Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Screwing up the science

Is it just me, or did anyone else (obviously, not the copy editors at my local paper) catch the junk science of this lede on a story* by Julie Deardorff of the Chicago Tribune?

Cell phones can't actually get hot enough to pop popcorn, regardless of what you may have seen on YouTube. But some do have other unexpected abilities that just might help improve your quality of life.
Well, no. Cell phones don't get hot enough to pop popcorn because it has nothing to do with
cell phones getting hot. Why do you think in those YouTube hoaxes they have the antennas pointed at the kernels? If the phone itself was getting hot, why not just pull out a package of Jiffy Pop and plop the aluminum pan on the phone?

The idea, since discredited as a hoax, was that the phones gave off enough radio energy to approximate a microwave oven. The microwaves make the water molecules in an object rise to new energy levels, thus producing the heat. It has nothing to do with the phone itself getting hot.

But after reading that kind of junk science in the lede, it sure makes one wonder about how much she knows about the rest of what she writes in that column. Would have been nice if an editor had suggested a slight tweak. Just sayin' ...

(*Thsi apparently started as a blog post at the Tribune in late July. It did not make it to my local paper till yesterday.)

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