back to article Glastonbury new-agers protest WiFi

The new-age residents of Glastonbury are up in arms about the council's deployment of WiFi, claiming the wireless networks are interfering with their chakras and generally getting them down. The news comes courtesy of The Telegraph, which reports local hippies are up in arms (well, placidly protesting) about the already-deployed …

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Anonymous Coward

FUD's not here, maaaaaan.

"If I can be allergic to a pill and broadcast level microwave transmissions can do the same cook out to your eyeballs as the 800W cooker in your kitchen... why can people not be allergic to radio?"

Let's break that down:

"If I can be allergic to a pill..."

Pills are a chemical compound which is absorbed through the lining of your stomach, and enter your bloodstream. Chemicals in one's blood can cause all kinds of reactions, due to it *being in your blood* which suffuses your organs. If you're allergic to the chemical in the pill, of course there will be a reaction. Just ask someone with a penicillin allergy.

"...and broadcast level microwave transmissions can do the same cook out to your eyeballs as the 800W cooker in your kitchen...."

This makes no sense. It's like comparing a match to a burning building. Most Wifi equipment is limited to less than 1W of power. Your microwave oven is 800W, as you say. The "W" indicator actually means something, as do the difference in values of the number which precedes it. Kind of like temperatures. Would you agree that a 37 degree bath is okay, but a 29,000 degree bath might be dangerous?

"....why can people not be allergic to radio?"

Because if they were, they wouldn't survive infancy. There are so many thousands of sources of radio energy, both natural and man made, that being allergic to radio would be much like being allergic to sunlight, or oxygen. It's not outside the realm of possibility, but such an allergy would be universally fatal at very young ages.

Here's a question-- did you grow up in the 80s? 70s? Guess what-- the world was drenched in radio transmissions then, too. Notice any ill effects as a kid? Constant sickness, hair falling out, throat closing up? No? Didn't think so.

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Coat

Well... :)

Assuming ley lines are electromagnetic (which seems to be the basis of the claim--which is *REALLY* an odd basis) then the New Agers have a point. (Let's ignore the question of how a ley line could conduct current of any kind for the moment).

Whatever natural field strength the ley line (presumably) possesses is likely to be in the sub-milliwatt range. A wide-area Wifi network would simply swamp the ley-line.

Which, of course, brings up a couple of awkward questions. First, how can a human detect the ley line in the first place? Second, why would the ley line's microscopic field stregth have any positive health effects at all, as opposed to a 0 strength field? And lastly, given the whole double the distance/quarter the strength aspect of electromagnetic radation if you moved 10 feet from the ley line the the already miniscule field would become ultra-miniscule, yes?

On the other hand, if ley line energies are not electromagnetic you face an even more awkward question. How can electromagnetism affect ley line energies not based on it?

Having said all that it *is* possible for humans to detect sufficiently powerful magnetic fields from induced electrical currents, even in natural setting.

I've climbed Bell Rock near Sedona and felt the hairs on my arms raised, and felt the induced currents running through metal wires in the cages used to keep tourists from taking souvenirs from the rock piles. Never felt the "vortex" though. Guess I'm not as susceptible to EM effects as some.

But the important part was it was *repeatable*. It happened a set distance from the rock and not further away. I tried it several times, and could always feel the border when I crossed it.

I can see why Bell Rock was considered a sacred place by the Amerind peoples. Beautiful setting, really odd sensations, isolated area. And desert quiet.

But a ley line it isn't.

While I don't object to the existence of magic qua magic, I'm a firm believer in falsifiability and repeatibility as proof. Something new age followers are short of. Of course the same can be said of other religions as well... (chuckle)

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@Jemma

"they all cause MORE suicides than they stop"

What is your source for this?

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Pirate

Yes, @Jemma

Sounds like you might be a part-time Cruise-o-matic!

How's that Scientology tripe working out for you?

LOL @ U

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the refuge of the ignorant

is insults, didn't your mother ever teach you that when you were getting bullied at school?

Who is worse a radical Christian who says that all homosexuals are evil because the bible might possible mention something along those lines or a close minded fool who shuts out all opinions which are contrary to their own and do not fit into their very limited dogma....oh wait....

science, like everything else and any other form of investigaton is just that, another torch shined into the dark to see what's there. Just because something cannot be explained, does not mean it cannot exist; ask a scientist that eh? Dark matter anyone? Dark energy? Photon scattering? Quantum gravitational effects? Can't be explained but may exist.....who said science precludes faith?

