle of an epidemic. I
     honestly can hardly bear to look at this site but I will give you three quotes from the site:
         • Here Dr. Charlie Tia, a preeminent Australian neurosurgeon discusses what he believes is
             a contributing factor to this exponential increase in brain tumors among children:
             excessive exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF), and electromagnetic radiation
             (EMR) from mobile phones and other electrical and electronic equipment and appliances
         • Few people realize this, but brain cancer has now surpassed leukaemia as the number one
             cancer killer in children.
         • Australia has seen an increase in pediatric brain cancers of 21 percent in just one
             decade. This is consistent with studies showing a 40 percent brain tumor increase across
             the board in Europe and the U.K. over the last 20 years.
     The implication of this is that mobile phones are killing our children NOW! Is it true? If you look
     at the site you will see that he gives no references whatsoever– that’s a clue as to the amount of
     attention he has paid to the site. But even so the site leaves even me feeling worried. Looking at
     this you maybe you find yourself asking “Is this really happening?” or “Why didn’t Michael tell us
     about this?” Well I didn’t tell you about this because its just complete nonsense. Please don’t
     take my word for it, please look at the statistics yourself and make up your own mind.

     Australian statistics are not so readily available for analysis, but they are summarised in the
     following (long) document
     Surprisingly, they show an increasing trend of incidence for ALL cancers. I do not know the
     origin of this, but since it occurs for all cancers, this trend is likely to be an artefact of cancer
     diagnosis techniques or increased longevity. The Australian data is in contrast to the US where
     cancer statistics are readily available for all types of cancers dating back to 1975 – before
     there was any widespread use of mobile phones.
     US statistics are available from the National Institute of Health (NIH) cancer web site
     and from the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program web site which has
     intensively monitored selected populations to garner detailed data sets.
     Warning: These are BIG web sites and you will not find exactly what you want easily – it took me
     hours to find and extract the data I was looking for i.e. the data which most closely
     corresponded to that mentioned in the pernicious web site. This is data for the incidence of
     Leukaemia and Brain Tumours in (a) all patients and (b) in children age 0 to 14 and in children
     aged 0-19. What do the US data show? Please make up your own mind whether there is an”

exponential increase in brain tumours” or whether there is a “change in the ratio of brain
tumours to leukaemia” or whether there is evidence of “a 40% increase in brain tumours”.

                     Cancers of the Brain and Central Nervous                                                                                                               Leukaemia
                                              8                                                                                                                 14
and CNS per 100,000 population
Incidence of Cancer of the Brain

                                              7                                                                                                                 12

                                                                                                                                       per 100,000 population
                                                                                                                                       Incidence of Leukemia

                                              1                                                                                                                  2
                                                  All Races,Both Sexes                                                                                             All Races,Both Sexes
                                             0                                                                                                                  0
                                             1970     1980     1990    2000          2010                                                                       1970    1980     1990    2000          2010
                                                        Year of Diagnosis                                                                                                 Year of Diagnosis
   Cancer Incidence per 100,000 population

                                                                                             Cancer Incidence per 100,000 population

                                             20                                                                                                    20
                                                  Childhood Cancers (Age 0 to 14)                                                                                Childhood Cancers (Age 0 to 19)

                                             15                                                                                                    15

                                             10              All Cancer Types                                                                      10                        All Cancer Types
                                                             Brain & Other nervous                                                                                           Brain & Other nervous
                                                             Leukemia                                                                                                        Leukemia

                                              5                                                                                                          5

                                             0                                                                                                         0
                                             1970     1980     1990         2000     2010                                                              1970          1980     1990       2000        2010
                                                               Year                                                                                                           Year
In contrast to these basically static graphs, mobile phone use went from zero to its current
widespread use during this period. If exposure to mobile phones is a significant contributing
factor to these diseases we would expect to see a rising trend in these graphs versus time.
Mobile phones were used for the first time in the UK in 1985 and were rare before 1990.

However I don’t claim – and neither does anyone else – that this is ‘proof’ that mobile phones are
‘safe’. The data above indicate that there is no current evidence of harm. But such an effect may
exist and we should continue to look for it. We should continue to compile these statistics (which
is an expensive undertaking) and we should go further. For example, we can look at each tragic
case behind each dot on the graph above to see if there are common factors about the use of
mobile phones or other exposure to microwave radiation.
I have written this ’extra bit’ because websites such as the one mentioned spread only alarm and
fear offer no insight into what is really happening. The authors of such sites should be ashamed
of themselves.

