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Startup Uses Radiation Fear To Map Cellphone Coverage

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the might-as-well-put-it-to-good-use dept.

Cellphones 81

judgecorp writes "Fears that mobile phones cause cancer have never had strong backing from scientific research, but Israeli startup Tawkon is using those fears for an interesting business model. Its free app (banned from Apple's App Store, but on Android, BlackBerry and unlocked iPhones) tracks how much radiation your phone is emitting. This lets concerned users hold their phones away from their heads or whatever — but it also gives Tawkon a useful map of cellphone coverage around the world, which is the real asset it is monetizing — for the benefit of everyone, it says."

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81 comments

Awesome... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42814219)

now not only will we have a bunch of idiots driving down the road on cell phones but they will be holding them away from their heads instead of on their shoulder!

Re:Awesome... (1)

SydShamino (547793) | about a year and a half ago | (#42816081)

Isn't the best-case scenario these people putting the phone on speaker and setting it on the center console? That gets it out of the shoulder/head/hands entirely.

Re:Awesome... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year and a half ago | (#42819805)

Isn't the best-case scenario these people putting the phone on speaker and setting it on the center console? That gets it out of the shoulder/head/hands entirely.

Ah, but there's a conflict between "wearing a tinfoil hat to keep the phone/government waves out of your brain" and "submitting to the government imposition on my freedom to phone however and whenever I want to". Tricky one.

Snake oil again? (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814225)

...is using those fears for an interesting business model

So, it's the newest high-tech version of selling magic crystals, horoscopes, and wall plug nuclear electricity filters? Wow. That's classy.

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814251)

What's that old saying?

"No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people."

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

craigminah (1885846) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815387)

I think that old saying might also be "non-ionizing radiation doesn't cause cancer".

Re:Snake oil again? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42817011)

I work in neurology research at a university- so far, the jury (data) hasn't decided yet. Increases in cellular calcium ion channel activity result from exposure to EMF. This includes L-type calcium channels in neurons. The L-type channel is involved in a lot of functions- this includes gene expression, neuronal survival and death. I'm not saying "it causes cancer". Just saying there are still some very compelling grants out there about to be funded that are looking into this- The jury is still out.

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | about a year and a half ago | (#42818055)

The jury might want to study the effects of solar radiation and flashlights on people.

Interesting questions are: What percentage of 1GHz penetrates more than 0.5 mm into the skin? how is it going to affect you if you don't feel any heat? If it doesn't make your eyeballs frost over, just how strong is the evil effect ?

Re:Snake oil again? (2)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year and a half ago | (#42819839)

how is it going to affect you if you don't feel any heat?

Gravity waves, obviously. You people with your electromagnetism-centric attitude.

Re:Snake oil again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42827585)

If you have the time, this (pdf warning): personal.stevens.edu/~bmcnair/BME322-S10/Class%2012.pdf (not me, BTW),

and this: http://opal.msu.montana.edu/cftr/IonChannelPrimers/beginners4.htm [montana.edu] are good places to start if you're motivated.

Re:Snake oil again? (2)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828277)

The jury might want to study the effects of solar radiation and flashlights on people.

Do you think that "the jury" hasn't done a lot of study on solar radiation?

Some of the interesting things they have found is that the Electromagnetic radiation from the Sun has a big heating effect.

The UV output of the sun can damage the skin over long periods of time, leading to cancer in some cases.

The solar radiation also produces Vitamin D. There are interesting medical aspects of that, as highly pigmented humans, such as peopl eof African (and probably Indian) descent are in need of Vitamin D supplements when they live in northern environments, wher ethey recieve less sun. Indeed, many people have severely limited their exposure ot sun, and Vitamin D deficiency is fairly common. This is in stark contrast to 40 or more years ago when People were cautioned against getting too much Vitam D, other than the milk supplement and natural solar exposure

That is only one aspect, there are other aspects of solar radiation, such for plants, which depend on solar radiation as part of their photosynthesis. In short, Solare EMR is a huge energy source for living organisms.

As for investigations of flashlights, do you think that is an intelligent Question? The person you are replying to gives an honest answer, and you give a frankly stupid response. Interesting questions are: What percentage of 1GHz penetrates more than 0.5 mm into the skin?

How far do you want it to penetrate? does a microwave oven only penetrate a small distance into the meat it is cooking? Before you try to say "It's the frequency, bear in mind that there are extremely powerful microwave ovens in the 900 MHz range, below your hypothetical 1 GHz source.