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@alan fisher

Except everything you mentioned isn't just them coming up with technicolour unicorns that give birth to existence after a heavy curry. They're based on observations and testing.

How do you think they might exist? because evidence points to them and they have to craft them within the current understanding of how physics would allow it to exist.

But the really crucial factor of science is that when their understanding is challenged, science changes and updates itself regardless the outcome - as it would either correllate with current knowledge or surpasses it to enhance our understanding with a clearer picture.

This isn't faith, this is comprehension and a fundamental component of humanity - the questions why and how.

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@the refuge of the ignorant

Religion needs faith, faith depends on the absence of proof.

Science needs hypothesis, hypothesis needs evidence to become a theory, theories need to be refutable;

>Dark energy? Photon scattering? Quantum gravitational effects? Can't be explained but may exist......

These all have related hypothesis, these have spawned theories, evidence is being gathered, if the LHC doesn't find Higgs then maybe the theory is wrong, if it does then another piece of the puzzle has been found, Science will grow exponentially large as every new fact spawns new things to find, religion otoh says "it's magic, that's all you need to know, don't ask any more questions".

If there is genuinely some relationship between EMF and ley lines, if they can affect each other then surely this effect can be used to measure, detect and identify ley lines, the beardy weirdies should embrace this to prove their belief (oh, wait, proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing, and with that god vanishes in a puff of logic*).

*couldn't be arsed to look up the exact quote, apologies DA rip.

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@aplhaxion

Well said and, to the most part I agree with you but, and here is a the big but(t), science must also admit what it does not know in order to progress, you see. To say something is a definate work of the imagination of a sub-set of persons is to do what monothesistic religions have done for millenia, surely? We already know that there elements of the human mind we do not yet understand (I think we never will, one cannot figure out what a hammer does by using another hammer) and there is the possibility that the mind can do things as yet unclassified? I'm not going to go into all the particulars and possibilities themselves now because this is neither the time nor the place but why can they not exist? Other forms of energy we have not yet measured, quantum effects and influences? Who knows what the mind if capable of percieving? The issue here is that there have been plenty of observations of phenomena science cannot explain but these observations have been largely ignored because not enough maths is involved or because there are no machines which can measure said things.

Now the scientific brain does tend to reject that which occurs beyond the sphere of science or anything which sounds 'fanciful' which strikes me as odd because the foundations of science were built by people who were, in their time, considered to be, to say the least, a bit wierd. Now I am not trying to convince anyone or change the opinions of anyone, merely to see if people can accept that there are things they do no know. No wild-haired prophet am I, giving you answers. No, I'm just asking questions, just like everyone else. If you reject these or choose to insult those who ask them, more fool you really.

Personally i feel that one day things such as ghosts, psychic phenomenon and other 'paranormal' activity will be scientifically explainable and the whitecoats will triumphantly tell the world what many of us have suspected for some time already but such is the way of the world; nothing exists until science proves it does.

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More stone age than new age

When these benefit-sucking bastards have finished demanding that the rest of us live in mut huts, perhaps the government would round them up, put them in uniform and make them build roads.

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Paris Hilton

Ley lines! splutter!

They were invented by an historian. He studied ancient sites, and joined them up on a map with a pencil. He did it to invesitgate how closely roads and towns etc corresponded to the shortest distance between the ancient sites. Ley lines are what you get when you select "shortest route" on your satnav.

Paris because she looks after her hair and has the shortest roots in Christendom.

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Alien

Radio sensitivity

In double blind tests no "supposed sensitive" scored any better than a coin flip in correct perception about WiFi being on or off.

Note that in a short isolated trial a coin toss can appear to be a good guide as to if the WiFi is on or off.

However on a large number of trials an RF field detector gadget is 100% correct and a coin toss correct 50% of times.

Due to the < shape pattern of radiation from a mobile phone mast or outdoor phone mast (to improve range for a given power and improve reception), you will find almost no signal directly under it.

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magic nonsense ( a rebuttal)

Magic and religion are not the same thing. They have related elements of ritualisation.

Unicorns and other fabulous beasts have very little discussion in any modern day discussion of magic. Although it seems more and more likely that even the most fantastic creations of man may have had a precedent in reality (witness Lakshmi the Indian girl).