Experts Bob Clarke & Sami Gabriel
Chair Averil
Flip Chart Said         Michael Said
Test. Head touching     If you look in the small print for your phone you will see that it specifies the
phone in use –          maximum SAR measured at one the standard positions with phone set at
actually tested in 4    maximum power. In normal us the phone will operate at lower power when it
positions and all       can and the SAR will be reduced. The SAR is determined within a volume of
frequencies → max       approximately 10 grams of tissue.
value – worst case.
Heat removed v          Yes, perfusion by blood flow will reduce any temperature rise on the time
quickly by blood        scale of a few minutes or longer. I have looked for data on what the normal
stream.                 variation of brain temperature. I haven’t found anything definitive, but
                        changes of roughly 1 °C seem to be spoken of as common, so the expected
                        rises from mobile phones
Cordless phones –       DECT phones are generally lower power than mobile phones because they
similar. Different      don’t have to transmit for such large distances. However the technology is
frequencies/heating     similar.
effects “feeling it     Yes phones get hot in use just because they contain active electrical
getting hot” –          circuitry. Heating of the head from this source is mainly at the surface
actually you heating    because the heat is communicated by conduction (atoms in the phone hitting
it up (head and hand). atoms in your skin) and by infra red radiation, which does not penetrate the
Battery and             skin deeply. If you have sat with a laptop on your lap for a long time you will
computer also get       know that this heat is a significant hazard in itself!
hot too.
Animal testing – even with higher doses … nothing conclusive. Testing animals with higher doses is
Stressing the mice during tests is a big effect too ….. mice – interesting, but its not what we really
normal ones and cancer susceptible ones – (not rabbits) …         need to know. We want to know the
done lots.                                                        effects of the low doses we receive –
                                                                  but for extended periods – our whole
Electro type/sensitivity? – non    People are very variable in all kinds of ways, and some people
typical response. Already trying may be more susceptible to harm from microwave exposure.
lots of experiments to find out    However no one has yet been found who can detect the
on them – inconclusive again.      presence of a microwave radiation at typical mobile phone
                                   power levels. The phenomenon of so-called electro-
                                   hypersensitivity has no experimental support at all.
Cost vs benefit –       Yes, people can make their own minds up, but I think it is only fair to ask
saving lives – people   people to do so in the context of products that we believe are ALL safe.
do own assessments.
International groups (cancer or other        I think this is saying that quite large teams collaborate
things) – decide best expts to do to give    internationally to have larger data sets in which they can
results. Heating ! human electro –           look for events that occur with a low statistical likelihood.
sleep/memory/react/ Quality of life too.
Cars 3000 deaths/yr 8/day. Phones ….               Phones cause no deaths that we know of.
Specific brain areas    Yes. The most specific tests done on this involving testing peoples reaction
– v. hard to do – not   times or electrical responses when they have a mobile phone activated on
easy with mice.         either side of their head
Accessories – wired ones – much lower SAR            Yes getting the antennae away from your body
because receiver not near head – only moves          generally reduces your SAR.

Flip Chart Said        Michael Said
Phones in men’s pockets – not a problem.                    Generally phones are not transmitting when
                                                            they are in a pocket.
“Safer” – less risk      This is an interesting question. Are phones with a lower SAR safer than those
than “no” risk?          with a higher SAR, but still below the legal limit? The formal answer is ‘No’ ,
                         because none of them present a hazard.
Phone SAR – greater efficiency                                    Yes, digital encoding of signals allows
old analogue – bit more power, different time                     better use of the amount of radio
distribution.                                                     spectrum available.
3G – lower power, averaged out more.
Masts – public issue,    Yes. There was an ‘unused’ slide on this at the end of the talk. When people
but least ‘risk’ – mast have no control over something they assess the risk of harm from that
imposed – no control     phenomenon quite differently from when they have – or feel they have – some
over.                    control
TV/Radio – can receive these.                   I can’t understand this. Sorry.
“Passive” mobile         I guess by this you mean the dose of microwave radiation that people receive
irradiation.             as they go about their lives without actively using any microwave devices. This
                         is certainly a low dose, but people don’t have any choice about it.
Masts, aesthetics –      Old masts are ugly but 3G masts are pretty inconspicuous. But I do believe
affect house prices.     that concern about house prices is at the heart of many peoples concern
                         about local masts.
Closer to base           Yes, so having more masts closer together reduces the dose of mobile phone
station – phone uses     radiation. Soon you may be able to have a very low power base station in your
less power to            own home (!) called a femotocell. This what Vodafone have to say about
transmit – lower         femtocells
power into head –
maximise battery                                        health/femtocells.html
Antenna on top of flat blocks      Yes, very little power is transmitted straight downwards, most it
– don’t point downwards”           reaches the ground around 100 metres away from the base station.
Death/disease – causes – hard to determine          That is certainly true. But in general in the UK we are
sometimes …. UK not as good at recording            living longer than ever before, and staying healthier
stats as well.                                      longer.
Radiowave illness – TV transmitters –         It is certainly true that high intensity microwave or radio
lots of power – can burn.                     frequency can burn – that’s how a microwave oven works.
Microwave ovens – 1970s, scares, not an       Using that meter that I used in the session one can
issue now – some leakage was possible.        detect the leakage from a microwave oven. It is generally
                                              rather less than a mobile phone emits.
Under 35s – suicide is leading cause of death.        Is that true? How terrible.
Danger – someone else can take        Yes, many people want to benefit from the use of a mobile phone
the risks! Nimby – masts.             network, but don’t want a mast near their home!

