Sunday, May 6, 2012


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.


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.

Bob Park can be reached via email at
Opinions are the author's and are not necessarily shared by the University, but they should be.