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Premise: Neurologists found that GHz wireless RF had modest but quite negative effects on people's brains. Subtle collective effects in neuronal firing patterns across the brain due to interactions with the EM fields within the skull lead to enhanced feelings of angst and frustration with the world causing them to lash out on the internet using their... GHz wireless RF devices.

The angst-enhancing effects were slow to decay, and so the cumulative exposure over any 24 hour period was the metric for evaluating reduction of exposure.

The effect saturated at fairly low fields, so the exposure to a device a few meters away or a cell tower or router even farther was equally as bad as holding a device close to the head.


In order to quickly help people reduce their exposure to the signals, governments and Stack Exchange users struggled to develop a scheme that would allow people to continue using their devices while significantly lowering their exposure. Tin foil hats were proposed, and DIY stores quickly ran out of rolls of metal window screen as people were "wallpapering" their homes and designating unused spaces as "RF rooms".

Question: What were the more clever and effective ways proposed over the following weeks to allow people to get wireless signals in and out of and between their current devices without getting much into their heads? Those using household and readily available materials are of particular interest.

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    $\begingroup$ Your tinfoil hat sounded like a great idea. Conductive metal sheets are great at stopping EM fields. $\endgroup$ – Rafael Mar 22 at 0:24
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh I suggest adding a Premise label before the description of EM waves. It can be hard to tell if something is a world building premise or a real world belief. $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee Mar 22 at 3:28
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    $\begingroup$ @Shadowzee thanks, I've made an edit, is that what you mean? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 22 at 3:43
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    $\begingroup$ To kinda state the obvious: the internet is not made of GHz communication links. It is mostly fibre and copper, at least for now. You only have to go back 20 years to find a world where most people used hard-wired connections for their internets; returning to that state would be unpopular but eminently achievable. Old mobile phones are sub-ghz, so just go out and chop down all the 3+g masts, and do a bit of wardriving to find all your neighbours with wifi and... have a quiet word with them? $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Mar 22 at 7:33
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    $\begingroup$ Yeah, I wasn't going to bother turning it into an answer, but it is a point that should be born in mind. We can live without high-bandwidth RF tranmissions, and you don't even have to be a weird luddite wire-user. We do have technologies that can replace wifi and (to a certain extent) bluetooth, though they're no substitute for 3+g mobile comms. See: passive optical networking and free space optical networking for example. $\endgroup$ – Starfish Prime Mar 22 at 7:56
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The answer, unfortunately, is very straight forward, cut, and dry, because you over-constrained the problem.

Your options to deal with GHz RF are:

  • Modify the devices. If they cease to use GHz RF or can use techniques like beam-shaping to reduce the energy going through human skulls, that solves problems. However, you explicitly state "current devices," and these devices are not designed to beam shape to solve this problem.
  • Add something between the device and the head. Tin foil hats are the best example. Unfortunately, you explicitly state that there's a run on such materials. You also state that people are doing large scale protections to rooms, which means the DIY'ers are clearly not limiting themselves to materials like tin foil which can be shaped easily. Clearly your DIY'ers have exhausted all materials which can be used to block RF signals between two points.
  • Change the laws of physics. I don't think this is quite where you were going.
  • Change your head. Hmmmm.

You could surgically install a Faraday cage within people's heads. A Faraday cage just outside the skull would block a remarkable amount of the RF, just like the tin foil masks did. However, it avoids the material shortage issues (I guarantee you the DIYers weren't working in surgical grade titanium) and, after healing, will not have the negative social implications of tin foil masks. More advanced solutions may metalize the bones of the skull themselves.

Or you can start giving people anti-anxiety and frustration suppressants. Technically this doesn't answer the question, which was how to keep RF out of the brain, but there's a bit of an XY problem here. The problem isn't the RF. The problem is the anxiety and frustration. Solving the RF problem is only one way to solve things.

And it's easy to market too. "Just pop one of these pills every morning, and you can safely check Facebook, Stack Exchange, and cat videos all day long. (side effects may include nausea, vomiting, and other side effects typically associated with Facebook addiction and poorly timed YouTube advertisements)."