Experts Bob Clarke & Christine Jude
Stephanie Chair
Flip Chart Said                                              Michael Said
Surprises →        None                                      I think that is probably good?
Is this a large effect on           • On the scale of things which happen to our bodies it seems
brain?                                  to be not so terrible. Our bodies naturally adjust blood flow
• Its in the noise. Goes into           to places where the body gets hot.
     brain.                         • I just finished reading a review of around 50 studies
• Controlling cooling system.           looking in detail at how people respond to using a mobile
• Lots of studies →                     phone. They tested all kinds of responses – immediate and
     Virtually all studies → no         delayed and some studies showed small effects, and others
     effect.                            showed nothing. Someone asked above what is the margin
• Long term → cancers                   for uncertainty in such work. Well its very hard to be sure
     etc?                               exactly what that margin for error is and so some positive
                                        effects may be spurious (as may some negative ones). Its
                                    • As the data at the start of this handout shows, there is no
                                        gross ‘epidemic’ of cancer, but it could be that an effect
                                        will show up in the future.
Little energy as possible The initial communication between the phone and the base station is
→ to conserve                 conducted at full power, but when the signal level of phone at the
battery.                      base station is measured, the base station can tell the phone which
                              power setting to use, allowing the phone to turn down its transmitting
                              power. This is done to save battery life, but happily also reduces SAR.
Other sources → radio.             Broadcast radio waves have a lower intensity still than mobile
                                   phone ‘broadcasts’
Concern depending on knowledge →           What     What will reassure people varies from person to
do you need to reassure yourself.                   person.
• Few people come with preconceptions.              • Don’t we all come with preconceptions of one
• Some people had fears allayed.                         kind or another
                                                    • I am glad that some people feel better. I
                                                         really don’t think this should be at the of
                                                         anyone’s list of ‘Things to worry about’
Leakage from ovens →          Leakage from the microwave ovens I have tested is less than the
small.                        emission from a mobile phone – and generally not near one’s head.
Radios very sensitive.                 This is how they can operate with such weak signals.
Hands free → less risk                 As someone pointed out in one of the other groups, the SAR
                                       is lower with a hands free set, but if used to make a call
                                       while driving, it still can still distract.
Planning base stations                 It sounds very complicated. I thought that Network
(i) Local Authority (ii) Planning      operators had permission to install new equipment on
Masts (iii) Heights Power (iv)         existing sites without going through the full planning
Planning Permission                    process, but may be I have that wrong.
Improvement in designs           I think 3G masts are smaller less obtrusive that the classic cell
Mix of technical/aesthetic tower. It is quite possible to camouflage the masts so that they
difficulties                     can be barely noticed. In conservation areas this is quite common,
Benefit                          but I have read of people objecting to concealed masts on the
                                 basis that ‘they’ are trying to hide them. So I think visible, but
                                 discreet is probably the best policy.

