Sunday, May 6, 2012
1. ALBERT WHO? DEAD PHYSICIST DISPELS MOBILE-PHONE MYTH.
According to news reports last week: "There is still no evidence of harm to
health from mobile-phone technologies," or other wireless devices such as
Wi-Fi. A study for the UK's Health Protection Agency (HPA) is said to be
the most complete review yet and new evidence is still being examined,
according to Professor Anthony Swerdlow of the Institute of Cancer
Research, who chaired the study. I once had a rubber stamp made that
said: "More research is needed," since its found at the end of every
science paper. The unanswered question is why anyone thought microwave
radiation might be a cancer agent in the first place? Cancer is linked to
the formation of mutant strands of DNA. More than 100 years ago in his
1905 paper on the photoelectric effect, Albert Einstein predicted an abrupt
threshold for photoemission at about 5 eV, just above the lovely blue limit
of the visible spectrum, demonstrating wave-particle duality. He was
awarded the 1923 Physics Nobel Prize. Its also the threshold for the
emission of invisible ultraviolet radiation that causes hideous skin
cancers. The cancer threshold, is therefore, 1 million times higher than
the microwaves band. The same enormous mistake was made in the 1980s when
epidemiologists falsely warned that exposure to power line emission can
cause cancer. Power lines abruptly stopped causing cancer in 1997 after
the U.S. National Cancer Institute conducted a better study. Its painful
to witness this sad history being replayed with mobile-phone radiation.
Aside: My apologies to regular readers who have heard this 20 times before,
but it has not gotten through to everyone.
2.ASTEROID PROSPECTING: WHAT'S HOLDING UP A SPACE-AGE GOLD RUSH.
There was a front-page article by Joel Achenbach in the Washington Post
last week about Planetary Resources, the world's first asteroid mining
business, started by space visionary Peter Diamandis and his colleague Eric
Anderson. Deep-pocket investors are said to be hyperventilating. Why
wouldn't they? Untold thousands of asteroids are whizzing around the Sun
right now and they're free. Just leave your business card on an asteroid
and it's yours. But, although asteroids are free, "whizzing" is not. What
are these guys thinking? You must chase asteroids down to extract stuff
like platinum and diamonds, if there is any, and haul it to Earth.
Meanwhile the price of rocket fuel is up and tiny errors in trajectory
could lead to huge damage suits or start wars. But why bother? Some of the
best asteroids are already here; Earth has been collecting them for eons.
Just look for craters and start digging. Consider the Chicxulub asteroid
buried beneath the Yucatn Peninsula. It got rid of the dinosaurs 65
million years ago, clearing the way for the evolution of Homo sapiens.
Mining the Chicxulub asteroid should keep Planetary Resources busy for
centuries. Asteroids already have a really bad rap, but I think Chicxulub
may be seen as evidence that God is a businessman.