I must say this respectfully, you really need to do some research on the effects of EMR on tissue. We already use this effect as a focused medical treatment. And at some frequencies that a lot of people would find surprising. EMR heats tissue. That is as much as fact as it is possible to be.

how is it going to affect you if you don't feel any heat? If it doesn't make your eyeballs frost over, just how strong is the evil effect ?

I suggest instead of silly statements like that, you do a little research on the effects of EMR on tissue.

Or you can remain happy in your ignorance. Because this ends almost being a religious argument. Because you are trying to refute physics with third grade arguments.

The effects may or may not constitute an actual problem. But that does not mean that the effects aren't there.

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#42818809)

I work in neurology research at a university- so far, the jury (data) hasn't decided yet. Increases in cellular calcium ion channel activity result from exposure to EMF. This includes L-type calcium channels in neurons.

Does that also happen if you go outside in daylight? How much activity do you see in daylight relative to a cellphone?

Re:Snake oil again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42827619)

Ummmm not a whole lot makes it through your skull to effect a direct impact on CNS tissue.

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828053)

"No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people."

So what you are trying ot say is that most people are stupid, so cellphone radiation is harmless

This is why it becomes difficult to discuss the subject. It's almost like trying to argue with creationists.

But I get this all the time when trying to discuss the subject. I don't know what the effects are, but when you try to discuss it rationally, you are accused of either being stupid, a liberal, or that I'm wrong because I'm just wrong.

This is a valid argument? I always like to reduce things to a fundamental level

Q. Do cell phones cause cancer?

A. Very unlikely. Only if there is a new and different mechanism. Generally it takes ionizing radation to do this. It is extremely difficult to have any Electromagnetic radiation below far ultraviolet. Note that extremely intense EMR can cause local Ionization. But that is so far beyond the powers we are discussing. Likelyhoood almost nil.

Q. Do Cell phone towers call cancer? A. Even less likely. The Electromagnetic radiation has reached the far field by that point. These levels are not far from background. Your biggest danger is hte tower falling over on you, and that isn't likely either. Q. Does EMR have any effect on human tissue?

A. Yes, at cell phone frequencies, EMR has a localized heating effect.

Q. But the power output is low, how can it do this?

A. You are in what is called the near field, and 2 watts is capable of heating tissue.

Q. But it is not at microwave heating frequencies, so it cannot do this. Microwave heating works because it is at the resonant frequency of water. A. This is incorrect, the resonant frequency of water is in the TeraHertz range. Diathermy units typically wowork in the neighborhood of 27 MHz. There are also ovens that work at other frequencies, such as around 900 MHz. Q. But the body will automatically change the temperature of the affected area, and spread the increase along tha entire body.

A. Diathermy units show us that is not true. The temperature increase can be focused and localized.

Q. So what does this all mean?

A. We do not know yet. The problem with studies is the extreme variability in usage. Smartphone useage for instance, tends to be with the phone held away from the head, so the radiation hazard is much less. The same with people who mainly text.

Anyhow, Feel free to deny, and refute anything I've written. Simply saing No, it cannot happen, might just make the denier a lot closer to the position that they call other people.

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year and a half ago | (#42831869)

"No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people."

So what you are trying ot say is that most people are stupid, so cellphone radiation is harmless

Uh, no, you inferred that all on your own, presumably because you take an unpopular position in this debate, and therefore every mention is seen as either support or an attack.

What I'm trying to say is that nobody ever lost money betting on the fact that most people are stupid, and I stand by it.

Re:Snake oil again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42814533)

I'd be interested to see if there were any non-industry funded long term studies done with cell phone use and incidents of cancer. My guess is there probably aren't any because there would be no funding and if you found that it did cause cancer then you'd be ostracized as a quack the rest of your short career.

The industry has no need for these studies because they already lobbied the government decades ago to stop people from questioning if it is healthy.

Re:Snake oil again? (2)

smegfault (2001252) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814655)

Obligatory XKCD reference [xkcd.com] OT, it depends on what your definition of "long term" is. Regardless of the provenance of the funding, such long term epidemiological studies are a huge can of worms due to the stupendous number of confounding variables. How would you, for instance, correct for the a) improved methods for (early) detection of cancer and b) our improved ways to fight cancer?

This is the same problem we have with long term studies in the field of e.g. nutrition and probably the cause of all the contradictory 'findings'.

People fearing 'radiation' from cell phones should disconnect from the grid and stay inside, out of the sun with its nasty radiation, with sealed windows in a radon-proof suit. And then dodge high-energy particles from space, too.

