In a debate in the Radio Mirror back in 1934, Charles Shaw of NYU tussled with no less a figure than Nicola Tesla, the man who in many senses invented radio, long before Marconi. Shaw voiced the concern that, since radio engineers in close proximity with transmission equipment seemed to have higher body temperatures, that perhaps radio waves were going to bake us all while we slept! Not only that, but its noise and drivel "lowered our cultural standards." Tesla was left to point out that radio waves were far too weak in amplitude, and the wrong frequency, to do any cooking, and as to radio's content, wisely noted that "You can't blame lowering our culture on radio," he insisted, "blame it on yourself and myself. The type of program that comes over the air is the type you and I want to listen to."
|A light pole in San Francisco|
|Mark Twain in Tesla's lab in 1894|
And then there's amplitude. The 5G signal will be far too low in energy to do any damage. With old-fashioned single transmitter systems such as radio, many watts of power were needed to give the signal a wide range, but the 5G antennas that spike these worries are in fact very very low power -- they're essentially "repeaters," picking up and rebroadcasting a very low power signal to give it range. No cell phone company would waste more electricity on these than needed to power these mini-antennas -- and even if they tried, the FCC's regulations on phones would prevent them from doing so. The current regulation for phones is for an absorption rate of 1.6 watts per kilogram of mass, which isn't enough amplitude to warm the surface of your skin more than a tiny fraction of a degree, assuming your cellphone is in direct contact with it. All phones sold in the US must meet this standard. Ultimately, these high frequencies, because they can't penetrate the body, are dissipated in the form of heat -- and if it's heat you're worried about, the electric hot pad you use for your sore neck puts out hundreds of thousands of times more.
All this leaves us with just the content of our signals to worry about. And here I would agree with Tesla -- we get what we deserve. Even when, at times, it seems we don't want it -- since now, with all our clicks tracked in one way or another, the system itself works to try to predict our desires. And yet, despite the screaming echo chambers of the 'net, it's just the sound of our own voice, really -- and we have only ourselves to blame for it if we listen.