Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pushing my buttons

"I know cell phones aren't likely to give anybody brain cancer," the man said. But, he added darkly, "I expect waves of skin cancer to break out any time now." (A quote I read or heard somewhere recently.)

Aargh! I know, the cell-phone/cancer thing pushes my buttons. It's a stand-in for all the dumbness out there. After all, the Legislature is in session here in Montana's capital city. I'm lucky if I don't go spurting off like a venting balloon, ending up somewhere in a wrinkled heap.

Anyway, here's yet another way to look at microwaves. All electromagnetic waves are made of photons, which span a gigantic range of energy. It's not until they reach the microwave energy that they have any impact at all. In a cell phone, all microwaves could do is warm you up. But that wouldn't matter, because by then you'd long since be dead and buried.

Way at the far end of the visible spectrum, nearly into the invisible ultraviolet, photons can spark skin cancer. That's why you wear sun block at the beach. Photons at this energy level are a million times more energetic than microwaves, yet they still can't get below the skin.

So, next time you read about microwave radiation causing cancer, just keep it away from me, OK?

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