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Measuring Microwave Output From A Laptop?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the will-our-laps-start-glowing-anytime-soon dept.

Portables 108

bethorphil asks: "I was shopping online for a laptop today, and as I was choosing my processor speed, I noticed that the clock frequency of a decent CPU (2.4 GHz) was about the same frequency as the radiation used in a microwave oven. This got me thinking about recent headlines of laptop heat causing male infertility. If the heat alone is a threat, It would make sense that holding a 40-watt microwave emitter in your lap could cause even more serious problems down the road. I assume (optimistically, perhaps) that laptops are designed to shield the user from radiation, and not just to protect the system from interference. , but what I'd really like is a way to test for myself how much microwave radiation actually comes from my laptop. So far, the most interesting thing my searches have come up with is this quack-tastic low emission PC, but actual tools for an amateur to measure this stuff seem hard to come by. What's the best way to find out if my laptop is nuking the family jewels?"

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40 watt microwave? (5, Interesting)

dougmc (70836) | more than 9 years ago | (#12970864)

If the heat alone is a threat, It would make sense that holding a 40-watt microwave emitter in your lap could cause even more serious problems down the road.
Yes, you have a 40 watt heater in your lap. But you do NOT have a 40 watt microwave emitter in your lap.

As for how to measure the amount of microwave radiation a laptop emits, that would require special equipment that you are not likely to have at home. But the FCC does put serious limits on the RF that it's allowed to emit. I'll bet the actual microwave RF emitted is under a watt. Probably less than 1/10th of a watt.

Now, if you have WiFi, that will emit about 250 mW of power when it's actively transmitting. Which is a small percentage of the time. But your WiFi card probably does emit more microwave radiation than the rest of the laptop combined ...

As for microwaves causing infertility, that has yet to be really shown.

Re:40 watt microwave? (5, Insightful)

dougmc (70836) | more than 9 years ago | (#12970894)

As for your `Laptops May Threaten Male Fertility' article, if you read it carefully, you'll find that NOWHERE does it say anything about microwaves.

The story is about laptop heat, not microwaves. And sperm are best produced at about 94 degrees F (if memory serves me correctly), which is why the testicles are outside of the body -- so they can be cooler than body temperature.

Anything that raises the temperature of the testicles above that will reduce sperm production -- be it a laptop, living in Texas, wearing tight underwear or a having a cat in your lap. This is well known.

But as far as I know, the effect is temporary. Remove the laptop, move to Alaska, wear boxers, kick the cat off, and sperm production goes back up. But maybe somebody knows something I don't.

Assuming I'm right, just keep the laptop (and cat) out of your lap while you're trying to knock your wife up, and you'll be fine.

Balls... laptops... (1)

abulafia (7826) | more than 9 years ago | (#12970974)

What better slasdot topic can there be? "Imagine a beowulf cluster of DNA emitters which don't overheat..."

Re:40 watt microwave? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12971139)


Poor cat, filled with all that sperm.

Re:40 watt microwave? (1)

sgant (178166) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971286)

What an idiotic system. You would have thought by now they would have built better humans to where males produce sperm INSIDE the body at the normal temperature.

Sheesh, we can put a man on the moon...

Re:40 watt microwave? (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971803)

Hmmm... You are describing the female reproductive system where eggs (not sperm) is produce inside the body at normal temperature. Besides, men need their equipment on the outside to prove their manhood. Otherwise, they would be nothing but sissies. :P

Re:40 watt microwave? (1)

nuggetman (242645) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971973)

IANAOB/GYN... but aren't females born with all their eggs intact?

Re:40 watt microwave? (1)

joFFeman (574971) | more than 9 years ago | (#12972044)

"IANAOB/GYN... but aren't females born with all their eggs intact?"

yes, every egg that passes through a woman's system her entire lifetime is present at birth. when she runs out, menopause takes its toll.

Re:40 watt microwave? (1)

baadger (764884) | more than 9 years ago | (#12973472)

At menopause occurs there are still plenty of good eggs in there...mmm eggs.

Re:40 watt microwave? (1)

joFFeman (574971) | more than 9 years ago | (#12973612)

my late night information sucks. you are correct.

Re:40 watt microwave? (1)

loadedgeek (344328) | more than 9 years ago | (#12976787)

not entirely true new research I remember reading not long ago shows there are some eggs created from stem cells in the ovaries. Too lazy to find the article right now but it was on Sciencedaily

Re:40 watt microwave? (2, Funny)

sgant (178166) | more than 9 years ago | (#12972765)

Also, the entire "Funniest Home Videos" infrastructure would collapse as there would be no more "man getting hit by pinata bat in the groin" or "skateboarder misses rail and falls on his nuts".

The world as we know it would be very different.

Re:40 watt microwave? (2, Insightful)

fireweaver (182346) | more than 9 years ago | (#12973405)

sgant(178166) wrote: "What an idiotic system. You would have thought by now they would have built better humans to where males produce sperm INSIDE the body at the normal temperature."

See, you've just pointed out one of the fallacies of "intelligent design". Any genuinely "intelligent designer" would have done a better job. Period. But I'm sure that the stupids who buy into this bullshit won't hear of it.

Re:40 watt microwave? (1)

Frodo Crockett (861942) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971707)

Assuming I'm right, just keep the laptop (and cat) out of your lap while you're trying to knock your wife up, and you'll be fine.

Good advice. Most women probably would not appreciate attempts to use a laptop while impregnating them, and those cats have sharp claws.

Re:40 watt microwave? (1)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971897)

Assuming I'm right, just keep the laptop (and cat) out of your lap while you're trying to knock your wife up, and you'll be fine.


Given this was posted on Slashdot, don't you think the OP has more to worry about than his sperm? I mean, having a laptop on your lap is a sure-fire way to not get laid in the first place.

I mean, being someone who posts on slashdot is a surefire way to not get laid in the first place.

