Saturday, February 5, 2022

Electromagnetic radiation

I just heard the claim that using 5G or a cell phone is equivalent to an X-Ray.  People make these claims because they don't understand how the electromagnetic spectrum works.

Frequencies higher than Visible Light, including Ultraviolet Radiation, X-Rays, and Gamma Rays, are ionizing radiation, which means that they have the power to dislodge electrons from atoms. This can lead to genetic damage inside your cells.  Too much exposure can kill you.  Gamma Rays are the most dangerous.  

We don't get much ionizing radiation naturally.  The Earth's ozone layer blocks most of the UV radiation from the sun.  On the other hand, radioactive substances can give off dangerous radiation.  Nuclear reactions give off a great deal, such as gamma radiation, but also particle radiation such as alpha, beta, and neutron particles.

Visible light is not ionizing.  The frequency is not high enough.  Radio waves and microwaves are way below visible light, which means that they are not ionizing either.

A Microwave Oven emits a frequency of 2.4 GHz inside a Faraday Cage to keep the electromagnetic radiation from getting out.  A small amount does leak out through the window in the door.  This happens to be the frequency best absorbed by water, which causes the water molecules to vibrate creating heat.  I have a Wi-Fi router that can operate either at 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz.  I only use the 5 GHz band.  The difference between the router and the Microwave Oven is that the router emits a tenth of a watt and the Microwave Oven emits 1100 watts.  That is enough to cause burns and heat damage.  A tenth of watt is not likely to be noticeable even if you were standing next to the transmitter.  Imagine having a light bulb that only uses a tenth of a watt and standing next to it.  You might not feel anything.

The human body gives off about a hundred watts of infrared radiation.

Mobile phones emit between a tenth of a watt and 2 watts.  Most mobile phones use frequencies between 800 Mhz and 1.9 GHz.  The 5G frequencies are between 24 and 54 GHz.  On the other hand, visible light, which is not high enough to be ionizing, goes from 400 to 700 terahertz. 

There was a fake video that was temporarily popular showing people using multiple mobile phones to make a kernel of popcorn pop.  This doesn't actually work since the frequencies are wrong and the power levels are too low.

Power lines give off 60-hertz radiofrequency.  This is classified as extremely low and therefore is not ionizing.

I don't know if it is safe to stand for any length of time next to a 50,000-watt radio transmitter, which is the most power that AM radio stations can use.   Perhaps the worst that would happen is that some of the energy would be transferred to you causing you to feel slightly warmer.  Maybe nothing at all would happen.

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