October 17th, 2006

baratron, silly

mobile phones, they cook your head?

A few weeks ago when I had a cold, I sent Richard out to buy a new mammal thermometer, as the Feverscan forehead thermometer in the cupboard had an expiry date of 2005. For some reason he wasn't able to buy a new Feverscan thermometer - the only ones they had in Boots said they were only suitable for kids "up to age 12". So he bought a ridiculously sophisticated Braun in-the-ear thermometer that cost about £40, which is basically a home version of the type of thermometers they use to check your temperature in hospital. Just like the house thermometer we have, it is battery-powered and records temperatures to the nearest 0.1 degrees C. Unlike the room thermometer, it has a memory which stores the last N temperatures recorded, and came with 25 disposable plastic caps for hygiene between different users. Of course, we are geeks & technophiles, so it will probably be unsurprising that I've become completely obsessed with checking my temperature :)

So I can tell you that my normal waking temperature is 36.9 degrees C; my normal daytime temperature is 37.0 degrees C; and my normal just-before-sleep temperature is 36.6 degrees C. This confirms to me that the hospital was crazy to start panicking and feeding me paracetamol every time my recorded temperature was 37.0 on one of those thermometers - I'd thought it was entirely within the range of normal. Should I ever be unlucky enough to be in hospital again, I doubt they'll believe me if I tell them "37.0 is normal for me", but whatever.

It's an in-the-ear thermometer, right? So the results are influenced by anything hot I might have been placing close to my ear, like mobile phones. Now, the possible cancer-causing effects of mobile phones are highly controversial - basically because if it's true, it screws up a lot of basic wave physics. Collapse )

Why was I thinking about all this anyway? Well, I measured the temperature in my left ear, that had been against a hot phone for 20 minutes, and it was 37.6 degrees C. The corresponding temperature in my right ear was only 37.3 degrees C. Two minutes later, these had dropped to 37.3 degrees C (left ear) and 37.1 degrees C (right). Temperature, even quoted in kelvin, isn't on an absolute scale --> doubling the temperature doesn't mean there's twice as much heat energy present, so it's hard to know these numbers mean; let alone what difference an increase in my ear's temperature of 0.6 degrees C over 20 minutes could make to the long-term health of my cells. I still need to do a control run where I simply lie in bed with one ear pressed against the pillow for 20 minutes, as lying on one side is something the manual of the thermometer says will make a difference to recorded temperature. But it was enough of a difference for me to notice & sit here doing bad maths on for several hours.

I wanted to get you some references for all of the stuff mentioned below the cut, but Wikipedia's Electromagnetic radiation hazard and Wireless electronic devices and health both referenced the page The Dangers Of Electro Magnetic Radiation (EMF), which I am finding impossible to take seriously. Somehow, I tend not to trust "science" when it's spouted by a so-called medical professional in combination with such wonders as "You may choose not to wear a quartz-analog watch because it radiates pulsating EMFs along your acupuncture meridians." Riiiiight. Apparently, "Eyeglass frames should ideally be made from plastic with no wires in them, otherwise they can serve as an antenna to focus the radio and cellular phone waves directly into your brain." Uh-huh. I recommend aluminium foil helmets to anyone concerned about such things.

I do trust the World Health Organisation, but their factsheet Electromagnetic fields and public health: mobile telephones and their base stations dates from June 2000 and there's been a lot of new research since then. Wikipedia's Mobile phone radiation and health has more recent references, but I'm really far too tired to plough through them to see which seem reliable tonight.

Also, Collapse )I am a nerd.
opinion, eye

race relations British tabloid style

Today's piece of non-news: 98% of Daily Express readers would like the "full-face Muslim veil" banned.

I'm looking forward to tomorrow's news article, where they mention that:

  • 95% of Daily Express readers would like Britain to withdraw from the EU.
  • 80% lament the loss of "Christian Britain".
  • 70% of the lamenters of "Christian Britain" haven't actually stepped foot in a church in 20 years yet still resent all the "non-Christians".
  • 50% would like Muslims banned.
  • 33% would like all Muslims "sent back to where they came from".
  • 25% would like all the "darkies", no matter what religion, to be "sent back to where they came from".
lego

procrastination

I have invoices to do. I really hate doing invoices, which is a problem for me being self-employed. I've discovered that my will to live is sucked slightly less if I'm on irc at the same time, as the illusion of company makes me feel supported - but it still isn't enough to stop me getting depressed. I can't listen to music because - even though I have music in my head all the time I'm not actively listening to it, and even though I can focus on my work with music on perfectly well in all other circumstances, I can't when I'm doing accounting as I hate the job sufficiently to use any excuse to procrastinate.

Why do I hate doing invoices? I find them really stressful. By the standards of my mathematical ability, it's extremely simple arithmetic to add up a column of numbers, but I get myself very stressed out by what will happen if i make a mistake. It also stresses me if I add it up twice to check and get 2 different answers and don't know why. Of course, in the real world, what happens if I make a mistake and don't notice is that I overcharge or undercharge someone this month and make it up next month. It's entirely trivial to make that correction. But I worry that a bad invoice would make me look incompetent and this would reflect poorly on my ability to teach science. Yes, I'm aware this is illogical. Cognitive behavioural therapy is a wonderful thing, and I've managed to get rid of a lot of my insecurities and negative thinking that way - but some craziness persists even in the light of logic.

It's really impressive how I manage to procrastinate while doing them. So far I've written one line in my accounts book, chatted on irc for 20 minutes or so, made myself dinner, checked a couple of web comics, and written a livejournal entry. Any excuse at all. Hrm. Like I can't carry on with my invoice because I'm still writing this lj entry. Yes, really! ...

Edit @ 21:23: Collapse )