Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/11/28/letters_2811/

Lobsters destroyed by intelligently designed killer WiFi

Really true

By Lucy Sherriff

Posted in Letters, 28th November 2006 18:04 GMT

Letters El Reg's inbox was bulging with mail on this one: can a Wi-Fi signal make you sick? We suggested that it was unlikely, and for the most part you agreed. We include the following examples of your thoughts on the case of a teacher reporting terrible symptoms after working in a Wi-Fi bathed environment:

"I felt a steadily widening range of unpleasant effects whenever I was in the classroom. First came a thick headache, then pains throughout the body, sudden flushes, pressure behind the eyes, sudden skin pains and burning sensations, along with bouts of nausea. Over the weekend, away from the classroom, I felt completely normal."

I must resist - it's just too easy!


Others were less restrained:

Who wants to bet he just has Monday blues or the walls are padded with Asbestos?


That's just the effect of teaching Children for a living, i'd reckon.


i know some other teachers that experience the same symptoms when they are in the classroom but they assure me that it is due to being near the kids


Don't most teachers experience that sort of thing? :-)

Given the relative signal strengths, it would be interesting to know if/how Mr Bevington copes with a mobile phone...


I find it incredible that you continue to poke fun at any attempts to limit the use of microwave / rf devices, as there is an increasing body of evidence which suggests that they do cause very significant health problems - not only cancer, as has been 'known' about for years, but psychological probelms, too (as mentioned in this article). Although a little vitriolic, try reading the reader's letter published on the inquirer's site today.


Surely I'm not the first to point this out, but "Ysgol Pantycelyn" actually translates as "Pantycelyn School". Picky, but one needs to get the facts straight.

Otherw ise, spot on. Wonder how many of the concerned parents are quite happy to have cordless phones, bluetooth headsets, wireless doorbells and heaven-only-knows what else kicking around their poor, over-irradiated homes and frying their kids? --hugh

nice to see a bit of critical on the wifi nonsense, you might find the 31 studies on "electromagnetic hypersensitivity" here are useful, its exactly the same symptomatology and exactly the same issue, re-branded as wifi. http://www.badscience.net/?p=239 incidentally, theres no reason you should be familiar with my work, but i do a lot of stuff that might be expected to upset various groups of people, and i can honestly say, auditing my hate mail, that nothing has produced as much vicious hateful bile in my inbox as this issue. cheers b

We keep hearing about the health effects of mobile phone masts, TETRA, wireless network PADs etc etc. Yet everybody (including, I suspect, the people mentioned in your piece) uses mobile phones without the same ill effects.

My problem with this is: dosage. A mobile phone mast has an ERP of maybe 10 watts (much lower in urban areas) at a minimum of 10m up, wireless network PADs are limited to 100mW. In all cases the human involved will be some distance from these devices. The root mean square law applies here and the average body dose (even when standing next to a mobile phone mast) pales into complete insignificance compared to the dosage of the (up to) 800mW of 900 / 1800 Mhz energy irradiating your skull when you chat into your mobile phone.

Is this not yet another scare story perpetuated by non-scientifically trained journos, pushed by equally untrained, scientifically ignorant, interest groups. Is it also not strange that this is largely an Anglo-Saxon phenomenon? One does not see the same level of angst on the continong. Could this be, yet another, example of the failure of (any kind of) universal scientific schooling in this country?

Cheers Dirk

Also hitting something of a sensitive spot for many of you was the news that intelligent designists are making moves on the UK curriculum. Quite a variety of opinion on this one. In response, we need to point some readers to a definition of a scientific theory (as opposed to a hypothesis). Others need to read around the subject more. And one definitely needs to calm down, for the good of his or her own health: worrying about the state of a journalist's immortal soul is not a good way to spend your life, you know:

As strange as it may sound, these information packs probably *are* a useful teaching aid: they will help teach children that there are credulous morons and smooth tongued purveyors of attractive but nonsensical ideas everywhere, and that rational thought and scientific method are the only way to approach questions like the origins of life.


I think Intelligent Design could have a very instructive role in the science curriculum. It sounds perfect for those science lessons where students are taught the concepts of the scientific method. Indeed, as an assignment to show that students have fully grasped said concepts, an essay question along the lines of "Compare and contrast the research methods of the Intelligent Design and Natural Selection camps, paying particular attention to how evidence for and against both is tested" would illustrate how something can sound scientific without actually being so.


