2008-03-24

Cell Phone Cancer [ AN T ]

Cell phones cause cancer the headline screamed. Really? I always wondered how this would happen; in other words what mechanism caused cancer from the cell phone. I mean, shouldn't we be worried about the "electromagnetic energy" from the phone??!!

It's the electromagnetic spectrum, stupid! You can't say "electromagnetic energy" as this encompasses a host of radiation types.

Ionizing radiation (gamma, X-rays, K-rays) can cause cellular genetic damage, which the body can and does repair. Your body is naturally radioactive, from carbon, potassium (and other) isotopes. Ionizing radiation does not cause cumulative damage, unless the dose is high, such as exposure to unshielded reactor fuel, atomic bomb blasts, etc. Other radiation, such as Beta and Alpha particles, can be very hazardous if ingested if inhaled. Cell phones do not produce ionizing radiation.

Magnetic radiation is similar to the earth's magnetic field. There's evidence that intense magnetic fields - such as near a dynamo or a Tokamak - cause a rare brain cancer: astrocytoma. The earth's magnetic field (800 milligauss) dwarfs magnetic fields encountered by the public (the voice coil in a cell phone).

Electric radiation are fields encountered in proximity to power lines, thunderstorms, and nerve conduction in the body. That said, exposure to almost any electric field encountered (the power supply in a cell phone) is insignificant compared to that within one's own body's nervous system.

Microwave radiation (RF, radio frequency) is used by cell phones to communicate. Exposure to high levels of microwave radiation generally produce only "thermal effects". There is some limited evidence that exposure to high levels of microwaves can denature proteins. Again, at levels way, way, way, way above anything encountered from a cell phone.

So we see there's no mechanism for a cell phone to cause/contribute to cancer. Epidemiological studies (USA, Denmark) have shown no cancer linked to cell phone use. Maybe their car is causing the brain tumor - plasticizers leaching from vinyl interiors, exposure to benzene when pumping gas, auto exhaust is a known carcinogen.

Or perhaps there's a certain % of the population that will get a brain tumor. A high % also have cell phones. It's a high probability that a person with a brain tumor uses a cell phone. You might as well say wearing glasses or contact lenses causes brain tumors. The link is circumstantial, not causative.

iBook Repair [ A G T ]

Now, as wonderful as Apple products can be, they are not infallible. My son's hand me down laptop (the generational equivalent on a Cray XM-P) recently developed a problem with the display. This was not an unknown problem, Apple even had a free extended warranty. Well the problem developed out of warranty.

The problem stems from a video chip that is soldered using a ball grid array. A BGA can fail due to circuit board flexing, and there are not many options. You can either replace the logic board, send it out for repair or sell it on eBay. I had to caution my son that one has to disclose that it is not working. He did suggest that we could chalk the damage up to UPS/FedEx; but I had to explain that is not good . One further option would be to burn it.

I do not mean destroy it by fire, but to re-heat the BGA so the solder joints were fixed. Using information on this website, we carefully disassembled it, then filled a metal cap with alcohol, and set it on fire. As the fire burned, at some point the BCA connections were re-made; the display lit up and I quenched the fire letting the circuit board cool. Result - happy iBook!

video

2008-03-14

Best-Ad-Ever [PG PI S]


This Virgin Mobile ad will supposedly run in Toronto newspapers the week of 3/17. Thanks to the power of the Internet I got it, and you have gotten it. Although apparently not as good as Spitzer got it.

2008-03-11

Global Whining [ G P PI T ]

I have kept threatening to do it, and I have done it. Behold my Global Warming manifesto, which will amaze and captivate all. Note as a background to this I have to a Master’s in environmental science, and I can actually read and understand detailed reports and findings, instead of parroting Al Gore and his Legions of Doom.