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815821)

The XKCD reference is a very old "form factor" joke that pre-dates the internet. Unfortunately a large number of laymen in the press and politics are the real butt of that joke, it is not a serious critisizim of how epidemiology is practised in the real world.

Re:Snake oil again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42816707)

Or practiced. But the point stands.

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

smegfault (2001252) | about a year and a half ago | (#42816785)

I didn't mean to imply that it was a criticism of epidemiological studies; the comic is pretty on-original-topic.

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | about a year and a half ago | (#42816857)

How would you even correct for the changes in technology over time?

Maybe early cell phones did have problems but those giant analog things are also gone. The point is that it would no longer matter if you could figure out that a piece of technology that has been dead for more than 10 years could cause problems if anyone wanted to go to a museum and get one again.

The point is that this kind of study would be basically impossible to do long term since you would have to a group of people that stay with the same cellphone technology for a very very long time. In another 10 years the things called cell phones will have little resemblance to what we have now and will likely be another order of magnitude lower energy usage.

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#42816903)

Obligatory XKCD reference [xkcd.com] OT, it depends on what your definition of "long term" is. Regardless of the provenance of the funding, such long term epidemiological studies are a huge can of worms due to the stupendous number of confounding variables. How would you, for instance, correct for the a) improved methods for (early) detection of cancer and b) our improved ways to fight cancer?

By comparing people who use cell phones to people who don't use cell phones over the same time period.

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

smegfault (2001252) | about a year and a half ago | (#42816965)

And after you magically correct for all other RF frequencies the control group received over the same time period, you magically assume that the people in the control group are exactly the same and equally likely to contract cancer as the cell phone group, save for the cell phone usage. Genius. Awesome. Can I be a co-author on your paper in the Lancet?

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#42819611)

You asked about the effects of improved methods of detection and treatment. Chronological, regional and economic controls are sufficient to screen out those effects. Now you're throwing in other variables that add a little more complication. What they would be attempting is to establish whether the alleged cause (cell phones) stands out above a background, so they have to measure the background too. Scientists do such studies all the time. Just because you don't understand how they categorize people and behaviors and how they mathematically account for known and suspected risk factors doesn't mean it can't be done. It just means you don't understand. If you really want to know, there are books on these statistical methods at a library near you.

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

smegfault (2001252) | about a year and a half ago | (#42828763)

You asked about the effects of improved methods of detection and treatment.

Those were examples, as the words "for instance" usually implies.

Now you're throwing in other variables that add a little more complication.

Yes, I have plenty more complicating factors up my sleeve. "A little more" is a bit of an understatement. Quick reminder, the human body is in fact quite complicated.

What they would be attempting is to establish whether the alleged cause (cell phones) stands out above a background, so they have to measure the background too.

Sure. This is, however, where it gets messy. I would love to hear your ideas on how to "measure the background" in the your two proposed groups of people who do and don't use cell phones. Also, as a thought experiment: let's do your hopelessly simplified experiment. Group 1 with no cell phone, group 2 with cell phones. Hey, group 1 has overwhelmingly more cancers. Well, that clinches it: cell phones protect against cancer. Or maybe people without cell phones are older and more likely to contract cancers in the first place? Hmmm...

Scientists do such studies all the time.

Actually, no. They can only reliably measure (or retrospectively infer) a finite number of suspected background variables. But if you know of any decently performed prospective cohort or case-control studies that reliably (i.e., not based on retrospective self-report) measured cell phone usage and 'background' as you call it, I'd like to know.

Just because you don't understand how they categorize people and behaviors and how they mathematically account for known and suspected risk factors doesn't mean it can't be done. It just means you don't understand. If you really want to know, there are books on these statistical methods at a library near you.

Your ad hominem breaks down to: "It's really easy. They just use science to solve all the problems, and you don't understand that."

To return the ad hominem; I think it's you who needs a bit of education in the field of basic biomedical science and particularly epidemiology, cohort studies and the statistical handling of confounders, bias and effect modification.

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about a year and a half ago | (#42840461)

To return the ad hominem; I think it's you who needs a bit of education in the field of basic biomedical science and particularly epidemiology, cohort studies and the statistical handling of confounders, bias and effect modification.

The test case, as you note, is extremely complicated. Background doses, types of useage. Some people text - a lot less EMR that way, as power falls off as the inverse square of the distance, some use the smartphone features, and others keep that phone placed 8 inches in front of the face, others against the ear.