Flip Chart Said                                         Michael Said
Blue Tooth. Less than   The Bluetooth headsets have only a very low power transmitter – 0.01
mobile phone            to 0.1 Watts and so the SAR to the head is reduced compared to the
                        SAR from a phone.
(1) Happy or unhappy →    mobile        Yes, whether you are unhappy or not, we are going to get
phones. More base stations.             more lower power base stations as mobile phone usage
                                        becomes more and more ubiquitous.
(i) Technical → Not         I can’t quite follow this thread. 10 years is a long time, but not long
strongly reduce power.      enough to detect cancers caused by environmental factors. It can
Long enough 10 years.       take 40 years to develop cancer after exposure to asbestos dust,
Children → more             and took 20 years after people begin to smoke for there to be a
precautionary approach.     corresponding rise in the statistics for lung cancer. I think a
                            precautionary approach is appropriate.
(ii) Social
Wireless Routers        I can’t quite follow this thread. There is no evidence that wireless (wi-
→leukaemia? →           fi) routers cause any harm, let alone leukaemia. The question of
physiologists → what    ‘mechanism’ is very important. If a statistical association between
would mechanism be.     cancer incidence and cell phone usage was ever demonstrated, that
→ ovens milk?           would be only the first step in understanding how the effect could
→ heat milk             arise. There are plenty of mechanisms that cause correlations in
                        statistics which do not indicate a causative effect.
                        There is no difference between milk heated in a microwave oven, and
                        milk heated on the stove. If you could look at the molecules jiggling,
                        you would see they were microscopically identical. Microwaves heat the
                        milk a little more efficiently and so waste less energy.

Flip Chart Said                    Michael Said
How does mobile       It has antennae hidden in the case. The antennae is just a piece of wire or a
phone send out a      thin copper strip formed into a simple coil. Electrical current is forced
signal?               backwards and forwards along the antennae which launches a wave into the
                      electric field
What would happen if you put a dog in the microwave?            Please don’t even talk about it.
What happens        With a text message, the computer in your phone constructs a mall ‘packet’
with texts?         of data from the text you composed and encodes it onto just a single pulse or
                    so of microwave radiation. The SAR from the is activity is low because the
                    phone is held away from the body and the transmission is extremely short.
Would a phone work inside a           No. The metal box which forms the cavity in which the
microwave?                            microwaves build up is sealed and neither lets microwaves
                                      in, nor lets them out.
What would       I think I mentioned some where above. Gamma rays go straight through most
happen in a      materials. They are absorbed in thick sheets of metal, but are not reflected (as
gamma ray        microwaves are), so their intensity inside a metal cavity does not build up.
What would happen if you put a        The metal would get very hot and ignite the chemicals in
sparkler in a microwave?              the sparkler. The ensuing fire would destroy the oven
How do the               That is really complicated. It’s a bit like the way audio information is
waves/pulses make        encoded in an MP3 file or on a CD. The difference is it is done with
(encode) words?          barely any delay

Flip Chart Said                      Michael Said
How many people have      To the best of our knowledge – no one has ever died from using a mobile
been killed by            phone. That excludes the several cases each year in which people die as
mobiles?                  a results of inattention by a driver or pedestrian caused by using a
How does a              The microwaves in a microwave oven are generated by a magnetron valve.
microwave work?         This is a complicate device invented in England during the second world
(Magnetron)             war. Inside an evacuated glass bulb, there are several cylindrical cavities
                        in a magnetic material. Electrons sent through these cavities adopt a
                        spiral trajectory and the rate at which they loop in their spiral
What happens when you send a txt A computer realises what you have done and ‘reads’ the
to a landline?                         message out loud to the luck recipient.
Does the environment affect the        Yes. The signal cannot travel materials with a lot of
microwave radiation between            moisture. Thus transmission can be affected by rain and
phones and BS?                         fog.
31 children     26 phones              UK Government advice on children and mobile phones
2 know of government guidelines        The UK Government recommends limiting children’s use of
1 bluetooth headset                    mobile phones as a precaution. This is because children are
                                       still developing and may be more sensitive to RF fields.
                                       Their advice is for children to use mobile phones for
                                       essential calls only, and to keep calls short.
Is it for children/parents/government to         IN some way I guess each of those people has
choose who uses a phone?                         some responsibility
Satellite phones /     
                          Satellites telephones send signals to one of a fleet of 66 orbiting
                          satellites. The satellites are 781 km high so the handsets need to be a
                          bit larger and more powerful
Do phones absorb energy?               Yes. Some of the emitted energy is reabsorbed in the
                                       material of the phone itself
How much phone use causes              To the best of our knowledge, mobile phones do not cause
cancer?                                cancer.


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