As Arthur C Clarke said, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. JG Frazer in the Golden Bough describes science as next of kin to magic. Those who cling to the utter and blinkered belief in science may like to consider the idea of Solomon the wise, of Roger Bacon and Isaac Newton, all as famed for their science as their magic. The circulation of the blood was 'discovered' not 400 years ago. In the nineteenth century, the discoveries of Darwin, and the curious 'fossils' which began turning up in railway sidings prompted scientists to ponder the idea that if God did make us, he probably didn't do it quite as it says in the first Genesis creation tale. We are getting up to speed, but as someone said, you are shining a light in the darkness and not everything is known yet.

As for so-called ley-lines, it seems almost certain that they are based on some kind of electro-magnetism. It also seems obvious that humans (and probably all life) are sensitive to electro magnetism. Whilst some claim (and I wouldn't like to disagree with them) that they are affected by Wi-Fi, most people are probably not - we are as used to it as we are to refined sugar or estrogen in the water supply. Some people are affected strongly by things which other people never even notice.

Those who actually have any scientific interest in the possibilities of what is currently called 'magic' (which includes, by all accounts, the US and UK militaries, who are not fools enough to lose wars for neglecting to explore possibilities) read with interest of unexplained facts and events, correlations between the various anecdotal evidence which has been amassed. Those people are not looking to 'disprove' science, only to stop being so bloody pig-headed about what is 'possible' and what is 'impossible', what merits scientific thought and what is dismissed summarily, out of hand, just because it seems wacky to a bunch of nerds.

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Coat

tinfoil

Last time I was down that neck of the woods, tinfoil was being used for ..... well, let's just say "other purposes than making anti-radio-wave hats" and leave it at that.

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@Alan Fisher

"Personally i feel that one day things such as ghosts, psychic phenomenon and other 'paranormal' activity will be scientifically explainable"

And I think that you are deluded. Why? I'm glad you asked.

Some people have believed in paranormal activity throughout human history. It has NEVER been shown to actually exist. That's NEVER. As in not ever. This is after tens, or perhaps hundreds of thousands of years of looking for such proof.

On the other hand, when scientific theory predicts something might exist, people go looking for that thing and nearly always find that thing (see background radiation, for example). Not surprisingly, learning about this new bit of science often opens other doors of knowledge, and we continue to learn about the universe.

As the proverbial thinking man, which avenue would you pursue?

On the other hand, James Randi is still offering US$1,000,000 to anyone who can demonstrate actual paranormal activity. You have until March of next year to collect it. Come back when you have the loot, m'kay?

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@rachel

hey, I don't discount everything (my family has a history of ghostly encounters, I myself spent about an hour talking to one when I was about 6 or 7... but that's not to say I believe in duallism) but I also won't believe in something when it is as spurious as "wifi is making me ill and scaring away my great tits" either.

I certainly have my own wild ideas about things (such as everything in this universe having a quantum signiture/vibration that keeps it here, crack that and dimensional travel will work), it's just I won't proclaim them as truth until evidence turns up that actually suggests it, until then it remains a sci-fi fantasy of mine. :P

Just because we pour scorn on the notion that wifi is making them ill doesn't mean our minds are closed, hell the mind has a massive control over the body and if they think it's causing them to be ill they can end up being ill.. it's called the placebo effect!

Doesn't mean it's the wifi doing it, rather their own fears and irrationality. Or do you think that heights have an energy field that causes certain people to become violently ill?

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Anonymous Coward

CE Testing

"Unlike the food and drink industry whose products have to go through extensive pre-market trials and testing, there is no safety net for wireless devices," which comes as a shock to those of us who've crouched down salt mines trying to get electrical equipment though CE testing."

Last time I came into contact with CE testing/marking was back in the mid 1990's, and it wasn't about safety testing, certainly not safety for human beings anyway, not directly.

It was about testing for emissions of RF radiation from a device and testing it's susceptibility to RF emissions, and also electrostatic discharge tests to determine if the unit continued to function and the level of severity of the malfunction when an ESD was applied.

It wasn't directly about safety to human beings, so I think the article is somewhat invalid in the statement "which comes as a shock to us who've crouched down salt mines trying to get electrical equipment through CE marking".

But there's so much bollox about RF, did anyone see the episode of Casualty on tele the other day where they had this nutter patient going on about electromagnetic fields and refusing to be treated in an operating theatre surrounded by medical equipment. Ok, it was fictional, but you can just imagine the hippies acting like that.