There are multiple ethical issues also. Liability is a big problem.

At this point, we'll probably be seeing most studies done on cellular level - pun intended...., although there have been tests of similar nature done on rabbits. Regardless, cell phone usage is here to stay.

So the fellow you are arguing with doesn't raise a point for a scientific test, but a more empirical observational one. As a related example, I had a book from the 1870's that in part discusses tobacco use. It has every single problem that tobacco uses causes, cancer, emphysema, oral cancer, stomach cancer, pretty comprehensive. Note a number of different ailments were called consumption at that time. But it was almost a century later that it was "proven" to cause cancer.

My point is that we are embarking on an experiment, and we can all hope that there is absolutely no effect of that near-field RF, or perhaps even a beneficial one. But if past history is any indicator, it will be a very long time before there is any resolution to the matter.

If people start having physical problems, and there seems to be an empirical connection, there will be studies, and there will be pushback if any problem is shown. This is how things work their way out, we work on the back end, not the front end. Human nature. This matter will not be resolved to either side's satisfaction in our lifetimes. And given that I know people who still say that tobacco is perfectly harmless, I'll say I think that there are people who will never be satisfied on any side.

Rule of thumb is if a person thinks that it is not possible to have any physical effect from EMR from cell phones, and then fine don't worry, you will never get sick from it. If a person believes that the EMR will bore a hole in your head, make your dog run away, and cause your milch cows to dry up, then don't use one.

Re:Snake oil again? (2, Informative)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about a year and a half ago | (#42816137)

I'd be interested to see if there were any non-industry funded long term studies done with cell phone use and incidents of cancer. My guess is there probably aren't any because there would be no funding and if you found that it did cause cancer then you'd be ostracized as a quack the rest of your short career..

All anti-Industry paranoia aside, the re have been studies done on the effects of cell phones. And there have been some effects found.

The problem is that everyone here in America focuses on Cancer. That is really the single least likely effect of cell phone use. Cell phone electromagnetic radiation is not ionizing radiation, the type of radiation that we know can cause cancer.

Of more interest is the frequencies in use. especially the higher frequencies. 1.8-1.9 GHz, and 2.1 GHz. This is very near the frequencies used in microwave cooking, typically around 2.45 GHz, or some indusrial applications around 915 MHz. Note that the explanation often given that microwave heating is caused by a frequency in resonanace with water molecules is incorrect. That frequency is actually over 1 THz. This is heating via RF, not any resonance.

So this is the background. The phones are little microwave producing machines.

So now we have these little devices putting out around 2 watts maximum. And we are holding them in their near field, which is to say we're getting about their whole output, whatever it is at the time. (note: the strength fall off as the inverse square of the distance from the radiating device).The specific power output is adjusted automatically (ever notice how your battery life is significantly less when you are in a pooer reception area?) So there is possiblility of thermal heating effects. Cataracts are a possibility. I claim no cause/effect, because it is a sample of 1, but my S.O. has a cataract in her eye on the side that she uses her phone. And she spends hours a day on the phone. And she is very young to be having a cataract under any circumstances.

Thermal effects are indisputable, but do they mean anything?

There have been other effects measured, such as localized glucose metabolism in the area of the brain adjacent to the cell phone. It is not clear if this is significant or not. And some effects have been reported that have not been reproduced yet.

Personally, I think that the cataract issue might be a possibility, but am biased on that one. I semi-seriously jest that extended cell phone use makes people temporarily stupid. I also limit my cell phone use, actually a desirable thing in my opinion.

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

smegfault (2001252) | about a year and a half ago | (#42816873)

All anti-Industry paranoia aside, the re have been studies done on the effects of cell phones. And there have been some effects found.

Yes, some very seriously methodologically flawed and/or underpowered studies.

So this is the background. The phones are little microwave producing machines.

If you're focussing on the 'microwave' part (meaning microwave as in the beeping machine we have in our kitchens): this is only true for the phones that have WiFi. Not for the traditional GSM-bands that have been in use the longest (900-1800MHz as opposed to 2.4GHz).

So now we have these little devices putting out around 2 watts maximum. And we are holding them in their near field, which is to say we're getting about their whole output, whatever it is at the time.

If your body would soak up "their whole output" your reception would be ZERO.

So there is possiblility of thermal heating effects.

Have you walked in the sun recently? Looked at a light bulb?