So, OP, stop worrying about your sperm and start worrying about how many FPS you can get in your fav shooter. Worry about how quickly it will compile the Linux kernel. Worry about how much cool eye candy you can install and still be able to run edlin with acceptable performance.

Most importantly: Worry about how great your new laptop is because if it's not the absolute greatest you won't have bragging rights with your geek friends...

Re:40 watt microwave? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12974934)

That's true, however the converse of this effect is that since warming ones balls is a form of contraception, and that laptop computers are capable of performing this function, it logically follows that, in the situation where you don't want to knock your wife up that you can use this as a justification for spending more time on said laptop. Granted, it's your wife's laptop that should be getting most of the attention but, this is Slashdot.

Re:40 watt microwave? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 9 years ago | (#12978912)

I knew of a guy at Michigan State in the sixties who spent some time before each date sitting naked on a wicker chair with the seat cut out, his scrotum dangling in hot water.

Re:40 watt microwave? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 9 years ago | (#12979269)

I read (many years ago) about an African tribe whose men regularly soaked their balls in hot water. They couldn't explain where the tradition came from (and had no idea how it worked) but it was done for the express purpose of contraception.

The reason they don't want you to know (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 9 years ago | (#12979150)

There's one other major cause of fertility problems, oestrogen like molecules.

There are two key sources for absorbed oestrogen like molecules, pollution [bbc.co.uk] and soya.

A just to make sure you get all the bang for you buck, they also causes birth defects [bbc.co.uk] .

Re:40 watt microwave? (1)

Monte (48723) | more than 9 years ago | (#12970948)

But you do NOT have a 40 watt microwave emitter in your lap.

More's the pity, I'd love to get "Worked All States" while wardriving.

Re:40 watt microwave? (1)

newsblaze (894675) | more than 9 years ago | (#12970966)

Of course, this depends on your particular laptop conforming to the standard. If its way out of tolerance, you can never tell. Check out a search on Medline and you'll see lots of experiments on rats with low-level microwaves, often modulated by a low frequency. It may be too late for you. Your jewels may already be cooked. As suggested above, quickly find a girfiriend and check it out. Be sure to let us know the results. Lets just hope you don't get quadruplets on the first shot.

Re:40 watt microwave? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12971274)

>> As for microwaves causing infertility, that has yet to be really shown

Proven? No, but a turkey-pot-pie never got anyone pregnent.

Re:40 watt microwave? (3, Interesting)

WorthlessProgrammer (895488) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971469)

>But the FCC does put serious limits on the RF
>that it's allowed to emit. I'll bet the actual
>microwave RF emitted is under a watt.
>Probably less than 1/10th of a watt.

Hmmmm... Perhaps you might want to look at CISPR22 or CFR 47 Part 15 (FCC limits on conducted and emitted radiation from (currently) 150kHz to only 1 GHz. Even if below Class A limits, you will be radiating more than 10mW.

>Now, if you have WiFi, that will emit about
>250 mW of power when it's actively
>transmitting. Which is a small percentage
>of the time. But your WiFi card probably
>does emit more microwave radiation than
>the rest of the laptop combined ...

I have tested some USB units that were blessed by some major labs as conforming to EN55022. But I found some test configurations that were twice Class A limits (and that was on a log scale).

Divide those numbers by ten (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 9 years ago | (#12978787)

WiFi transmit power for almost all cards is 25 mW. 100 mW is the max legal limit without using automatic power control measures (reducing power when it's not needed) The max legal limit for WiFi is higher (There are even 1W amps), but 25 mW is the max from almost any laptop, and anything more than 100 mW without an external PA is unheard of. (I know of one card in existence that had transmit power over 100 mW)

And as to stray emissions from the laptop itself - WAY less than the 1/10 W (100 mW) you mentioned, guaranteed. Almost surely less than 1 mW. There's no way the FCC would approve any device that was an interference source with 100 mW transmit power. Hell, 1 mW of unintended emissions is probably not allowed. RF-wise, computers (especially laptops) are very quiet.

Re:Divide those numbers by ten (1)

SillyNickName4me (760022) | more than 9 years ago | (#12980302)

First generation WRT54G from Linksys appears to use a broadcom based pccard for wifi. This card is definitely capable of transmitting at more then 100mw (tho not with the stock firmware)

For that matter, the sitecom (RaLink) based card in my laptop cann be configured to transmit at 100mw with the stock drivers for Windows, and can be configured tot do a bit more when using some of the alternative drivers (on Linux and FreeBSD)

So.. I would say there are cards around that go in laptops that can transmit at over 100mw

Surefire test (4, Funny)

secolactico (519805) | more than 9 years ago | (#12970874)

What's the best way to find out if my laptop is nuking the family jewels?

Breed. If your kids come out with extra limbs, scales-for-skin or superpowers, then it is.

Re:Surefire test (1)

EnderWigginsXenocide (852478) | more than 9 years ago | (#12970944)

Breed you say. He's posting on Slashdot. That's like me telling my pet rock to go into the kitchen and cook itself a meal.

Re:Surefire test (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12971259)

Funny MOD is broken - Use UNDERRATED instead.

And furthermore, don't mod the same stupid jokes as funny over and over again.

Re:Surefire test (1)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971253)

Scales foreskin? Now that might actually be a good shield against microwaves...

Re:Surefire test (1)

Monkelectric (546685) | more than 9 years ago | (#12982951)

Just the fact that he knows that 2.4ghz is in the microwave spectrum makes him an unlikely candidate for breeding.

Re:Surefire test (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12983647)

I for one welcome our multi-limbed, scaled superpower enhanced overlords...

The microwave stays in the chip (3, Interesting)

HotNeedleOfInquiry (598897) | more than 9 years ago | (#12970881)

Most modern high clock frequency CPU's have an internal phase-locked oscillator (in this case 2.4ghz) that's synced to a low-frequency external crystal. The Front Side Bus frequency is about the highest you could detect external to the CPU.

