Previously unaccounted mechanism proposed for cell phone radiation damage

Apr 29, 2011 by Deborah Braconnier report

(PhysOrg.com) -- The long running debate on whether cell phones are capable of damaging human tissue and causing health problems received new fuel from a paper published at arXiv by theoretical biologist Bill Bruno from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Cell phones and the microwave photons they create have been looked at for some time as having the potential for causing damage and health issues to humans. One side shows evidence that cell signals have affected human behavior and health, while the other side says there is no epidemiological evidence and that microwave photons do not have enough energy to damage chemical bonds and biological tissue.

However, as Bruno points out in his paper, microwave photons can cause damage if the conditions are right. The main argument is that are not able to damage human tissue when the photon density in a cubic is less than one.

Bruno compares this to , which are able to manipulate and damage cells with the use of photons. Optical tweezers have large amounts of photons piled on each other creating a stronger force. It is this reasoning that Bruno believes that cell signals are capable of damaging human tissue because their per cubic wavelength are much greater than one.

Bruno has shown that the argument that microwaves cannot disrupt a chemical bond is no longer enough to say that cell phones are unable to damage . This new information will most definitely add more fuel to the cell phone debate. Bruno argues that the way current safe dosage limits are determined is not accurate because it does not take into account this tweezer-like notion into consideration.

Explore further: Study details laser pulse effects on behavior of electrons

More information: What does photon energy tell us about cellphone safety? arXiv:1104.5008v1 [q-bio.OT] arxiv.org/abs/1104.5008

Abstract
It has been argued that cellphones are safe because a single microwave photon does not have enough energy to break a chemical bond. We show that cellphone technology operates in the classical wave limit, not the single photon limit. Based on energy densities relative to thermal energy, we estimate thresholds at which effects might be expected. These seem to correspond somewhat with many experimental observations.

via Technology Review

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User comments : 24

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Isaacsname
not rated yet Apr 29, 2011
Interesting paper. Thanks, Physorg.
pauljpease
4 / 5 (2) Apr 29, 2011
This looks like progress on a controversial issue, way to go! I once calculated the energy of a microwave photon and came to the same conclusion, a single photon can't break a chemical bond. But what about a 100 photons?

Modernmystic
2.5 / 5 (8) Apr 29, 2011
Utterly meaningless without a study saying microwave energies of thus and such a density CAN disrupt cells and chemical bonds AND cellphones fall in this density range...

One might as well say it's POSSIBLE for pigs to fly if you squeeze enough of them into a box...

At least they appear to have given up the ghost as far as saying non-ionizing radiation can cause cancer.
Isaacsname
not rated yet Apr 29, 2011
I wonder why a backward wave oscillator is called a " carcinotron ", was that supposed to be some sort of sick joke ?
Necoras
2.8 / 5 (6) Apr 29, 2011
@Modernmystic It is not meaningless. A drop of water on your forehead is irritating. A drop hitting your forehead every second for a few hours is maddening.

This is an avenue for further study where before we didn't see one. This is a hypothesis that needs to be tested.
Question
1 / 5 (1) Apr 29, 2011
Photoelectric experiments with laser light have shown that frequencies below the threshold of energy needed to ionize atoms can in fact eject electrons and ionize the atoms on occasion. It is called multiphoton ionization.
What this article states is the same thing with lower microwave frequencies.
It is not only possible but probable.

Skeptic_Heretic
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 29, 2011
@Modernmystic It is not meaningless. A drop of water on your forehead is irritating. A drop hitting your forehead every second for a few hours is maddening.

This is an avenue for further study where before we didn't see one. This is a hypothesis that needs to be tested.

Photonic tweezers are a far higher stacking of wave packets than a cell phone could ever generate. I'm with MM, this study is mostly meaningless.

There's a reason why it was published to arxiv and not the JoM.
JamesKassab
1 / 5 (1) Apr 29, 2011
Unfortunately we could be told that in 10yrs your head will explode from using your cellphone and people would not give them up. i remember when there was talk of effecting bee's navigations patterns and the lack of pollination of plants, if this were true say goodbye to bees and plants or get a landline, hah!!
soulman
1 / 5 (2) Apr 30, 2011
I would never trust a THEORETICAL biologist!
PPihkala
not rated yet Apr 30, 2011
I think this is a good starting point for experiments that study if this effect does exist in real life. I also think I have seen somewhere mention that cell phone radiation can break the blood brain barrier. If that is the case, that would spell trouble for health, not by itself, but by pathogens and substances that should stay away from brains.
MarkyMark
5 / 5 (1) Apr 30, 2011
I would never trust a THEORETICAL biologist!