Cataracts are a possibility. I claim no cause/effect, because it is a sample of 1, but my S.O. has a cataract in her eye on the side that she uses her phone. And she spends hours a day on the phone. And she is very young to be having a cataract under any circumstances.

1 out of 4,500 children have cataracts and the incidence goes up with age, so it's not that rare.

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | about a year and a half ago | (#42816887)

On the other hand since your body is mostly water you can absorb a LOT of energy.

So long as your energy transfer rate with conduction and convection in an area are higher than your heating from radiation due to the cellphone you won't have any heating in the surrounding area. From what I can find human skin has a thermal conductivity about .37 W/(m K). That should easily be enough to keep up with a cellphone and that is without convection which is much higher.

I just don't see how a cell phone can physically heat you up.

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

sco08y (615665) | about a year and a half ago | (#42818185)

That should easily be enough to keep up with a cellphone and that is without convection which is much higher.

Not just convection, but blood flow. The human body is liquid cooled, which is an incredibly efficient way to regulate heat.

Thermal energy is not the thing to look at. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42817505)

I don't know why I bother at this point.

Those who have decided to stop thinking and looking because they don't want to deal with the work it might represent in adjusting to a new cell phone reduced lifestyle are going to spin whatever bullshit is necessary to stay in their comfort zones. Denial is easy. Truth is hard.

What's the truth?

It's not about ionizing radiation.

It's about harmonic resonance and what the nervous system does when you energize bits of it at certain frequencies. Switches, even biological ones, don't have to burn to change state. And what are those states? What do they do?

Contrary to the geek zeitgeist on the matter, there is in fact a lot of science available which looks at that question, and the answers are the kind which cause funding to be yanked careers to be smeared. Or which is just plain ignored because it doesn't jive with popular herd think.

But whatever. Nobody who hasn't looked at this point is going to change. Stupid is as stupid does, and keeps on doing.

People can go tell themselves that they're right, repeat a bunch of spurious mantra arguments which don't address the matter, and having won the argument in their heads and calmed themselves down, go play their angry birds to shut off any remote possibility of further unhappy thinking with a nice dopamine rush.

Losers, all.

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

mjwx (966435) | about a year and a half ago | (#42817575)

The problem is that everyone here in America focuses on Cancer. That is really the single least likely effect of cell phone use. Cell phone electromagnetic radiation is not ionizing radiation, the type of radiation that we know can cause cancer.

This, people cant tell the difference between non-ionising "radio" radiation and ionising "cancer" radiation.

The worry warts will stress out about mobile phones and WiFi's harmless non-ionising radiation but are happy to remain completely oblivious to the larger than normal dose of cancer causing gamma rays* they get taking a flight.

* which is well within the acceptable limits of the amount of radiation the average person should receive per year. So again, nothing to worry about. Someone can post the XKCD radiation source comparison chart... I cant be arsed.

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#42818839)

Thermal effects are indisputable, but do they mean anything?

Compared to going outside on a sunny day?

Or doing some exercise?

No. A cellphone pales into insignificance compared to those two.

(And there's plenty more - what about evil central heating systems??)

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about a year and a half ago | (#42822767)

Thermal effects are indisputable, but do they mean anything?

Compared to going outside on a sunny day?

Or doing some exercise?

No. A cellphone pales into insignificance compared to those two.

(And there's plenty more - what about evil central heating systems??)

Comparing celll phone radiation to central heating systems certainly shows some ignorance of RF effects. Using that logic, you might as well argue that microwave ovens cant hurt you because we don't cook in the sun either. I do not know whether or not there is along term health issue. I had hoped that I had conveyed that in my earlier post, but people who don't believe that there is any possiblity don't really want to hear anything else, and will immediately assume that a person who is not with them is agin them, so to speak.

Are you seriously arguing that? Here is what I propose to people who simply know that cell phone electromagnetic radiation is harmless

Show the courage of your convictions. Take a cell phone frequency of your choice. Make a nice little oscillator 2 watts output power, at the cell phone frequency of your choice. Now make a little antenna, and tape it to your head right by your ear. Wear it 24/7 for a couple years.

Even better, since you know it has no effect, do the same with your children. After several years, you will have proven that cell phone radiation is harmless, and will have done humanity a great service.

Re:Snake oil again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42819093)

"So this is the background. The phones are little microwave producing machines."

Not exactly. Microwave is by definition in the GHz range, cellphones typically operate in the MHz range.
Because of the lower frequency cellphone signals are not nearly as energetic as microwaves (and would not be useful for heating food).
In addition, cellphone output power is much lower than of that of microwave ovens.

