Thursday, December 26, 2013

My Cress Seeds Grew Beside my Wifi Router

This is a close-up photo of my cress sprouts in the basement.

This is a close-up photo of my cress sprouts beside the wifi router in my study. If anything, these look healthier than the basement sprouts, and certainly had a higher sprouting rate.

In most science classes, teachers give a definition of truth that would cause philosophers to cringe: Truth is repeatable data.

When I read about 5 ninth grade girls in Denmark who reported that their cress seeds did not grow when placed near a wifi router, I had to try the experiment my self.

“Take 400 cress seeds and divide them into 12 trays. Then place the trays in two rooms at the same temperature, six in each room. Give the trays the same amount of water and sunlight over 12 days, but expose six of the trays to mobile phone radiation.”

“Six trays of seeds were placed in a room with no radiation, while six were placed in another room alongside two routers emitting roughly the same type of radiation as an ordinary mobile phone.”

“Then the girls just had to wait 12 days, observe, measure, weigh and take photos. The results spoke for themselves: the cress seeds alongside the routers did not grow at all, and some even mutated or died.”

The final sentence “did not grow at all, and some even mutated or died” does not make sense. A plant can’t mutate or die if it didn’t grow.  And a close look at the photo of the “sick” seeds does show some green that could be leaves.  In fact, that tray looks much like my sprouts do in the morning when I’d forgotten to water them.  Within 2 hours of watering, my sprouts usually perk up again.

But I don’t usually sprout cress on a towel.  I sprout fenugreek, or broccoli, or radishes.

So, I decided to duplicate the Denmark high school girls’ experiment.

I wasn’t able to exactly duplicate their environment.  I placed one tray of cress seeds on a damp towel beside my router, which is in my study right next to a heat vent.  Because it’s winter, and on the 2nd floor of my house, my study is one of the warmest rooms in the house.   In order to place the other tray far away from the wifi router, I put it in the basement where I usually grow my sprouts.  The basement is cooler and it has a grow lamp on a 12 hours on / 12 hours off timer cycle.  If anything, the basement sprouts had several advantages over the study sprouts.

The seeds in both locations took 5 days to sprout.  The seeds in my study sprouted a few hours before the seeds in the basement.  By day 8, both sets of seeds had healthy green leaves.

The morning of the 9th day, I noticed that I’d forgotten to water the seed in my study.  They looked nearly dead, like the ones in the girls’ photo.  But I watered them.  Within 2 hours, they were standing up again and looked healthy as ever.  Just like any other sprout I’ve ever grown.
I note here that the seeds in my study, beside the router, next to the heat vent,  did need more water than the seeds in the basement under the grow lamp.  But the main point here is that both trays of seeds grew nicely.  The proximity to the wifi router had no effect.

I don’t know how to reach these girls, but I suggest that they try their experiment again.  Since there were 5 of them, each girl could do the experiment in her own home. I do not think they can duplicate their results.  I certainly couldn’t. 

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