Scientists have conducted blind tests on individuals that have claimed to have severe headaches and nausea when in the present of EM fields, WiFi, and who claim they can detect them when walking into a room. The results of the tests were that the hippies were talking bollox, they couldn't detect when the WiFi was turned on or off.

It's all psychosomatic, it's all in the their heads.

It's like the astrologers and new-age muppets that claim that quantum mechanics is the basis of their clairvoyance. They just like the terminology 'cos it sounds good, "Quantum Mechanics" but I bet not a single one as even an O level in Physics, let alone studied it at degree level.

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Anonymous Coward

Glastonbury

It's Glastonbury FFS! It's the West Country, what the f**k do they know about anything?

West Country folk aren't known for being the brightest of people, the opposite in fact.

And before the criticism starts flying in at me, I'm an ex-Devonian and I have first hand experience of what they're really like.

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Anonymous Coward

@Rachel

"read with interest of unexplained facts and events, correlations between the various anecdotal evidence which has been amassed."

I couldn't give a monkey's about anecdotal evidence and correlations. Anecdotal evidence is not proof of anything. As my earlier post has said (if it is accepted and I have little reason to believe it won't), studies have been conducted with *those* people that have actually claimed to be adversely affected in the presence of WiFi / RF fields, that claim to have become physically ill, but when taking part in a blind test, they suffered no ill effects and were unable to identify when the WiFI was present or not.

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Anonymous Coward

@Rachel - Electromagnetism as the basis of Ley Lines

"Some kind of electromagnetism" wtf is this? There is only one kind!

That based on Farday's and Maxwells equations. A magnetic field is just that, a magnetic field and we can detect it. An electric field is an electric field and we can easily detect that.

EM fields, are either one or the other, combinations of both, either static or time varying (giving rise to electromagnetic radiation).

If the LeyLines are based on "some kind" of electromagnetism, and I admit I don't know the first thing about Ley Lines - but I do know about electromagnetism - can't you tell? - then we sure as well will already know about it, we would be able to detect either the electric and/or magnetic field components easily.

The theory that Ley lines are based on electromagnetism can be proved or disproved very easily by experiment.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC, Powerlines

"Quite possibly some people are affected by RF in ways others arent but what about the fields given off by wires and powerlines, or the RF from the alternator on there camper van?"

There is evidence to suggest that the field from high voltage over head power lines can cause medical problems in humans. There has even been a case where a boy ( think it was in the North of England some years ago) developed a brain cancer, interestingly his head whilst asleep was situated right next to the electricty meter feeding power to the house. Co-incidence or causality? (I'm doubtful: the voltage at the electricty meter is 240Vrms

More research needs to be done.

High voltage cables, by definition create a strong electric field, but will also have a magnetic field component of reasonable magnitude. If memory serves me right, the concern is over the electric field component.

Electric fields act on charged particles, ions. And so do magnetic fields, a charged particle in the presence of either field will move.

Mains power operates at a frequency of 50Hz, which means there will be an EM field associated with it - in fact,the magnetic and electric fields I mentioned earlier, but these will be changing with time. The frequency is just way too low to have any effect on the human body by absorbtion of a photon of the EM radiation (unlike X rays which actually rely on absorption to be useful).

So, any adverse effect on the human body created by overhead power lines is likely to be the interaction of the electric or magnetic field components with ions in the body. Ok, we need a biochemist at this point! But I believe there are many processes in the body which rely on ions being present.

So, could the E (electric) and H (magnetic) fields be disrupting chemical processes taking place in the body and causing a harmful effect?

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Anonymous Coward

@AC, Powerlines

"People say to me 'But some of these things have been around for thousands of years so there must be something in it' and that's true. We tested them. The ones that worked became "Science" and the rest are called 'soup'".

No, the rest are called "Alternative". It's well know that most alternative therapies are complete bollox. There's only a few that work, including accupunture - though we can't really explain why they work.

The alternative brigade refute all the medical experts, but then they have to don't they: otherwise they'd all be out of a job!

No self respecting man would fall for the alternative therapy con, you'll find that most people that believe in it are women...wow, am I going to get shot for that, but it's true.

My sister's got in on the act to some degree, and she's grown up surrounded by engineers and scientists in the family. Suffice to say, she's the black sheep in the family.

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Anonymous Coward

Restricted Membership?