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

Ol Olsoc (1175323) | about a year and a half ago | (#42822811)

"So this is the background. The phones are little microwave producing machines."

Not exactly. Microwave is by definition in the GHz range, cellphones typically operate in the MHz range.

Depends on the definition. Broadly speaking Microwaves run from arond 300 MHz to several hundred GHz. I just used the term because the frequencies overlap between the broad definition and the Electrical engineering definition. It doesn't really matter which definition you use, because all the frequencies in that range heat.

Because of the lower frequency cellphone signals are not nearly as energetic as microwaves (and would not be useful for heating food).

You might want to let these guys know: 915 MHZ ovens

http://www.industrialmicrowave.com/ [industrialmicrowave.com]

The thing is, it appears that a lot of slashdot users seem to think that you have to be at home microwave oven frequencies, or you can't heat stuff. In addition, there is an apparent consensus among some that induced heat is always evenly distributed. Neither are correct

http://www.uihealthcare.com/topics/sportsmedicine/spor3327.html [uihealthcare.com]

Most commercial diathermy machines in the US run at 27.33 MHz, and heat very effectively and are highly localized.

In addition, cellphone output power is much lower than of that of microwave ovens.

And that is the thing. Does this low power - up to two watts - have an effect? I don't know. But judging from the responses of a lot of slashdotters, they would appear to believe that it is impossible. To the point of making arguments that prove they don't know what they are talking about. That plus wanting to turn anyone who thinks that it is not impossible into a anti technology idiot is just wrong.

It is not impossible. Electromagnetic radiation can and does have heating effects, they are not all at microwave oven frequencies, and they can be extremely localized. The big question is the power level. Some people have faith that it doesn't. Use them, or don't.

Re:Snake oil again? (3, Interesting)

DigiShaman (671371) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814691)

The asians have been selling anti-radiation maternity cloths for years now. My wife purchased one herself. Surprisingly, they work...at blocking cell reception at least. I tested it out with two cell phones. Both had full bars. As soon as I covered one of the phones all the way around, the signal dropped. It was instant and the test could be repeated over and over again. So the clothes do was they're advertised to do. The question is, does it really impact the safety of fetal development? Doubt it. But there you go.

http://www.amazon.com/Radiation-Maternity-Preganat-Protection-Shielding/dp/B0053ZPB6U [amazon.com]

Re:Snake oil again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42817491)

Now your child is going to be extra sensitive to radiation when he or she is born, being that he didn't get exposure to it before birth.

Re:Snake oil again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42820383)

(and this post is a joke BTW)

Re:Snake oil again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42819557)

At least it makes you untrackable if you put your phone in the pocket.

Re:Snake oil again? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42817319)

By reading the summary, it would seem that the company is using "magic crystal" type people to build a free, real, coverage map. I think it may be dishonest unless they explain that they are giving you a magic crystal in exchange for your participation in this data gathering but I can see this being an effective way to retrieve real data.

Re:Snake oil again? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#42820483)

It's not snake oil ... they're leveraging the existing fear of emissions from cell phones to get paranoid people to help them map cell phone coverage.

If you're interested in this app, you already believe it's harmful -- it's just that the end goal is to use the crazies to map out the cell phone coverage, and that's where the money is.

Its crowd-sourcing by using people's own fears -- and they'll be happy to know how to minimize their exposure.

I'ts actually kind of funny, and it's like saying "well, if the herd is already spooked, we can glean some other interesting information out of this based on what they do next".

Would I buy this app? Nope. Do I think they're doing anything shady? Well, not without the people buying into the belief in the first place.

Banned from Apple? (0, Troll)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814233)

Heh. That's not radiation! Those are "Genius Waves" being broadcasted directly to you from God-Emperor Jobs interred in Holy Cupertino on the golden throne!

Re:Banned from Apple? (3, Informative)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814559)

I'd imagine it's "banned" for the same reason as wardriving apps: because they use undocumented calls to get low level info from the radios. It sounds like they appealed to Jobs himself, but he turned them down. I can't really blame him, as the app's two functions seem to be (a) scare you with BS and (b) spy on you.

App Store restrictions are a bit annoying, but less annoying than having to run an antivirus program on your phone. Power users can, at least, jailbreak.

Re:Banned from Apple? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42814729)

App Store restrictions are a bit annoying, but less annoying than having to run an antivirus program on your phone.

