By The Associated Press - Sunday, December 23, 2012 - 0 Comments
CHICAGO – If the wireless Internet connection during your holiday flight seems more reliable…
CHICAGO – If the wireless Internet connection during your holiday flight seems more reliable than it used to, you could have the humble potato to thank.
While major airlines offer in-flight Wi-Fi on many flights, the signal strength can be spotty. Airlines and aircraft makers have been striving to improve this with the growing use of wireless devices and the number of people who don’t want to be disconnected, even 35,000 feet (10,700 metres) up.
Engineers at Chicago-based Boeing Co. used sacks of potatoes as stand-ins for passengers as they worked to eliminate weak spots in in-flight wireless signals. They needed full planes to get accurate results during signal testing, but they couldn’t ask people to sit motionless for days while data was gathered.
“That’s where potatoes come into the picture,” Boeing spokesman Adam Tischler said.
By Peter Nowak - Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 12:50 PM - 2 Comments
Halloween isn’t the only time when everybody seems to enjoy being frightened. We must enjoy it year round, given the steady diet of fear the media keeps us on. It’s particularly true in the technology world. Over the past year, we’ve had the ongoing Wi-Fi cancer scare, more stories about the potential problems with biotechnology and lots and lots of attention paid to how the Internet is threatening our privacy.
Alas, a glance through time shows this is nothing new. People have been worrying about the effects of new technology since, well, fire.
Here, then, are five great examples from history. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, July 29, 2011 at 2:53 PM - 50 Comments
For a politician to be frightened of a tiny, low-voltage device that generates a shadow of nature’s everyday state, at a natural frequency, betrays an unacceptable level of disdain for basic science and knowledge of nature … No branch of science is ever closed. Science is itself the search for new information, and is constantly improving; but when fundamentals are well understood and then confirmed by decades of testing, we can usually be pretty well assured that any new discoveries will not be as Earth-shattering as some politicians seem to fear.
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, August 24, 2010 at 7:27 PM - 0 Comments
“Cold War weapons expert warns Wi-Fi could cause birth defects” cries the National Post, heralding Barrie Trower’s arrival unto the good microwave-fearing people of Simcoe County. Who is Barrie Trower, you ask?
Barrie Trower, who specialized in microwave “stealth” warfare during the Cold War, was to lecture at the University of Toronto on Tuesday night…
“When I realized these same frequencies and powers [as weapons during the Cold War] were being used as Wi-Fi in schools, I decided to come out of retirement and travel around the world free of charge and explain exactly what the problem is going to be in the future,” Mr. Trower told Postmedia News in an interview on Tuesday.
…“What you are doing in schools is transmitting at low levels,” said Mr. Trower, who teaches at Britain’s Dartmoor College and holds a degree in physics.
You will notice what’s very specifically not been said here, which is that Mr. Trower teaches physics at a university. Lest anyone should carelessly arrive at this impression, it ought to be said that what the Post calls “Dartmoor College” is South Dartmoor Community College, a state comprehensive school for children aged 11-18. They are doubtless lucky to have a “weapons expert” like Mr. Trower on staff (assuming he is on staff), although it is damned hard to be a military expert in anything for any length of time without inadvertently getting your name on any patents or peer-reviewed papers to speak of. Trower has said he worked for what he called the “Government Microwave Warfare Establishment”; it’s possible the Post judged this a strong claim after Googling “Government Microwave Warfare Establishment“, or just “Microwave Warfare Establishment“, and finding links to loads of pages related to Barrie Trower and not much else. Excellent work.
[UPDATE, 1:15 a.m. Eastern: the Post's original story has vanished from the Web, so you'll have to visit the Vancouver Sun's site to read it.]