Re:The microwave stays in the chip (1)

Shook18 (878947) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971812)

I was going to mod that post "funny" until I realized that he was serious!

As seen on TV! (5, Funny)

Monte (48723) | more than 9 years ago | (#12970935)

I have a small sticker that when applied to your laptop will block all harmful RF energies!!. But wait! There's more! Apply one to your gas tank and you'll see a 30 horsepower increase!! as well as getting an extra 15 miles per gallon!!

How much would you pay for this small miracle? Three hundred? Two hundred? NO! Today only I am ready to sell you this modern wonder of technology for a mere six payments of $19.99!!!

Act now! Operators are standing by!

Re:As seen on TV! (1)

dheltzel (558802) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971391)

Hey, you forgot to include the 800 number:

1-800-SCAM-NOW

(you really should check this stuff before you hit the post button)

Re:As seen on TV! (1)

sharkey (16670) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971768)

Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I'd like to subscribe to your newsletter.

oblig. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12972790)

My laptop gets forty rods to the hogshead, and that's the way I likes it!

duh (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12970946)

A 40 watt laptop != 40 watt microwave transmitter. Just because it's at a similar frequency doesn't mean it's a full-bore oven. Police radar|some motion detectors|etc uses microwave frequencies but you don't see birds flying through the beam being toasted.

tard

Re:duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12978502)

So what you are saying is that police aint dangerous for your health etc? Not were i come from, no way...

The clock is 2.4Ghz (2, Informative)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 9 years ago | (#12970955)

and might emit a few microwatts at best. The plastic case should stop that. Microwave ovens on the other hand are just a modern RF oven. You dump 800 watts into a cubic foot steel box, something is going to absorb that energy and convert it to heat.

Re:The clock is 2.4Ghz (1)

electrofreak (744993) | more than 9 years ago | (#12972134)

Yeah, especially forks, knives, and spoons.

(Don't try that at home, kids)

Microwave test (4, Interesting)

eagle486 (553102) | more than 9 years ago | (#12970957)

In same safety stores you can buy a plastic card that when held to a microwave will show you the amount of leakage. Just test your laptop with this. But I don't think you will see any microwaves coming from your laptop unless you have wifi card.

Re:Microwave test (1)

orion88 (834423) | more than 9 years ago | (#12975038)

What's a safety store? I don't think I've ever seen one of those. The closest thing I can think of is a hardware store, but those are generally unsafety stores.

I won't worry about the laptop (0)

sonamchauhan (587356) | more than 9 years ago | (#12970959)

I doubt a laptop CPU emits enough microwave radiation to irradiate your gonads. It may run at 2.4 GHz but as I understand it, it emits plain non-microwave heat - the type you get when a resistor is heated by an electric current.

It's well known that heat (hot bath, sauna, etc) causes a drop in male fertility, but it's temporary IIRC. Just don't use a laptop while trying to conceive a child.

Of more concern are studies on microwave cooking that suggest it induces molecular changes to the food that may be harmful to humans: here's a discussion about a Swiss study once subjected to a gag order [mercola.com] . Some label this pseudoscience. However, it's a known fact that the mechanics of microwave cooking are fundamentally different from traditional cooking and can lead to worse nutritional outcomes [wiley.com]

Re:I won't worry about the laptop (1)

Monte (48723) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971222)

I got this far in the article you linked to:

Hertel not only conceived of the study and carried it out, he was one of eight participants. "To control as many variables as possible, we selected eight individuals who were strict macrobiotic diet participants from the Macrobiotic Institute at Kientel, Switzerland," Hertel explained. "We were all housed in the same hotel environment for eight weeks. There was no smoking, no alcohol and no sex." One can readily see that this protocol makes sense. ...and sorta lost interest.

Re:I won't worry about the laptop (3, Informative)

node 3 (115640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971371)

However, it's a known fact that the mechanics of microwave cooking are fundamentally different from traditional cooking

No, it's not. Like all forms of traditional heat-utilizing cooking, you heat up the food at some place, which heats the rest of it.

Frying, baking, boiling, steaming, etc, all work like this. Microwaving, instead of heating the surface of the food, heats all of the water molecules within the food. This is exactly the same as if you had a knob and could change the temperature of the water without changing the rest of the food in any way. Any notion of "nutritional" changes are highly suspect. There's just no reason to believe microwaves, for example, could significantly change the vitamin or mineral content of the food.

Microwaves are non-ionizing radiation. That means, roughly, that they don't knock atoms into pieces, and thus don't break atomic bonds. They just heat up matter, especially water, since water absorbs microwaves so well.

Some label this pseudoscience.

That's because it is. There's no valid scientific observation, and no logical scientific model, to suggest that microwave radiation directly affects the nutrition in food.

Just because microwave ovens seem more magical than a frying pan does not excuse them from the rigors of science or the laws of reality.

Re:I won't worry about the laptop (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12971711)

Actually, microwaves /do/ have more of an effect on the nutritional contents of food, especially vegetables. Traditionally, you cook vegetables in water. Microwaves get the temperature of the vegetables well above what it would be even boiling, and the higher the heat (and the addition of water by itself) means that microwaving vegetables loses more than 95% of the nutrients. Boiling loses about 90% for comparison. Letting it sit in cold or room temperature water loses 80% by itself, before any cooking occurs.

Re:I won't worry about the laptop (4, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971931)

Actually, microwaves /do/ have more of an effect on the nutritional contents of food, especially vegetables.

No, they don't. Microwave radiation does not affect food nutrition.

I wasn't addressing whether boiling or microwaving vegetables are equally healthy. I was addressing microwave radiation.