Have you used a mobile antivirus program? I have one from one of the common PC vendors, and all it does is take a second or two to scan an app when you install/update it, and scan the phone for a few seconds once a week. It hasn't had any remotely noticeable impact on speed, booting or battery life. I could go on a shill-like listing of the little utility features it adds, but the anti-theft/location built into it is worth mentioning.

Re:Banned from Apple? (0)

Microlith (54737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815077)

Power users can, at least, jailbreak.

I wish people would stop saying this. Rather, it should be "Power users can use something other than iOS devices." Apple does not want power users, particularly not those who would jailbreak as evidence by their recent push to have jailbreaking covered by the DMCA (and their success on Tablets) and increasingly aggressive efforts towards total lock down.

Jailbreaking is not a solution. The solution is using products from a vendor that doesn't treat you like a leper.

Re:Banned from Apple? (1)

hsmith (818216) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815357)

More simple than that - you can't publish Apps that make Apples' hardware look bad. Period.

Re:Banned from Apple? (1)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about a year and a half ago | (#42820979)

I figured, given the kind of language and methodology they teach the worker drones at the Apple stores per that leaked document that came out a while ago, that it was just a matter of making iPhones look bad, so they disallowed it.

You will be hearing from Games Workshop's lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42821199)

God-Emperor and golden throne are "Intellectual Property" as trademarks associated with Whorehammer 40,000 and you will be punished for your unauthorized use of them.

Trojan horse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42814299)

This lets concerned users [do something] — but it also gives Tawkon [something else alongside], which is the real asset it is monetizing

Just like browser search toolbars tracking website visits or the smiley-keystroke things that Google Chrome has taught me to fear.

Re:Trojan horse (3, Funny)

LordLucless (582312) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814539)

It's not a Trojan Horse if you leave a note on the side saying: "This horse is full of armed Greek warriors. By bringing this horse into your city, you also agree to allow said warriors to kill and pillage any and all occupants of the afore-mentioned city". Either that, or the Trojans just didn't have good lawyers.

Re:Trojan horse (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42818661)

Literacy levels in Troy at the time were...?
Modern angle on this: who reads all the T&Cs and *understands* them fully ?

Wasn't there some Brit who researched and found Tr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42840641)

Wasn't there some Brit who researched the "Trojan Horse"
and eventually came to the conclusion that it was really Poseidon that was meant,
or rather that Poseidon represented an Earthquake that had taken down the wall of Troy?

( and he lamented how much damage
the early archeology work had done to the record,
which ALL archeology seems to do... )

Jailbreak vs Unlock (4, Informative)

retaj (1020999) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814455)

The summary should say "jailbroken iPhones" instead of "unlocked iPhones". Jailbreaking allows unauthorized apps, unlocking allows SIM freedom.

Re:Jailbreak vs Unlock (4, Funny)

gnasher719 (869701) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814489)

The summary should say "jailbroken iPhones" instead of "unlocked iPhones". Jailbreaking allows unauthorized apps, unlocking allows SIM freedom.

If you want to be guaranteed radiation free, you could by a broken iPhone instead of a jailbroken one. Just remove the battery, and you can hold it to year head and talk into it as much as you like.

You'll have to talk a bit louder so that the person you are calling hears you.

Re:Jailbreak vs Unlock (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42815305)

Are you sure there aren't any radiation from an unpowered phone? I've been holding bananas to my head for years now and apparently I've been getting radiation from them.

Re:Jailbreak vs Unlock (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year and a half ago | (#42820119)

You'll have to talk a bit louder so that the person you are calling hears you.

Just tie a piece of string between the two phones. I'm sure there's an app for that.

Re:Jailbreak vs Unlock (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814823)

Jailbreaking allows app freedom, unlocking allows SIM freedom.

FTFY

Re:Jailbreak vs Unlock (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about a year and a half ago | (#42819017)

But this "jailbreaking" term is tiring, it's in effect a pedantic and not so subtle way of boasting about owning an iphone.

Think of the Children (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42814545)

I love the masses of people that get up in arms about irritating children every time that they want to build a cell tower. These same parents are perfectly fine with giving their children devices with transmitters to hold an inch from their brain, but a tower 1/4 mile away will give everybody cancer and must be stopped.

Re:Think of the Children (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about a year and a half ago | (#42820181)

I love the masses of people that get up in arms about irritating children every time that they want to build a cell tower. These same parents are perfectly fine with giving their children devices with transmitters to hold an inch from their brain, but a tower 1/4 mile away will give everybody cancer and must be stopped.

