Stop Press! Wi-Fi distresses cress. Humanity doomed.
Things are quietening down in the run-up to the Christmas and New Year holidays and as the usual deluge of industry-related news slows to a trickle in this, the last full working week before most of Europe and North America takes time off to relax before girding its loins and squaring up to 2014. (After all, the madness that will be Mobile World Congress, Barcelona is a mere two months away. Now there's a frightening thought.)
So, because real technology stories are a bit thin on the ground, the European tabloid press, as well as some reputable magazines and other news outlets that really ought to know better, are paying somewhat unwarranted attention to a 'scientific experiment' that 'proves' radiation from W-Fi routers kills plants.
"Erk!", you might think, "that sounds bad "- and so it does until you read the details of an schoolroom experiment that, whilst amusing and entertaining, is bereft of any scientific rigour.
Chatting together, five ninth-grade schoolgirls from Hjallerup school in North Jutland in Denmark found, to their mutual shock and amazement that when they left their mobile handsets on and next to their heads whilst sleeping they had 'difficulty' in concentrating on school matters the day after.
Hmm. Funny that. When I was in the fifth form on the Oswaldtwistle Campus of Colonel Creakle's Academy for the Enlightenment of the Offspring of the Great Unwashed, (in the days long before mobile telephony - indeed, the telegram was still pretty much a novelty) I found that after staying up until three a.m. playing poker and drinking snakebite with my chums it was difficult to concentrate on the Latin lesson that blighted my existence for an hour at the start of each and every school day. "By, with or from a bloody table." I still haven't got round to using that particular phrase despite once being in Pompeii at lunchtime.
Anyway, back in Denmark, having experienced their epiphany the schoolgirls determined to research the effect of mobile handset radiation on the human brain - notwithstanding the fact that many real, long-term investigations carried out by professional bona fide scientists under scrupulous control conditions have been (and continue to be) inconclusive in their results.
Unfortunately, the science lab at Hjallerup School was not equipped with the instrumentation necessary to conduct experiments with RF radiation from mobile handsets so the girls turned to Wi-Fi and designed an experiment to determine if radiation from a Wi-Fi router is dangerous to the human body.
Accordingly they sowed twelve small trays with Lepidium Sativum seeds (a type of cress commonly used as a salad ingredient). Six trays were placed in a room next to two Wi-Fi routers and six trays were placed in another room without any W-Fi routers in it.
Over 12 days the trays were left to their own devices (if you'll forgive the pun) but the germination of the cress seeds was observed, measured, weighed and recorded. By the time the experiment ended the cress seeds placed in the room alongside the Wi-Fi routers had failed to germinate while those in the radiation-free room "had blossomed into healthy plants".
Thus Wi-Fi RF kills vegetation and by logical extension can also kill humans. QED.
The UK Health Protection Agency (HPA), which is tasked by the British government to monitor Wi-Fi safety levels and the potential effects that Wi-Fi radiation might have on the human body, points out that were a person to stand in front of several Wi-Fi routers, 24/7 for a full year, the subject would receive the same dosage of radiation as he or she would absorb when making or taking a 20 minute mobile phone call.
Interviewed by the Danish media, Kim Horsevad, a biology teacher at Hjallerup School said, "This has sparked quite a lively debate in Denmark regarding the potential adverse health-effects from mobile phones and Wi-Fi -equipment."
I suppose something had to fascinate the country now that "Borgen" has finished.
Most amusingly of all, it turns out that the seeds used in the experiment were placed in rooms with vastly different levels of natural light and did not receive equal amounts of water. The room with the W-Fi routers was also considerably hotter than the room without them. A Danish botanist commented, "There is some debate about whether the negative effects were due to the cress seeds drying from the heat emitted by the computer Wi-Fi routers."
That's it. I'm off to wire a turnip into the electricity mains and see if it will try to talk to me.