Re-read the poster I was replying to:

Of more concern ... microwave cooking ... induces molecular changes to the food that may be harmful to humans ... the mechanics of microwave cooking are fundamentally different from traditional cooking

So you bring up numbers (bogus sounding numbers at that*) that say boiling a vegetable is a little worse than setting it in water, and that microwaving it is slightly worse than that. Big deal. It's not magical molecule transforming rays doing it, it's just heat. Same with frying, baking, flame broiling, deep frying, stewing, etc.

In other words, microwaving food is in the same realm as "traditional cooking", contrary to the pseudoscience the poster promoted.

You are bringing up an entirely different point, which is whether microwaving vegetables or boiling vegetables is healthier. Something to ponder, if you really care about a 5% nutrient difference, but entirely separate from the question at hand.

* 80% nutrient loss by setting a vegetable in cold water? Maybe if you mash it up, and set a small portion in a big bucket of water for a few days or something. Or maybe if you place a sliced apple in water for a half hour. How much does deep frying lose? I bet it's more than the supposed 15% in the microwave.

Beyond that, the numbers are too round. Is it 92% for boiling, and 93% for microwave? Or did it actually come out 80%, 90% and 95%? Are you under-boiling, but over-microwaving? What vegetable is it? Etc.

Re:I won't worry about the laptop (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 9 years ago | (#12978769)

It's not magical molecule transforming rays doing it, it's just heat.

Well, I'm not a microwave engineer, but iirc the microwave oven creates standing waves of microwaves within the "cooking cavity" (for want of a better term). These standing waves induce water molecules in the substance being heated to oscillate, thus heating it.

So yes, it is just heat, but the method of transferring the energy to the thing being heated is unique amongst cooking methods.

Incidentally, it's this that is repsonsible for uneven heating, and why you should stir things and/or leave them to stand - the wavelength of microwaves is on the order of centimetres, so the nodes of the standing waves generated are a centimetre or two apart. At the node, very little or no heating occurs, as no oscillation is induced. Thus you have to stir the thing or leave it to stand to even out the heating.

Finally, intense enough EM radiation can cause ionisation of the substances it passes through, but at microwave energies any such ionisationwill be utterly insignificant, if it occurs at all.

Re:I won't worry about the laptop (1)

hubie (108345) | more than 9 years ago | (#12982752)

There is a nice little experiment [umd.edu] where you can measure the speed of light using your microwave oven and a dish of marshmallows (it makes use of the uneven heating you describe).

Science: fun and delicious!

Re:I won't worry about the laptop (1)

Trepalium (109107) | more than 9 years ago | (#12972032)

Microwaving, instead of heating the surface of the food, heats all of the water molecules within the food. This is exactly the same as if you had a knob and could change the temperature of the water without changing the rest of the food in any way.
This isn't completely true. Microwaves can heat fat and sugars quite effectively, as well.
That means, roughly, that they don't knock atoms into pieces, and thus don't break atomic bonds. They just heat up matter, especially water, since water absorbs microwaves so well.
True, however, the rapid, high heat that microwaving can cause can cause chemical reactions in the food (conventional cooking does, as well). This effect is made worse by the fact that most microwaves can not provide evenly dispersed "heat" to the chamber. All cooking is about breaking down certain chemicals via heat, and creating new ones. Because of the different way microwaves do it, it produces different results than conventional cooking (and different tastes).

That's because it is. There's no valid scientific observation, and no logical scientific model, to suggest that microwave radiation directly affects the nutrition in food.
I'd agree that the sites he posted are pseudoscience, however I'd disagree with you on the second part. The difference between microwave heating and conductive heating is significant, and could quite easily affect the nutrition of the food (for good, or bad). It deserves study, but from people without an agenda they want to further (such as the "modern food processing is poison" agenda of that study).

Re:I won't worry about the laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12972163)

Would you mix gasoline with your food? Then why would you cook over a gas flame?

Would you touch a live electrical wire? Then why would you want to cook over an electric range?

Use safe, natural microwaves. Since the late 1950's, giant microwave radar units (the DEW LINE system) have been sending enormous streams of microwaves through every person in the US. As one can readily see, the effects of this are completely harmless. The rise in certain rare cancers over the same period is almost certainly coincidental.

Re:I won't worry about the laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12972729)

haha. Well, I guess you'll be safe as long as you don't plan on sitting around inside your microwave oven while it's on.

Re:I won't worry about the laptop (1)

node 3 (115640) | more than 9 years ago | (#12972676)

True, however, the rapid, high heat that microwaving can cause can cause chemical reactions in the food (conventional cooking does, as well).

Exactly.

The question at hand is whether microwaves do something unnatural to food, as compared to "traditional cooking".

They don't. Yes, microwaving food is unique in the "signature" it leaves, but so it steaming, boiling, broiling, frying, baking, etc. It's fully in that same realm. It's *not* in the magical and scary realm that the original poster placed it.

The actual microwaves themselves do nothing except heat up the molecules that best absorb them. Beyond that, it's the normal mechanics of cooking--you heat something, and it heats the somethings around it, and the food cooks.

This isn't a debate on whether microwaved food tastes better than fried food, or whether it's healthier than steamed food, it's whether microwaving is the same basic process as the whole of "traditional cooking", which it is.

I suspect you are missing the context. You (I think) are trying to point out that the original poster's point that, "microwave cooking ... induces molecular changes to the food that may be harmful to humans" is, in fact, true. The problem is that the context is compared to "traditional cooking".

That cooking food (including microwave cooking) changes the molecules is not in question. That microwave radiation does evil, non-natural things to food is.

Re:I won't worry about the laptop (1)

Trepalium (109107) | more than 9 years ago | (#12978271)

I know. I was being a little nit-picky since you said that microwave cooking doesn't "break atomic bonds". There's always some luddites/technophobes out there that think every new technology is killing them. Unfortunately some of them are students of Science, and can wrap their paranoia in plausible language. It then gets repeated until these myths turn into well known "facts" in public opinion.