Part of the inspiration for this article was from a visit with my mother this past weekend in Massachusetts. In a newspaper serving the People’s Republic of Easthampton, I was reading about a family who is 100% off the power grid. Now that is admirable, albeit fraught with limitations (not to mention the pollution)

What struck me was the wife (with hyphenated last name, natch) who said “The planet is in crisis, trying to shake us off like fleas," said Boyle-Clapp. "We may have no more than eight years to turn this around. The ice shelves are ready to go. This is today. It's not science fiction - this is really happening.”

No, it’s not. Remember, Global Warming is not man-made. It is man-observed.

Let’s briefly look what global warming is, and what it is not. As I learned in school in the waning years of last millennium, Global Warming is a horrifically complex, cyclical variation in the earth’s temperature, caused by factors including sunspots, el Nino, the 1,500 year solar cycle and the 24,000 year cycle of the earth’s rotation about it’s axis, like a top wobbling.

Think of how people view Global Warming. Get 100 of your friends in a room; ready? Okay ask them: pro-choice or pro-life? Red Sox or Yankees? Butter or margarine? Notice how the crowd is divided in some 50/50 or 60/40 or 70/30 division. Now ask about global warming; those who do not collapse in the fetal position in a paroxysm of fear will tell you – at near 100% - that this is the greatest danger facing mankind.

Would not a rational adult question anything where we are all in 100% agreement? In some ways it is the Arrogance of Man to assume we can easily change things on a global scale. Okay, Mark, so what is your take on what the media says? We have NASA and NOAA data, glacial data, even satellite data.

As I had noted before, the data from NASA had a Y2K error. The actual NASA data is available here, but the main summary is this: 1934 is now the hottest year on record, not 1998. 5 of the top 10 hottest years are before WWII.

There was a good article in Scientific American a few years ago, before they went and followed the masses. I have not found the article, but some of their explanations were as follows. Ocean warming data is often used to bolster the claim of Global Warming. However, years ago the water samples were taken by dropping an insulated bottle to a predetermined depth, grabbing a sample, and bringing the sample to the surface. The tiny amount of evaporation off the container lowered the temperature a fraction of a degree. Now deep water temperature reading are done by direct reading probes, the fraction of a degree difference is seen as an increase due to global warming. Weather stations seem to corroborate the fact that warming is occurring. However, there are several issues at play. The areas with the longest records – such as most urban areas – have been built up to be massive blacktop and concrete heatsinks.

Glaciers do in fact seen to be shrinking in some areas, but not everywhere. Pardoxically the temperature in many glacial areas does not exceed freezing. This is because the glacial retreat we are seeing is due to a lack of precipitation. Snow leads to packed snow leads to ice leads to glaciers. And please – to the media of this world – no videos of glaciers “calving” into the ocean when they do an article about Global Warming. This has nothing to do with Global Warming.

What about the North Pole – the ice caps are melting right? We’re all going to drown right? I read an article recently. It was entitled "Arctic Ocean Getting Warm; Seals Vanish and Icebergs Melt." It also said "great masses of ice have now been replaced by moraines of earth and stones," and "at many points well-known glaciers have entirely disappeared." Great article, however it was written in not 2002 but back in the day of 1922. The media leave out the recent Arctic ice re-freeze, characterized as a “record pace”.

A lot of people forget good ol’ Archimedes. Here’s a test. Take a tall tumbler, and fill it about half-full of ice. Fill the rest with water until the water reaches the rim, then carefully fill it until – through the magic of the Young-Laplace equation (known to most as “surface tension”) – we get the water rising up above the rim of the glass. What happens when the water melts? No rush, think c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y. No idea? The water level drops!

Yes, solid water (i.e. “ice”) has a greater volume than liquid water (i.e. “water”).

Some non-scientists will say “well, *ahem* don’t forget *ahem* that with global warming the *ahem* increase in temperature will cause the water to expand.” Yes, it will, crevasse-face, but the coefficient of expansion for water is less than that of earth/rocks, so the net effect of the global warming/polar ice caps melting combo-meal is a lowering of the ocean’s water levels. And do not worry about the South Pole. The average temperature in Antarctica is -40 F; so we would have to have a far grater catastrophe than a 1 or 2 degree rise before we panic.

