Threats to health and life as we know it
4. Planes falling out of the sky
We’re all told that mobile phones shouldn’t be used while flying as they interfere with a plane’s “sensitive electronics”. Whatever the truth of that particular claim, it’s not as scary as what’s been happening in the US recently, where new 4G mobile technology has hit upon an unexpected problem – it’s jamming GPS singals!
The technology from LightSquared aims to provide 4G LTE mobile broadband across the US at super-fast speeds, ushering in a new era of smartphone services. Unfortunately, it jams GPS signals for up to 12 miles around each mobile tower.
This isn’t just bad for drivers – think of the effects on planes, which rely almost completely on GPS to know where they are. As General William Shelton of the US Air Force has said:
“within 3 to 5 miles on the ground and within about 12 miles in the air GPS is jammed by those towers…[the situation is] unbelievable.”
LightSquared believe they have a solution in the form of a filter that will stop the LTE network operating at frequencies that are affecting the GPS signal. But what if the filter fails? What if a software error causes the filter to block out the wrong frequency?
Or even worse – what if LightSquared decided to switch the filter off? OK, I’m descending into the underworld of James Bond here, but suppose Blofeld owned LightSquared and decided one day that he’d like to switch the filter off – unless the US government gave him, say, $1 billion!
Far-fetched, clearly, but the fact is the world’s planes and missiles will literally be dependent on the safe operation of a software filter – with an off switch! – developed by a private company in the hands of private individuals.
5. Brain Death
Are mobile phones bad for your health? It’s a question that’s been asked many many times, with everything from cancer scares to brain tumours being blamed on the microwave radiation emitted by a phone when a call is made.
The latest fear suggests that mobile phone users are five times more likely to develop brain tumours than non-mobile users.
The truth is still to be determined, simply because we don’t have the long-term results to know for sure whether mobile phone use is actually dangerous or not, but living in the age of the smartphone gives you an agonizing decision to make: keep your smartphone and risk a brain tumour, or ditch the smartphone and risk social isolation, boredom, and no more Angry Birds!
6. The Way of the exploding battery
The effects of mobile phone radiation may yet be unknown, but one thing that’s very definitely well known is the effects from an exploding mobile phone battery. And it happens more often than you think.
Two years ago in China, a man died because his mobile phone battery exploded while he was using the phone, severing an artery in his neck and causing him to bleed to death. That’s not nice!
In 2007, another phone battery exploded in China, causing chest wounds to its user that ultimately killed him.
From deaths to wounds to fires, dodgy batteries are the number one way your smartphone can kill you.
7. The End of the World!
Is the end of the world nigh? It is for bees, a species that’s seen a catastrophic decline in population over the past few years, and which we depend on for pretty much all the food we eat (no, we don’t eat bees and I don’t mean honey – bees are the primary means of pollination in 70 of the top 100 crops humanity depends on to feed itself).
No bees means our crops fail to reproduce, which in turn means that we all starve!
What’s this got to do with mobile phones? It turns out that the signals from mobile phones and phone masts may be the cause of this catastrophic decline in bee numbers.
The signals emitted by a phone when a call is made or received confuse the bees, making them disoriented. This in turn causes the bees to emit noise (the bee equivalent of getting harrassed!).
But a grumpy bee doesn’t just shout loudly. When several bees start dong the same thing, it acts as a signal to the whole swarm to abandon their hive.
The result is a swarm of bees abandoning hive after hive and whole areas of the world becoming bee-free zones.
The end of the world, then? Not yet, but an increasingly uncomfortable prospect if we carry on annoying the bees with our incessant mobile calls.
Are you afraid yet? I’ve only just scratched the surface! From threats to liberty to threats of all of human life, smartphones have changed our lives more than we ever knew!
But we still love ’em!
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