On the other hand, there is evidence that more mundane cooking methods are more dangerous. Barbecuing meats or any other organic matter [newhousenews.com] can create benzopyrene [wikipedia.org] which is a potent mutagen and carcinogen. Even burning toast (like in a toaster) has been found to produce the dangerous chemical. Now, none of the scientists involved in these studies are telling people to stop grilling food, and stop having burnt toast for breakfast. Of course, some groups have taken those results and used them to further their agendas. I've seen a repeated claim that a grilled steak contains as much benzopyrene as 300 cigarettes (which is supposed to make you believe that a grilled steak is as dangerous as 300 cigarettes, except the soundbite never mentions that cigarettes contain many other toxins and carcinogens [hc-sc.gc.ca] ). While it's strictly true, it's neither useful, or helpful.

Even vegetables that are cooked to higher than 120 degrees Celcius can form the carcinogen acrylamide. [hc-sc.gc.ca] No one calls for us to renounce bread, nuts, french fries, and coffee. At least I didn't find any immediate results for that (I guess militant vegans [as opposed to the sane ones who can accept other people's food preferences] aren't eager to lose some of the few foods they are willing to eat).

Now, microwave cooking can not cause the first toxin to form (because it requires incomplete burning of fat and oils at 300 to 600 degrees C), and it's unlikely that it can cause the second to form either (deep frying and roasting tend to cause it). That must make microwaves safer than conventional cooking, right. :-P

I WOULD worry about the laptop (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | more than 9 years ago | (#12978795)

> > However, it's a known fact that the mechanics of microwave cooking
> > are fundamentally different from traditional cooking

> No, it's not. Like all forms of traditional heat-utilizing cooking,
> you heat up the food at some place, which heats the rest of it.

You are wrong.

When I cook something in normal fashion, I can be sure that the temperature of the food is BELOW the temperature of my heat source - the grill, open fire, oven, steam, etc. Not so with microwave cooking - I can't reliably estimate temperatures reached within the food. Certain parts of the food can reach temperatures never attained in normal cooking (since the food as a whole would be destroyed at those temperatures.) Localized reactions can generate harmful compounds at such temperatures, which would be masked by the taste of the bulk of the food.

If you think this cannot happen, that's just an article of your blind faith. As for me, I know the cheese in my pizza tastes funny when I reheat it in a microwave.

And that's just the thermal effects of microwave radition. There is growing body of evidence for non-thermal effects: see interesting opinion here [macopinion.com] and a summary mention here [organic-chemistry.org] that says: It is clear, though, that nonthermal effects do play a role in some reactions.

Actually, having brushed up on my reading, let me correct the subject of my thread - I WOULD worry about the laptop, but perhaps more on where the built wifi antenna is positioned.

Re:I WOULD worry about the laptop (1)

jackbird (721605) | more than 9 years ago | (#12983174)

When I cook something in normal fashion, I can be sure that the temperature of the food is BELOW the temperature of my heat source

The temperature of your flame is much, much higher than you will ever attain in a microwave.

Certain parts of the food can reach temperatures never attained in normal cooking

Consider this: Why can't you brown foods in a microwave without special equipment? The answer is that the temperature is limited by the boiling point of water (as with steaming/boiling/poaching/etc.). Browning takes place at significantly higher temeratures (between 300 and 400 F IIRC), and all sorts of things are formed as a result.

Your cheese tasting funny is irrelevant to this discussion.

Re:I WOULD worry about the laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12983620)

Consider this: Why can't you brown foods in a microwave without special equipment?

While it's quite easy to blacken and burn food from the inside out, or even make it burst into flames, that elusive trick of giving your food a gentle surface browning with a microwave oven will definitely require special equipment - to absorb the RF and transform it to heat in a more controllable manner, external to the food, which then gets applied to the surface of the food in the form of conventional heat for that browning effect.

The temperature of your flame is much, much higher than you will ever attain in a microwave.

Wrong!

Try putting a single sliced grape in your microwave, and then try telling me that the blinding fiery arcs of electrified plasma are somehow below the boiling point of water.

http://c3po.barnesos.net/homepage/lpl/grapeplasma/ [barnesos.net]

It's a plasma arc, for crying out loud! How hot is that?

The main thing to realize is that more than just heat is involved. High voltages and powerful electric currents also pass through the food, affecting its chemical nature.

Try actually eating a grape that's been microwaved as per the above URL, and then consider how much microwave radiation you want your gonads exposed to.

Re:I WOULD worry about the laptop (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | more than 9 years ago | (#12984293)

Thanks - very interesting post AC: echoing your post below as it isn't modded up....

-------------
Re:I WOULD worry about the laptop (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 05, @06:41PM (#12983620)

> Consider this: Why can't you brown foods in a microwave without special equipment?

While it's quite easy to blacken and burn food from the inside out, or even make it burst into flames, that elusive trick of giving your food a gentle surface browning with a microwave oven will definitely require special equipment - to absorb the RF and transform it to heat in a more controllable manner, external to the food, which then gets applied to the surface of the food in the form of conventional heat for that browning effect.

> The temperature of your flame is much, much higher than you will ever attain in a microwave.

Wrong!

Try putting a single sliced grape in your microwave, and then try telling me that the blinding fiery arcs of electrified plasma are somehow below the boiling point of water.

http://c3po.barnesos.net/homepage/lpl/grapeplasma/ [barnesos.net]

It's a plasma arc, for crying out loud! How hot is that?

The main thing to realize is that more than just heat is involved. High voltages and powerful electric currents also pass through the food, affecting its chemical nature.

Try actually eating a grape that's been microwaved as per the above URL, and then consider how much microwave radiation you want your gonads exposed to.

Re:I WOULD worry about the laptop (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | more than 9 years ago | (#12984539)

Are you wilfully keeping yourself from understanding? Let me repeat - certain points in microwaved food may reach temperatures never reached outside (i.e. hotspots) - you have no simple way of telling. Contrast this to conventional cooking, where there is a straightfoward upper bound on temperature that _no_ part of the food will ever cross.

