Prof Hector Schlenk, senior researcher at the Bogton Institute for Public Engagement with Science:
As a scientist, people are always asking me questions (at the moment by shouting them at me though my living room window), questions such as “When will it be safe to lift the current restrictions?”, “When will a vaccine for Covid-19 be available?” and “Why can’t you close your curtains when you’re leaping around to Joe Wicks in your underpants?” But this week people have mostly been asking me if 5G masts are somehow “spreading” coronavirus.
We have even seen support for this proposition from media titans the likes of Amanda Holden and Eamonn Holmes; the latter curiously railing against the “mainstream media” whilst presenting the famously edgy and non-conformist This Morning on daytime ITV.
But with arson attacks on phone masts hampering emergency communications in the middle of a pandemic, it falls to we scientists to do our bit to combat the tide of misinformation which, even now, is clouding the judgement of the kind of people who seem to be incapable of observing the One Way arrows on the floor of Asda.
5G is, like 4G and 3G before it, simply a new faster generation of mobile internet, utilising the electromagnetic spectrum to transmit its signal, usually between 3.4 and 3.6 gigahertz. Gigahertz (or GHz) is a unit of measurement for electromagnetic wave frequency and not, as you may think, the name of an extremely large rental van.
All electromagnetic waves transfer energy as radiation. In the case of 5G, at a very low frequency, certainly compared to the 300GHz of microwaves, which can be harmful if you find yourself inside a small box with a lot of them, or indeed the 430,000GHz of visible light, which is not believed to be harmful to anyone, apart from Goths.
More potentially damaging forms of radiation like UV rays, X-rays and gamma rays are much further along the electromagnetic spectrum, which is why the 5G rollout hasn’t resulted in people becoming unexpectedly sun tanned, see-through, or turning green and splitting their trousers.
Crucially, the 5G wave band, which includes radio and mobile phone signals, is what we scientists call “non-ionising”, which sounds like the description of a moisturiser from Laboratoire Garnier, but actually means that it lacks sufficient power to cause cellular damage.
In short, 5G poses no danger, because, like all parents of young children now entering the 5th week of lockdown, it simply doesn’t have enough energy.
But, crucially, even if 5G’s radio waves were harmful, they would still have nothing whatsoever to do with the current pandemic, which is caused by a virus passed from one infected person to another.
Viruses and electromagnetic waves are two entirely different things. They are as different from each other as a balloon is from the wind; and significantly more different than a balloon is from Eamonn Holmes.
Cava Kenny Cordiner, the football pundit whose first touch is a tackle
Old Kenny often finds the politics of Scottish football seriously perspexing, but this past week has seen me hit the depths of a new high in confusement.
Call me old-fashioned, but I always think football matters should be settled on the pitch – or in the dressing room after the game if some nugget has looked at me funny. But as the days go by it looks more and more likely that this season the Scottish leagues will be decided over a group chat on Zoomba.
When I sat down to write this, Melody says to me, she says “Kenny, maybe you should give your readers a bullet-proof summary of what’s gone on this week”. So here goes:
Numero uno – It looks like the clubs in the bottom three leagues have agreed that the season is officially null and devoid.
Numero punto – That means Cove, Raith and Dundee United have won their titles without kicking a ball (apart from all that balls what they kicked before the Codona’s Virus reared its head).
Numero clio – But Dundee played silly beggars with their voting slip. They had more flip-flops than a fine day at Balmedie Beach.
Once they finally made up their mind up, Stranraer and Partick Thistle was relegated. I think.
But the best bit about it is what might happen with the SPL. With United getting promoted, they have to decide whether or not someone is getting relegated. So the beaks at the SFA has set up a task force to look into it with Ann Budgie from Hearts and Les Gray from Hamilton in charge – that’s the 2 clubs in the bottom spots. It’s like asking the condoned man to test the gallows for strength and comfort.
I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing we could get back to normal. Sure – the health and safety of the general population is one reason. But I is also looking forward to being able to read the back pages without a calculator and a copy of Roger The Saurus!