Skepchick Quickies 8.17

Amanda’s busy hunting the Yeticorn in Tunisia, so I’ve taken over the Quickies for today!

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor.

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  1. The science (mis)conceptions article was thought-provoking and well written but to get more attention it should have been headlined; “Blogger slaps scientists with his PNAS.”

    Instant readership from the very people who need to read this. :)

  2. @mrmisconception

    I just reread the pertinent part of the article and realized that the headline I suggested would be misleading. Instead it would have to read; “Blogger slaps scientists with their own PNAS.”

    There, that’s clearer.

  3. OK, this is enough to bring me out of hiding. At least for a few minutes:

    I’ve always been curious about people who claim to be sensitive to wi-fi transmissions. Not because I believe them, necessarily, but because developing an experiment to test the claim is fairly conceivable: build a room with a Faraday cage around it, and a wireless access point inside. Turn the WAP on and off at random intervals, and see if there’s a difference.

    All I need is a subject. And a few thousand dollars worth of building material. And experience in carpentry.

    Then I read this:

    The symptoms, which also include memory loss, trouble concentrating, skin rashes, hyperactivity, night sweats and insomnia, have been reported in 14 Ontario schools in Barrie, Bradford, Collingwood, Orillia and Wasaga Beach since the board decided to go wireless, said Mr. Palmer.

    I read that, and I think; I’ve got most of those symptoms. Maybe I’m Wi-Fi sensitive. Maybe I’ve got a subject already. That’s one thing off my checklist.

    Then I read this:

    “These kids are getting sick at school but not at home,”

    Um… Yeah, I had really bad insomnia when I was in school too. I found it really hard to sleep with the teacher banging on my desk yelling at me to wake up. And I was in school in the ’90s. Back when the only wireless we had to worry about was analogue cell phones.

    Oh well. So much for that theory.

  4. ““They are culpable and … they have the gall to go on the record and say they haven’t had any doctors’ notes. Well what doctor has been schooled about the rate of microwave infections?””

    How do you even begin to argue with that?

  5. I found a rather more reasonable article on the wi-fi decisions in Ontario. http://www.wi-fiplanet.com/columns/article.php/3591071/WLAN-Sickness-Rubbish-or-Reasonable.htm

    The university that banned it is taking the position that since its more of a convenience tool rather than a necessity, (the campus is entirely connected by fiber) its better to take a precautionary stance until the RFR effects are more thoroughly tested. They haven’t stopped the students from setting up wi-fi.

    Being a convenience junkie, I think I’ll wait until the surgeon general come out with a warning.

  6. “The parents complain they can’t get the Simcoe County school board or anyone else to take their concerns seriously, even though the children’s symptoms all disappear on weekends when they aren’t in school.”

    Imagine that. An illness that gets a child out of school, but is miraculously gone just in time for the weekend. That proves the kid isn’t faking it.

  7. Remote control worm is very cool, mainly because it’s yet another application of nanoparticles (what can’t these things do, Bob Novella?)
    But this is not the kick-assest remote controlled animal. Karl Deisseroth uses optogenetics and fiber optics to control mouse behaviour, and that is some craaazy shee-yit. Here’s a talk of his for those nerds who are interested:
    He starts showing off his remote-control mouse around minute 10. I saw him give this talk at a meeting at the NIH and there was much pants-pissing going on among the neuroscience geeks.

  8. C. elegans is 30-40% neurons (based on a vaguely-remembered article in Science News about 10 years ago.) Must be the most intelligent species on Earth. How do we know *they* aren’t running sophisticated neurological experiments on *us*?

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