> The temperature of your flame is much, much higher than you will ever attain in a microwave.

No, wrong

Take a look here: a domestic microwave oven can be used to melt metal at 1000 degrees Celsius [c2i.net] .

Take look at the other interesting reply to you by an AC that I echoed - he claims a plain grape generates a plasma.

Take a look at this paper: it describes a witches brew of "oil fractions produced by microwave-assisted pyrolysis of different sewage sludges" [nih.gov] . Interestingly, it describes different products formed when heating the sewage conventionally, v/s heating in a microwave. Why? A webpage on their research [spectroscopynow.com] also states "800-1000C to be attained with microwave power of 1 kW and frequency of 2450 MHz." - the same power level available in many home microwaves.

My mentioning microwaved cheese tasting funny IS pertinent to this discussion. The funny taste may indicate high temperature products formed during microwaving, but not formed when cooking pizza in a normal oven (Consider: by definition, cheese in a normal over goes through the entire range of temperature - from room temperature, to oven temperature - yet microwaved cheeese tastes different - why?)

Re:I WOULD worry about the laptop (1)

jackbird (721605) | more than 9 years ago | (#12984568)

The funny taste may indicate

Reheat your pizza in a steamer and get back to me.

Re:I WOULD worry about the laptop (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | more than 9 years ago | (#12984586)

comprehend the rest of my points, and get back to me.

Actually it is well established that B12 is lost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12986649)

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd= Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=10554220&dopt=Abstrac t [nih.gov]

Many properly conducted studies have shown that Microwave cooking destroys Vitamin B12 which is important to combat stress and a lack of it causes lassitude and depression.

As Microwaves cook food faster, they generally retain more vitamins than traditional methods - except for vitamins of the B group.

Microwave cooking is different from Infrared cooking.

Good article on microwaves and food (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12972089)

http://www.cspinet.org/nah/04_05/microwavemyths.pd f [cspinet.org]

This was in the "Nutrition Action Health Letter" from the Center for Science in the Public Interest a few months ago. Its a very reputable publication (I recommend a subscription for anyone that tries to eat healthy).

Re:I won't worry about the laptop (1)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 9 years ago | (#12972173)

Did you read the articles you're using as evidence?

After all, how could you tell about subtle changes in a human's blood from eating microwaved food if smoking, booze, junk food, pollution, pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and everything else in the common environment were also present?

In other words: the study was very theoretical, and environmental factors affect humans much more than anything a microwave can do to the food.

That's why there was a gag order against slander. The study wasn't meaningful and was just fearmongering. If there was any real meaning, they could've used the truth defense against slander in half a second and gotten the gag order lifted.

"High-pressure boiling, low-pressure boiling (conventional), steaming and microwaving were the four domestic cooking processes used in this work . . . . [W]e can conclude that a greater quantity of phenolic compounds will be provided by consumption of steamed broccoli as compared with broccoli prepared by other cooking processes."

So the only process that's significantly different is steaming. That means that microwaving is as bad as boiling. Is boiling now somehow "fundamentally different from traditional cooking" too?

Re:I won't worry about the laptop (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | more than 9 years ago | (#12973084)

> Did you read the articles you're using as evidence?

I read up on the older Swiss work several years ago. A gag order for it is just stupid.
This is just a recent link I found with Google that references it.
I didn't read the second paper, just it's abstract, which you quoted:

> "High-pressure boiling, low-pressure boiling (conventional),
> steaming and microwaving were the four domestic cooking processes used in this work . . . .
> [W]e can conclude that a greater quantity of phenolic compounds will be provided
> by consumption of steamed broccoli as compared with broccoli prepared by other cooking processes."

> So the only process that's significantly different is steaming.
> That means that microwaving is as bad as boiling.

No.

Sure you can comprehend differences in this paragraph from the abstract that you missed quoting:

Clear disadvantages were detected when broccoli was microwaved, namely high losses of flavonoids (97%), sinapic acid derivatives (74%) and caffeoyl-quinic acid derivatives (87%). Conventional boiling led to a significant loss of flavonoids (66%) from fresh raw broccoli, while high-pressure boiling caused considerable leaching (47%) of caffeoyl-quinic acid derivatives into the cooking water.

Re:I won't worry about the laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12973367)

Of more concern are studies on microwave cooking that suggest it induces molecular changes to the food that may be harmful to humans: here's a discussion about a Swiss study once subjected to a gag order. Some label this pseudoscience.
Yes. They're known as "scientists".

Re:I'd definitely worry about the laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12982948)

From the discussion about the swiss study in parent post:

Atoms, molecules and cells hit by this hard electromagnetic radiation are forced to reverse polarity 1 to 100 billion times a second. There are no atoms, molecules or cells of any organic system able to withstand such a violent, destructive power for any extended period of time, not even in the low energy range of milliwatts. "Of all the natural substances-which are polar-the oxygen of water molecules reacts most sensitively. This is how microwave cooking heat is generated-friction from this violence in water molecules. Structures of molecules are torn apart, molecules are forcefully deformed (called structural isomerism) and thus become impaired in quality.

So if there is a tiny, mininscule amount of microwave leakage from your laptop, then yes... the family jewels are indeed getting nuked.

Remember all the cases of police radar sterility back in the 70's? Those had transmitting power down in the milliwatts.

Your microwave oven can legally leak 1 full watt, by the way.

Hey kids! Try this! (1)

whovian (107062) | more than 9 years ago | (#12970962)

Hold an otherwise operational wireless bicycle odometer near your laptop. Watch your speed ... you just might get a ticket ;-)

Just to be on the safe side... (3, Funny)

Aldric (642394) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971043)

Have you considered wrapping your lower body in tinfoil?

Or, a new trend in body piercing... (2, Funny)

SteeldrivingJon (842919) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971235)


The full scrotal Faraday cage.