To be fair, I'm sure the output of the tower is a bit more than one mobile phone, and yes I do know about the inverse square law.

interesting typo in TFA (1)

BenSchuarmer (922752) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814555)

"Apple, which refused to hose the software, "

Possible carcinogen (1)

Moses48 (1849872) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814569)

This site notes that there is no link, but points out the WHO lists it as a "Possible carcinogen". Lets take a look at what else the WHO lists as "Possible carcinogens":

Coffee, dry cleaning, exhaust/gas, pickled vegatables, nickle... to name a few
[source: http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Classification/ClassificationsGroupOrder.pdf%5D [monographs.iarc.fr] 2B is prossible, 2A is probable

Re:Possible carcinogen (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42815545)

Cancer isn't particularly well-understood, and its causes are notoriously difficult to track. There are so many different causes and mechanistic pathways that even gigantic and expensive prospective longitudinal studies have difficulty detecting the effects of individual weak carcinogens.

In one word, spyware (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42814603)

And it's OK because it spies on people with an "unscientific fear"? And we are supposed to find that "valuable" and "of lasting use"?

Very clever (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year and a half ago | (#42814887)

Using stupid people as robots...very smart indeed. The same thing could be done for wifi, or tracking the appearance of contrails. I'm sure there are plenty of possibilities previously unimagined due to insufficient cynicism.

I have to admire his chutzpah... (1)

sirwired (27582) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815031)

I can certainly see the monetary value in producing cell-phone coverage reports. And I have a hard time arguing with this method of collecting it. The user gets information that they find valuable (phone radiation emitted) in return for that information (with PII stripped, one would hope) being used for what the business would like to make money off of.

As long as they aren't actually asserting any conclusions as to the user's health, it's not even particularly misleading.

Definition of "benefit of everyone" (1)

macraig (621737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815533)

"Three benefits for me, one benefit for you...."

Never the idealized equal exchange of value that I was taught in Business Law 101. Nope, we get Highlander-style economics instead.

Re:Definition of "benefit of everyone" (1)

TheP4st (1164315) | about a year and a half ago | (#42816211)

"Three benefits for me, one benefit for you...."

Are you talking about the app or about iPhone? ;-)

Re:Definition of "benefit of everyone" (1)

macraig (621737) | about a year and a half ago | (#42816737)

Maybe both.

Re:Definition of "benefit of everyone" (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year and a half ago | (#42819615)

As long as they are open about selling data about their users, I don't see an ethical problem. Most businesses do the same behind your back.

Tawkon is a pretty useful app (2)

blind biker (1066130) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815643)

Not so much for protecting me from "radiation", but to keep battery consumption low: whenever the signal is weak, the phone compensates by increasing transmitting power, draining the battery in the process. If Tawkon warns me of strong transmitting field, I'll keep the conversation short.

Re:Tawkon is a pretty useful app (1)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | about a year and a half ago | (#42819621)

Well that's brilliant!

Would more coverage be better? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42815783)

Surely for the radiation-phobes, more widespread coverage would reduce the transmission power and hence radiation emitted from the phones?

After all, it's not the cell tower that you're holding against your ear.

Might be on to something. (3, Interesting)

jxander (2605655) | about a year and a half ago | (#42815943)

While the fear mongering and data collection is a bit worrisome, they might actually be on to something here.

It would be very useful to have crowd-sourced maps of cell coverage, speeds, dropped calls, etc... Would certainly make the choice of provider a much more informed decision, instead of relying on their own coverage maps.

Re:Might be on to something. (1)

OpenSignal (2835549) | about a year and a half ago | (#42819215)

We think so! Check out opensignal.com - we already provide crowd-sourced maps of cell coverage and data speeds. Also our app also has nothing to do with radiation, it helps you find local wifi networks and get better phone signal (among other things).

Re:Might be on to something. (1)

Argilo (602972) | about a year and a half ago | (#42821053)

Coverage Mapper [coveragemapper.com] is doing some of what you describe.

FFucking XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42816353)

"A phone will not produced ionizing radiation.... unless, of course, it is a banana phone"

http://xkcd.com/radiation/

Sounds familiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42819619)

www.coveragemapper.com anyone?

ugh (1)

fazey (2806709) | about a year and a half ago | (#42821647)

why yes, please track my movements via my cellphone.

Okay, why is this "news"? (1)

Plumpaquatsch (2701653) | about a year and a half ago | (#42835509)

Quote: Not allowed on iPhone after personal rejection by Steve Jobs

Yeah, this app is that old.

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