> One of those who welcomed the unscientific teaching pack was Nick Cowan, head of > chemistry at Bluecoat school in Liverpool.

Surely you mean "... Nick Cowan, head of the Christian Institute, and Young-Earth Creationist who is also a chemistry teacher at Bluecoat school in Liverpool."

Much scarier that a mere misguided teacher.


Oddly enough, although I find Intelligent Design implausible and annoying, I am not sure that introducing it into schools is necessarily a bad idea.

After all, from what I hear it merely offers the obvious common-sense riposte to the theory of evolution. People from my mother to Fred Hoyle have observed that life as we know is too complex and finely-tuned to have evolved by random processes. While I believe the arguments for Darwin's point of view are overwhelming, some of them are quite subtle.

Surely it is in the true spirit of science to expose our best theories to the test of naive criticism? If the theories are correct, they can be proved convincingly. To stand on authority, saying "Darwin was right, evolution is the official version, and dissent will not be tolerated" would be to change places with the medieval church and other persecutors of science.

Of course, many of the less intelligent, imaginative, and motivated pupils will not be able to grasp the subtle arguments for Darwinism, and may therefore be persuaded of the truth of Intelligent Design. But that is the price we pay for educating children to think for themselves. We can teach them to think freely and independently, or we can batter our own received opinions into them. We can't do both at the same time.


It may be against government policy today (where "today" is defined as "this particular response to this particular question"), but hasn't it been part of Blair's flagship education policy to subsidise creationist schools (I'm thinking of the Vardy ones here) with public money? Not sure how he squares this with his claimed support for science - perhaps this is another one of those matters where he expects that god will judge him...


Am I the only one that is reminded every time this hocum comes up of the very old joke How can you tell God was an Architect?

Who else would put the waste disposal system in the middle of the playground

I can't help feeling that if we are all the result of Intelligent Design that there was a distinct lack of intelligence being applied.

Cheers Ken

We apologize for sending the ID morons overseas. We realize that they're not one of our finer exports; but we had to get rid of them somehow. We're comforted by the fact that they'll be well cared for. Since ID's are mental defectives, your MP's will probably vote to make them a protected species and post cameras and microphones around their habitat. Who knows? Maybe you can revive the textile mills with their labor? They're cheap, stupid and expendable.

P.S. Should you eventually find them as tedious and cretinous as we do (and you will), please be aware that we've revoked their citizenship.

An American

Who are you to say what is scientific and what is not? What qualifications do you have? What study have you made of this subject? You are just tropping out the same old prejudices of the agnostic psycho babel crowd who are afraid to face THE FACTS. Fact 1: God is REAL. FACT2: You will meet Him one day and afce to face you will have to answer for every lying word you spoke. FACT3: Unless you repent you find out that hell is a real place too FACT3: The BIBLE is TRUE - is God a lier? You seem to think so. Chew on that.

Bible Believer

It sounds like there is a need for a UK branch of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster http://www.venganza.org/

They do not seem to have any prophets yet and I am planning to fill the gap once I have worked out if a long grey beard is compulsory. Unfortunately wikipedia is silent on this subject. I have a short grey one so might qualify as a junior prophet.

The web page says: "I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence." which sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

Steve The Eschatologist

Noodly doodly. The best of the rest starts on page two.

Fighting terrorism with bees. Well, why not? Naturally, you have a good reason:

I was enthralled by your article about the US invention of a bomb sniffing device. I love reading about new advances in new technology, even if it does consist of a bee in a box.

This technology however was of particualr interest as I had already heard of this technology, more specifically I had already heard of this technology when it was invented 3 years ago!

The technology of sniffing bombs using bees was invened by a British man called Paul Davis. Unfortunatly I had heard that the reason that this was never turn into a working product was that the US gov had applied the Patriot act & taken the technology off the compnay to use for their own ends.

All that the US had to do was to build their own version of the design, very clearly outlined in the patent. I'm not sure why US scientist needed 18 months research, the patent is one of the clearest I have ever read and clearly shows a lot of work has already been carried out.

Apparently 'their own ends' also translates as "wait 3 years and claim that we invented it".


Silly server names. And why not?

in a similar vein, until quite recently the Met Office in Bracknell used to have a pair of twin Crays. They were called Ronnie and Reggie.