ROTFL (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971149)

If your 2.4 GHz CPU put out any significant amount of microwave radiation cordless phone and WiFi users surely would have noticed by now.

Re:ROTFL (1)

Le_Batleur (822375) | more than 9 years ago | (#12975706)

Actually, mu Mum's old Panason Genius, circa early-80's (yes, it's still going!) *completely* trashes her Wi-Fi and video senders whenever it operates. My 1997 model I bought when I moved out into my flat doesn't do this.

Long range dup. (1)

DeHackEd (159723) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971160)

Something related [slashdot.org] from a previous (ask) slashdot story.

Wouldn't the heatsink aborb the microwave? (1)

lashi (822466) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971206)

Well, isn't there a metal heatsink covering the CPU? The tiny amount of microwave radiation would be absorbed by the metal heatsink unless I am missing something here.

Re:Wouldn't the heatsink aborb the microwave? (1)

Chasuk (62477) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971580)

Beauty doesn't make you a better person, neither does intelligence.

Conversely, ugliness doesn't make you a better person, nor does stupidity. I'd rather be an attractive smart person than an ugly dumb one, wouldn't you?

Supplies... (1)

HaloZero (610207) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971258)

Here's a cup, a magazine, and a wet nap. Don't spill. If you use Viagara, make sure you use adaquate eye protection. If it comes out green, call me in the morning.

Red herring (1)

Stavr0 (35032) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971907)

Look into WiFi or mobile phone. These actually do transmit RF at > 1GHz.

Don't Discount It So Fast (3, Insightful)

ONOIML8 (23262) | more than 9 years ago | (#12971985)

You guys are writing this off a little too quickly IMHO. I never thought about this before but I just looked across the spectrum at my Gateway 600 and....wow! It's no 40 Watt transmitter but it's sure putting out far more that I would have imagined.

I also looked at my cell phone and my Uniden cordless phone, they don't compare. Those devices are pretty focused whereas the Gateway notebook is putting out lots more energy and across more of the spectrum. This thing is like a shotgun.

Re:Don't Discount It So Fast (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12972172)

I read the subject as: Don't Dismount It So Fast.

Shame on me - this is slashdot.

Re:Don't Discount It So Fast (2, Funny)

Solder Fumes (797270) | more than 9 years ago | (#12972751)

I guess now we know Geordi posts on Slashdot.

Re:Don't Discount It So Fast (1)

aminorex (141494) | more than 9 years ago | (#12975231)

As well as the occasional Mancunian.

Re:Don't Discount It So Fast... 40 THz WiFi card.. (1)

HungWeiWeiHai (896959) | more than 9 years ago | (#12972859)

Imagine the day when 40 THz cards might become the norm. Governments and select, exclusive cliques can sell such card at rock-bottom prices or maybe even for free.

This could become the beginnings of a new kind of social genocide (hmmm, a new misnomer?), much like a revival of the purported (or real) government quest of the 70's to find the right molecule to knock of black Americans.

Imagine if it were possible to selectively tune these things such that they don't interfere with residential and emergency services electronics gear or pacemakers and the like. Now, you could peddle these Wi-Fry cards.

But, wait: even better would be the capability to put a clamp (like a sperm-kickin' boot up the ass) around the ankles of registered (assume the unregistered have yet to be discovered and dealt with) sex offenders. These non-sexy anklets could be the near-equivalent of parking enforcement boots for cars, except the house-arrested offender could have his/her, ummm, I mean HIS sperm "neutralized". Well, you could cut his nuggets out and dispose of them, but then if he were an accused and not a confirmed assailant, and were later exonerated, taxpayers would pay out the ying-yang unless the governments were allowed to claim "right of government in the interest of public safety...".

But, then these Teste-Fry bracelets and anklets would protect potential victims from being inseminated. In fact, selling Sperm-Killing emitters might be a way for women to neuter bastards who don't know the meaning of "No!/Stop!". These little anti-jewel emitters could be used without the need to make the man take the male pill, done discretely, and help the woman avert the side-effects of taking the various Pills, RU486's and dealing with IUDs, cervical caps and the like (from an insemination/impregnation POV, not from an anti-HIV/STD point of view).

Maybe whole networks of these things might someday be set up around poor neighborhoods. With the right funding, maybe someone will figure out the right Anti-Verility Frequency for whole communities, used in conjunction with school lunch plans, weather control, and the like.

Hmmm, either I'm onto something (or a few things) or it's just late...

hard to measure (1)

Bishop (4500) | more than 9 years ago | (#12972571)

As an amature you will be hard pressed to measure radiation in the 2.4 GHz band. (Microwave is anything beyond 1GHz BTW.) You would need a good HP scope with high impedance probes that probably costs 100K. Better engineering universities will have this equipment. Some university profs are actually geeks so they might be willing to help if you ask nicely.

As others have pointed out the radiation level will be quite low. Various standars have required low EM radiation.

Re:hard to measure (3, Informative)

Blittzed (657028) | more than 9 years ago | (#12978269)

I am one of the prof geeks you refer to, who works at a University and we do have the equipment to test this (ie 7GHz Spectrum Analyser), and we did exactly that when the first P4 2.4 GHz CPUs appeared a few years ago. We built an antenna tuned to the correct frequency, hooked it up to the Spec An, turned it on, pulled the case off, put the antenna in and we got... nothing. Not a peep. Zip. Buck all. This was as we expected, but we thought we'd do it anyway. So you can all put your conspiracy theories away! ;)

Re:hard to measure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12981440)

Huh? "You would need a good HP scope with high impedance probes "


What does brand have to do with this? And why high impedance probes? Are you planning on de-capsulating the processor and probing it?


"probably costs 100K"


Huh? A 100$ 40-year-old analog sampling scope will do the job.