Why?
soulman
1 / 5 (1) Apr 30, 2011
I would never trust a THEORETICAL biologist!

Why?

Because biology, or wetware, is extremely messy and any purely theoretical model should be considered dubious at best. Unlike physics, biology requires extensive physical trials and experimentation before any real effects can be claimed.
sadwsdwa
1 / 5 (1) Apr 30, 2011
sdfefsf
Grizzled
1 / 5 (1) Apr 30, 2011
I once calculated the energy of a microwave photon and came to the same conclusion, a single photon can't break a chemical bond. But what about a 100 photons?

They don't hit that bond at the same time so their effects aren't cumulative (the bond can't absorb 1/100th of a photon energy and wait for others to arrive).

Th only possibility would be quite simply to heat the environment until the pure kinetic energy becomes enough to cause damage but ... your 100 photons aren't nearly enough for that and once you start talking about larger numbers (and thus longer durations) the dissipation kicks in too.
Grizzled
1 / 5 (1) Apr 30, 2011
It is not meaningless. A drop of water on your forehead is irritating. A drop hitting your forehead every second for a few hours is maddening.

A wrong analogy. A correct analogy would be a drop of water flying right through without interacting with you forehead in any way. It can keep dropping in that way for as long as it "likes" with no ill effect. In fact, such "drops" do pass through our foreheads all the time - they are called neutrinos. Do they bother you much?

So yes, it IS meaningless.

jamesrm
4 / 5 (1) Apr 30, 2011
"correct analogy would be a drop of water flying right through without interacting with you forehead in any way."

Now we invoke "magic water" in a analogy to dismiss another analogy, my what a mess.

rgds
James
jimbo92107
not rated yet May 01, 2011
If their predictions match experimental observations, then maybe they're onto something. Obviously this needs a lot more study. Why are people so eager to either jump on this or dismiss it? That's not the scientific spirit. This is not a boo/yay situation.
TheSpiceIsLife
not rated yet May 01, 2011
People have been using mobile phones consistently for, well, in my case 13 years. At what point do we expect to see a rise in the rate of brain tumors that can be positively be attributed to mobile phone use?
Doug_Huffman
not rated yet May 01, 2011
At what point do we expect to see a rise in the rate of brain tumors that can be positively be attributed to mobile phone use?
Research to the desired conclusion. Now they've had to hypothesize a new and novel damage mechanism. Perhaps next 'damage' will be redefined. No information is gained by a tautology.
hte
5 / 5 (1) May 01, 2011
I think many here are missing the point: it's not all about breaking molecular bonds, it's about damaging tissue. Shake cells violently in a pulsing storm of microwave photons and 1) cells gets stressed and overexpress heat-shock proteins, a well known marker of tumorigenesis and 2) compartments inside the cells leak DNA digesting enzymes, due to dielectric calcium removed from compartment membrane.
Photon density in the main beam from a GSM basestation is comparable to 1000 WW2 searchlights.
There are plenty of ways to damage cells without directly severing chemical bonds.
Question
3 / 5 (2) May 01, 2011
I think many here are missing the point: it's not all about breaking molecular bonds, it's about damaging tissue. There are plenty of ways to damage cells without directly severing chemical bonds.

Exactly! Ionization is not the only way to cause cancer, if it were we would not have to limit our exposure to sunlight and tanning beds or even cigarettes!
toyo
not rated yet May 01, 2011
An unproven hypothesis, badly reported.
SemiNerd
not rated yet May 02, 2011
It makes sense right? If one photon won't do it because it doesn't have enough energy, maybe 100 or 1000, or 10000 will.

This violates what we know about how photon energies are added. Einstein didn't win his Nobel for relativity, he won his Nobel for explaining the photo-electric effect.

In essence, chemists of the day well knew that once the frequency of light fell below a threshold, it didn't matter how intense the light was, it didn't cause any effect at all. Only above a certain threshold was effect related to intensity.

This is just more garbage science from someone who almost certainly knows better.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) May 03, 2011
I think many here are missing the point: it's not all about breaking molecular bonds, it's about damaging tissue. There are plenty of ways to damage cells without directly severing chemical bonds.


Name the ones that give you cancer related to energy. A cellphone is no different than putting a warm rock against your head...

Exactly! Ionization is not the only way to cause cancer, if it were we would not have to limit our exposure to sunlight and tanning beds or even cigarettes!


Well first of all the sun DOES give off ionizing radiation

http://www.atsdr....s149.pdf

Look up UV-A and UV-B radiation. The dividing line between ionizing radiation falls in the UV spectrum.

Secondly how is comparing cigarettes and the mechanism they use to cause cancer to electromagnetic radiation helpful? Did comparing apples and oranges suddenly become sound logic and I missed it?

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