But what about the satellite data? Yes, the satellite data we have is unprecedented. un·prec·e·dent·ed –adjective without previous instance; never before known or experienced; unexampled or unparalleled: an unprecedented event. Yes, unprecedented, as in such a short timeslice to be essentially meaningless. Call me when you have a century of satellite data. NASA please.

There are also several different views of what the rise in CO2 actually means. Some feel the CO2 numbers are a following as opposed to leading event to global warming.

Some also view increased CO2 as helping plants grow (remember plants "breathe in" CO2, and "exhale" O2), which will help stave off the inevitable global famine. There is even data suggesting that – by seeding the oceans with iron – we can cause a phytoplankton “bloom” which can control any potential CO2 issue we can create.

I’ll close with several personal views and observations about Global Warming. The first is that we cannot predict the weather with any reliability for the next 5 days; we cannot even be sure if it will snow, rain or drop frogs from the sky. So we think we can predict global climate over the next 50 to 100 years?

Also, apparently every believer in Global Warming does not have any faith in the Bush administration. So let me get this straight – you disbelieve everything Bush and his lackeys say, yet you do believe when government scientists at NASA and the NOAA support global warming?

Seems like such a convenient truth.

Spitzer Swallows [ P S X ]

Those who have been living in Antarctica may not know it, but NY Governor Elliott Spitzer has become embroiled in some sort of "government funds for sex" scandal. Now apparently - according to an FBI affidavit - as "Client 9", Elliott paid a prostitute $4,000 for sex, plus a $300 tip. You would think that for that amount of money he would have also paid for an Acela train ticket.

Apparently in unrelated news, Spitzer may file legislation to make records for prostitutes and massage parlors confidential under HIPPA laws, citing the "theraputic health effects" of such treatments. Spitzer's office had no official comment.

I do wonder what the affidivit refers to as the client (Spitzer) wanting to take part in "unsafe acts." I hope it was not a Cleveland Steamer or a Pittsburgh Platter. The latter was attributed to Jerry Springer when he was embroiled in a similar scandal.

2008-03-06

New Idea [FE T]

Here's an idea, I  had it when watching an X-Files Season 1 DV (episode Tooms). 

You've heard of colorizing movies, right? This is where a black & white film is computer enhanced with color.   Now some critics say this detracts from the file (sure) but proponents emphasize how it opens up a film to a wider audience. Some critics claim it is an affront to the director and writer, whose work should not be subverted or significantly altered.  Now if you have seen movies cut up, sped up and significantly edited on TV, this argument is moot. My favorite - during the Nancy Reagan "just say 'no' to drugs" heyday was the immortal line in Caddyshack; wherein Ty Webb (Chevy Chase) asks caddy Danny Noonan "Do you take drugs, Danny?"  "Yes sir, every day"  "Good" which was reduced to the puerile answer "No sir" for TV viewing. 

Next thing you'll tell me is the super hot alien SIL in in Species I & II I saw on TV wasn't originally wearing a black bikini in most scenes...

Anyway, back to my idea. In the X-Files I noticed Mulder using what looked like a shoebox held to his head to make a cell phone call.  My idea is called Modernization. Like colorization, it removes anachronistic items from movies, such as 8-track players, old cars, '50s hairstyles. 

Similar to what Steven Speilberg did with removing the guns from ET, it allows me to watch a movie without saying "that's a record player...   that's a carburetor...   no that was before airbags...  yes, that's an instant picture he is peeling off... "

My next idea would be nudization, and I'll explain sometime what that will do.

2008-03-05

You Think the Weather's Bad? [ G ]

If you think the weather is bad, check this website of solar weather. 
I mean, an aurora borealis as far south as Florida??!!