"Better engineering universities "


Oh, poor you, you drank the Kool-Aid, didn't you? University != end-all of knowledge


"Some university profs are actually geeks"


For all the hot air universities generate, I expect as a minimum that EVERY prof have a home lab, and EVERY student as well. Otherwise, what exactly are they doing there?

Yes, very easy and enjoyable way (1)

Zaffle (13798) | more than 9 years ago | (#12974989)

Fertilization!
Just have unprotected sex with your life-partner[*] as often as possible for the next 10 years. Observe whether the rate of her pregnancy goes down over the years.

This is in no way a valid test, nor will it reveal anything about the laptop, but it'll be fun in the process, and you'll be able to claim its all in the interests of science!

[*] Usual rules regarding STDs and ensuring you and your life partner stay true to each other, no nipping off to the local establishment to perform other not-so-valid scientific tests with other, um, subjects.

Re:Yes, very easy and enjoyable way (1)

kieronb (780769) | more than 9 years ago | (#12976911)

Usual rules regarding STDs and ensuring you and your life partner stay true to each other, no nipping off to the local establishment to perform other not-so-valid scientific tests with other, um, subjects

But it wouldn't be scientific without a control group!

Ignoring advice? (1)

ogonek (833611) | more than 9 years ago | (#12975060)

If the heat alone is a threat, It would make sense that holding a 40-watt microwave emitter in your lap could cause even more serious problems down the road.

So, considering that you don't want to have your laptop on your lap, since it emits heat, why worry about microwaves damaging your "equipment".

It's like saying "I am planning on ignoring this advice about the heat, but I'd like to know if there are even more threats to my health".

My advice, don't put your laptop on your lap, treat it like a portable desktop instead. You'll be fine.

What about monitors? (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 9 years ago | (#12975709)

Been thinking about it for long.
I have a CRT and non-grounded outlet.
I know the shieldings only work when grounded, but then I also have no idea if it matters with the radiation.

What is emitted and is it dangerous?
Should I care?
Should i get a TFT immediatly? (please say yes ;D)
I could use a cord from the kitchen but uhm, no, that sucks, but I don't want to get hurt by this monitor either. Please help. This is leeloo speaking.

2.4 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12975955)

If I hold 2.4 billion grains of sand will it also give off microwave radiation?

Re:2.4 (1)

sydres (656690) | more than 9 years ago | (#12976777)

no but if you heat them enough you might gets some gamma rays out of them. 10 million degrees ought to do it

Hertz = per second (1)

cloudofstrife (887438) | more than 9 years ago | (#12976824)

I hate to say it, but the Ghz for computers and microwaves are both measuring things in per second, but they're measuring different things. The 2.4Ghz in a computer means 2.4 billion operations per second. The 2.4 Ghz for the microwaves means 2.4 billion oscillations of the photon per second. Wait, I just realized that this is Slashdot and you all know this already. Well, at least it's out there.

Re:Hertz = per second (1)

Blittzed (657028) | more than 9 years ago | (#12978238)

Sorry mate, but clock speed (Hz) doesn't actually directly relate to operations per second. Case in point: the first Intel P4s were clocked higher than PIIIs but performed less opertions per cycle, and were in fact slower than the PIIIs!!! Also the reason why Athlon went to the "Performance Rating (PR)" instead of using raw clock speed.

Re:Hertz = per second (1)

xsbellx (94649) | more than 9 years ago | (#12980971)

Case in point: the first Intel P4s were clocked higher than PIIIs but performed less opertions per cycle, and were in fact slower than the PIIIs!!!

Care to back that up with a source?

Re:Hertz = per second (2, Informative)

Blittzed (657028) | more than 9 years ago | (#12982367)

Sure do!

The Pentium 4 performs much less work per cycle than other CPUs (such as the various Athlon or older Pentium III architectures) but the original design objective - to sacrifice instructions per clock cycle in order to achieve a greater number of cycles per second (i.e. greater frequency or clockspeed) - has been fulfilled http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentium_4 [wikipedia.org]

And in case you aren't satisfied with that:

As early as 2000, THG observed that the Pentium 4's performance was clearly inferior to that of its predecessor, the Pentium III, on a clock-for-clock basis. http://www.tomshardware.com/cpu/20050525/ [tomshardware.com]

There are a ton of other sources, just try googling...

Re:Hertz = per second (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12981474)

Uh, I hate to say it, but you're an arsebiscuit.


"Wait, I just realized that this is Slashdot and you all know this already"


We don't know it, because it's not knowledge, it's something "cloudofstrife" pulled out of his rectum on July 3th, 2005 at 10:37pm. Actually, it is PRECISELY the SAME thing. There's a freaking oscillator in there running at that speed! What do you think IS MAKING THOSE OPERATIONS HAPPEN?

Zapchecker (2, Interesting)

AeiwiMaster (20560) | more than 9 years ago | (#12978283)

Get yourself a zapchecker [zapchecker.com]

Mine shows some radiation form my computer.

2.4GHz Inside The CPU Only (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 9 years ago | (#12978930)

The 2.4GHz clock is generated inside the CPU, multiplied up from the external clock by a PLL. A few microwatts may get out, but it's just RF. All it can do is heat things up. Your balls are already being cooked by conducted heat, so don't worry about the RF.

FCC Certification (1)

Matt_Bennett (79107) | more than 9 years ago | (#12979153)

To be sold in the US, the laptop has to pass FCC certification- there are similar requirements for every other country. The FCC requires that emissions be below a certain level, so that they don't interfere with legitamate users of the airwaves- so there has been testing that has shown that the power level out is pretty low (usually in the microwatts or lower).

But the biggest reason why I wouldn't be concerned is simply the conservation of energy- all of the energy in the laptop is consumed some way- ultimately as some sort of EM radiation (RF out, light out of the display, and heat) Laptop makers are extremely concerned about battery life- if you were transmitting 40W of power as 2.4GHz RF- that's 40W of power that wouldn't be consumed by the CPU- and that much less total operational time while on the battery.
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