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Now, wireless electricity!

Posted by Arun Uday on June 8, 2007

Came across this news article, which states that scientists at the MIT have discovered a new way of transmitting electricity without wires. While I believe that it may be some time (maybe even a long time, if ever) before it becomes mainstream and actually starts powering heavy duty appliances like heaters or washing machines, the immediate utility of this technology would be for stuff such as mobile phone recharging, laptop operations etc. It is not hard to conceive that this technology could in short time, find its way into airport terminals and hotel lounges for cell phone or laptop recharge.
As a technologist, the possibilities no doubt excite me. However, there is a flip side, which is – concerns on electromagnetic pollution. The technology is based on transmission of electromagnetic waves, and the side effects of pervasive use of this should be thoroughly investigated before we jump to adopt it. The fact that we are not going to be using this for just communication related activities, but for transmitting power would obviously imply that the radiation would be very strong. There are already various concerns being expressed w.r.t harmful side effects of cell phone related radiation. A simple Google search on this topic will yield innumerable articles on this issue. For instance, this video news snippet suggests that the death of bees in the US on a massive scale could be the consequence of cell phone radiation. I was also speaking to a telecom professional recently and he mentioned that the disappearance of sparrows in our Indian cities could perhaps be attributed to the same reason. (As an aside, I remember from my childhood days, we had a huge mango tree in our courtyard which used to be filled with chirping sparrows. Nowadays, there are nothing but crows squatting there all the time). In my opinion, this issue warrants serious research since wireless devices, WiFi/Wimax hubs etc are getting increasingly pervasive. And the very nature of this technology means that unlike other forms of pollution such as air or noise pollution, we can never see, feel, sense or smell any of what could be hitting us all the time. I think it is about time we have such issues thoroughly probed.

Posted in electromagnetic pollution, wireless electricity | 4 Comments »