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! Yes, in at least part of the world anti-anxiety medications count as household and/or readily available materials.;-) But I think it's the OP's prerogative to constrain the question, no? I'm just looking for the first set of recommendations over the following weeks, and I can't imagine head surgery would be on that list. When there's fear of anthrax the authorities recommend duct tape and Visqueen, not immunological gene therapy. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 29 at 22:53
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    $\begingroup$ You can restrict it as you like. It just limits the feasibility of answering the question. Aluminum foil is produced at 220 rolls/second, at current rates. Two rolls can cover a reasonable room, so over 100 people per second get to foil their rooms, without increases in production. It should take less than a month for the entirety of America to have covered a room in foil, so I assumed the run on foil meant we were looking at really strange scenarios. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Mar 29 at 23:00
  • $\begingroup$ Supply chains can have problems with unexpected transients. I'm sure foil and metal window screen manufacturing can accommodate a new demand after some response time, but perhaps not right away. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 29 at 23:09
  • $\begingroup$ Those transients will vanish in a month, so we are targeting those who are so unbearably addicted to their devices that 30 days of relying on wired computers only isn't an option, right? $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Mar 29 at 23:25
  • $\begingroup$ Right. I asked only about the short term, feeling that asking for both short term and long term might be too broad. It's my first question here and it was a judgment call: "Question: What were the more clever and effective ways proposed over the following weeks..." It's probably too late to open up the question to long term solutions as well. Thanks again for your feedback. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 29 at 23:36
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You've gotten your home/building/workplace properly secured from errant GHz waves and have a wired connection connecting that place to the internets. You now need to answer the question of how to propagate wireless data signals so as not to be tied to a wire like some sort of trapped animal, while still not using the dangerous and unfashionable GHz-based wireless.

Ladies and gentlemen, governments and Stack Exchange, may I present to you...

Li-Fi

This technology allows for the propagation of digital signals utilizing LED bulbs. The bulbs pulse rapidly - so rapidly that the human eye can't detect it - and those pulses are captured by photosensors on your device. The sensors interpret the pulses as digital information, which is then fed to the wireless device. The device may then respond in kind by using its own small LED bulb, and thus the process is repeated.

You may be thinking, "But I want to be able to turn off my lights and still get data," or, "Is my phone going to be constantly blinking while I use it?"

Worry not!

Your concerns are alleviated, as this technology can operate in the infrared, ultraviolet, and visible light spectrums (all of which are completely harmless and safe).

There are also numerous other benefits. Any building with lights can be quickly adapted to this tech, as all one really needs to do is introduce all the proper LED bulbs to the lighting systems along with a comms hub and some photo sensors. This process introduces absolutely zero EM interference into your environment, and is not effected by interference once in motion, unlike silly GHz systems. Also, do to the capacity of these systems for speed and performance, it is possible to transmit data a rate in the multiple gigabits per second range - and even in the hundreds Gbps - easily beating out sluggish GHz systems.

Last but most certainly not least, this system is proven to work over long distances as well, which means sections of the comms grid could be replaced with this technology while GHz system cleanup efforts are under way.

Thank you for you time!

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If you have sort of metal making a helmet out of it would be good. So your tinfoil hats, cooking pot helmets all help. Any direct shielding between you and the phone will also help, so a Pan which is too flat to wear can still block the signals.

Outside of that, you simply need to increase the amount of material between you and the phone. So maybe 20 meters of concrete. The more between you and the phone the better and if its conductive, thats better. Not much else you can do.

The biggest issue is with the premise of your question. EM fields are everywhere and the dangerous reactive ones will often react with the air, your skin and water in your body before hitting key and important brain cells. Proposing that the frequencies released by your phone are dangerous would make visible light extremely dangerous and UV even more so because they will naturally contain more energy. Other technologies such as the Microwaves, Xrays (doctors, dentists, airports), electricity (powerlines) and magnets (like the giant magnetic field protecting us from the radiation from the sun) would also create issues.

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  • $\begingroup$ "EM fields are everywhere" but GHz RF usually has specific sources that can be shielded. Once the house is lined with wire screen the EM inside should be pretty low. "Not much else you can do." How about putting your phone in a wire mesh bag and bringing in RF from outside with a piece of coax from the local hardware store just for example? I don't think it's so hopeless. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 22 at 3:46
  • $\begingroup$ "...because they will naturally contain more energy" that's just not true, the mechanism proposed is non-ionizing and so it's related to the strength of the EM field, not the energy of the individual photons. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 22 at 3:58
  • $\begingroup$ @uhoh Having your entire house shielded and then having an extra source to get the signal from the outside to the inside is a bit pointless unless your devices are all wired. The coax cable would still need to output a reasonably strong signal to ensure that you have uniform coverage across the entire house. $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee Mar 22 at 5:00
  • $\begingroup$ The indoor end of the coax (with a short bit of exposed wire as an antenna) can go into the wire mesh bag along with the phone. This provides the phone with direct access to the outside world via the outdoor end of the coax, attached to another short bit of wire as antenna. Again, it's just an example or an existence proof. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Mar 22 at 5:02
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh I believe you are talking about a traditional handset phone and not a mobile phone anymore. $\endgroup$ – Shadowzee Mar 22 at 5:09

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