I know of lots of companies that use wierd naming schema, Can you guess what Eircom use ? moe.eircom.net. 86320 IN A kodos.eircom.net. 86269 IN A smithers.eircom.net. 86393 IN A barney.eircom.net. 86188 IN A Barney is running NetSaint as far as i remember :D


More on the computer misuse act, and its woolly wording:

Problem is, banning nmap doesn't stop people who are breaking the law already from using it. It also doesn't stop someone just smacking all the ports (because nmap merely cuts down the number of possible attack vectors you need to try but you don't need to limit yourself just to them).


"The new Act will make a person guilty of an offence "if he supplies or offers to supply any article believing that it is likely to be used to commit, or to assist in the commission of, [a hacking offence]". The word "article" is defined in the Act to include "any program or data held in electronic form"."

Oh dear. At least within the computer security industry, it is common knowledge (which must make "belief" "likely") that patches (which must be a good match for "program or data in electronic form") are reverse engineered by the bad guys to find out where the flaw was (and still is, in unpatched machines). How long will it be before software companies are hauled up in front of a judge for protecting their users?

Who would bring such an absurd prosecution? Well, any end-user who was a day or two late applying the latest patches might have a legitimate grievance, and the bad guys in organised crime have an obvious interest in encouraging such prosecutions. Of course, such silliness is just what you deserve when you try to criminalise knowledge.


A SurfKitchen patent has you all as angry as Gordon Ramsey:

In the article "Surf Kitchen patents customised phone downloads" (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/11/21/sk_patent/) you write, "While the concept might seem obvious, that makes it no less of an invention and no less patentable and, unless some strong prior art turns up, Surf Kitchen will have a significant advantage in handset interface customisation."

If I dust a boxing glove with icing sugar, is the act of planting it in the groin of a patent lawyer suddenly patentable because of the icing sugar? That would seem to be the level of inventiveness encouraged by various patent regimes today.

If we allow the continuous institutional and corporate pressure within the European Union to legitimise exactly this kind of "armchair patent", the supposedly dynamic European economy of the 21st century is going to be all about profiteers taking things which belong to everybody (or are at least freely usable by everybody), frosting the top with the intellectual equivalent of icing sugar, and then levying a tax on anyone who goes near either their "invention" or the thing they gladly co-opted to serve their business model.

There will be no more genuine innovation if all real scientific and technological work is hindered by speculative monopolies, such as the one described in the article, established by people who did none of the real work in the first place, but perhaps those deluded enough to genuinely believe that patents somehow reward innovation will come to realise that the only real beneficiaries of permissive patent regimes are those who run and administer those regimes.

Patents don't reward innovation; ultimately they only serve to reward the people who grant the patents. Scientists and technologists would do well to cut these people out of the loop once and for all.

The Badger

"unless some strong prior art turns up"

Err, like Microsofts Windows Update service, where a client contacts the server which puts together a package of only the updates relevant to the client ?


"While the concept might seem obvious, that makes it no less of an invention and no less patentable..." While it's been a long while since I suffered hearing about patents as a computer science student, I do seem to recall "novel" and "non-obvious" being two fairly important criteria.


When is a ringtone more than just merely annoying? Simple. When it is blasphemous too:

I wonder if we could get these clerics to extend this ruling to all polyphonic ringtones, thus demonstrating that Islam is a truly civilised religion. I like the sound of, "anyone who persists in using these should be ostracized from society".


And finally (well, we had to) we turn to the cosmically important question of just how much sex a poor man's lobster should be having:

Lester, what if anything, does this have to do with the fine business of reporting about all matters technological?

Unless there will be a follow-up along the lines of: 'Some Comments About the Apparent Similarity Between Submissive-Dominant Behaviour in Crustaceans and the Reason for Common Users to Accept Microsoft's Overtly Aggressive End User Licence Agreement - a study in dominance of software vendors over their customers in the consumer electronics market space' I'm not really all that interested in how and why crustaceans get their freak on.

Really, let them get a room or something.

I'm a geek. Sex is behaviour that other people are purported to engage in. It has nothing to do with me. The day women produce a tidy log file of the problems they encounter while the process is running is the day I'll happily start debugging. Until then: don't give me images of fornicating crustaceans.

What's that all about?


A good question and, it seems, a reasonable point to leave things for today. Ponder that one, Vultures... ®