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WiFi-Phobic

6:00 PM -- Proving that ignorance is not merely a south-of-the-Great-Lakes phenomenon, a Canadian university is limiting the proliferation of WiFi networks on campus because of the possible health effects of radio transmissions.

Coming straight out of the same textbook that claims that electrical power lines and cellphones can cause brain tumors, some inconclusive studies have claimed to find links between radio-frequency transmissions and disease, including leukemia.

Whenever I hear about something like this I always think of the guy who went snorkeling in a metal helmet so he wouldn't catch any germs from the seawater. He drowned, of course. The point being that to concern yourself with the almost certainly infinitesimal risks of getting brain cancer from a WiFi network is to focus on the wrong set of risks, to put it mildly.

I'm sure the officials at Lakehead University (aptly named, I'd say) have come in for plenty of ridicule since this story emerged last week. I'm sure they're well-intentioned. But I'm guessing Lakehead students are at a lot more risk from cafeteria food than they are from ambient radio transmissions.

Equally befuddled is Carleton University computer science professor Jorg-Rudiger Sack, who claims (in The Register's story about Lakehead U.) that the on-campus benefits of WiFi are far less than in places like airports. I'm not sure what it's like at Carleton, but try telling that to any undergrad on just about any large American campus.

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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