When I read the post by Jemma I thought "F**k, I thought The Register was read by high calibre, educated IT professionals!".

by the way, what is an energy working?

I'm now beginning to think readership/ability to post should be restricted to IT professionals.

Sorry, Jemma if you really are an IT professional, but somehow I just don't think you are.

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Anonymous Coward

@Jemma, antidepressants

"Funny that they all cause MORE suicides than they stop and the only one that I know actually "

What planet are you on?So if 1000 people take an antidepressant, and perhaps 50 were feeling suicidal, even less would actually commit suicide, you're saying that more than 50 would kill themselves because of the side effects?

It is known that a side effect of some antidepressants is suicidal thoughts, but those effects are extremely rare.

If there was any truth in the statement you made, the drug would not even be on the market!

Please think before you speak such rubbish. The drugs undergo testing and records are kept, the side effects and their frequency of occurrence are identified. They have to be!

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Silver badge

Power lines & cancer clusters.

"Mains power operates at a frequency of 50Hz"

In some countries. Here in the US it's 60Hz.

As far as I know, the incidence of so-called "cancer clusters" has never been shown to be more related to power lines than a handful of coffee beans thrown at a map, with the beans final resting position representing the statistical probability of a cancer cluster. In other words, it's randomly distributed[1]. A coincidence by any other name is still a coincidence.

[1] Yes, I know, there ARE cases where there were pollution problems leading to a cancer cluster with a known carcinogen, but the vast majority are statistically random.

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Anonymous Coward

50/60 Hz

50Hz, 60Hz, - frequency is still way too for RF to have any direct impact on the body.

The website is in the UK, and so am I, that's why I quoted the 50Hz figure.

Further, the voltage in the USA is 120V, and almost certainly your overhead transmission line voltages are different to ours, and that determines the strength of the E field, and also the H field ( with other factors also present, not just the voltage)

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Anonymous Coward

Ley Lines

What's all the fuss about Ley lines? The original definition by the guy that 'discovered' them, which has since been hijacked by the New Age hippies to suit their own ends, is of straight lines connecting features/objects on the ground.

Now whilst some guy has claimed that theres an increased magnetic flux density at the intersection of two ley lines, so what? That's possible. Would be worth while checking the geological composition of the rock/bedrock to see what's there.

Some others have proposed that there's an increased field strength along the entire length of the ley line, which I very much doubt: for that to happen, there must be a very straight geological feature such as high concentration of haematite, iron based rock and nature doesn't work in dead straight lines.

It's easy enough, as I've indicated in an earlier post, to prove or disprove the mag field theory behind ley lines.

But so what if there is an increased H field at ley line intersection points? How does this affect anything (other than a compass sitting there? or the voltage across a hall effect device)

Why so much interest in ley lines from the hippies?

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private wifi?

So will they be campaigning to take that down too? I have a pretty serious amp on my setup ;-)

Perhaps the council should give out free foil hats!

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Anonymous Coward

Foil Hats

Foil Hats.. I think this is a great idea, and then the hippies can wear them out in the rain and thunderstorms, think of it as another form of population control, survival of the fittest, or rather survival of the intelligent.

Then they'll learn a lot about electromagnetic radiation in the form of a massive electrical discharge, there's nothing like first hand experience

(Do you think someone can set up a business selling WiFi protection hats containing an inner layer of aluminium foil? Put a waterproof coating on the outside and sell them as as suitable for use in the rain too..........oh, well, wishful thinking :)

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Cheap Laughs on a Serious Issue

This story is bouncing around the world, with every newspaper very happy to have something silly to publish. The fact is, there are health issues with low-level RF and microwave radiation, which is slowly increasing globally as our technology expands to use it more widely. There are biologists and physicians who document these health reactions to low-level EMF, but they are ignored in favor of the physics and engineering types to pooh-pooh any such problems. Governments are mostly on their side, as this is Big Business with billions at stake. So when they can find one or two nutters who -- by the way -- abuse the name and work of Wilhelm Reich, whose orgone energy discovery (see orgonelab.org, for example) is not much different from the modern-day idea of the invisible but powerful "Dark Matter" of astrophysics, well, they cannot restrain themselves, but will try to make a big ridicule and go for the cheap laugh. Your health is not of concern to them, nor to any newspaper that reports on serious issues with this kind of phoney (calculated) jocularity. Remember your Shakespeare: "Their buffonery is not innocent. They are the Kings jesters."

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