RF is killing bees!

I found this article and video interesting:  Study links bee decline to cell phones.

The article goes on about CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) where entire bee colonies die off for unknown reasons.  Some speculate that increased use of pesticides might be to blame (makes perfect sense to me).  Still others think that cell phone towers are the culprits.  Noting:

“Animals, including insects, use cryptochrome for navigation,” Goldsworthy told CNN.

“They use it to sense the direction of the earth’s magnetic field and their ability to do this is compromised by radiation from [cell] phones and their base stations. So basically bees do not find their way back to the hive.”

One study in India involved attaching a cell phone to the side of a bee hive and powering it on for two fifteen minute periods each day. These researchers found that the honey production in the hive dropped off and the hive queen’s egg laying was cut in half.

All of that is indeed interesting, but somehow I think that a lot of information is lacking.  First of all, any first year physics student can tell you, the RF field around a cellphone antenna decreases logarithmically as a function of distance.  In other words,  for each unit of distance away from the antenna, the power density decreases by 10 times.  Therefore, placing even a mobile phone directly on a bee hive will likely generate much higher RF fields than would otherwise be encountered, unless there was a bee hive in one of the cell tower antennas.

Secondly, there is no mention of power levels, although the frequency appears to be in the 900 MHz range, if this is the study (.pdf) being referred to in the article.

Finally, the compound referred to, cryptochrome, is also interesting.  Breaking the word down, one finds “Crypto” which means hidden, and “Chrome” which means color.  According to the Wikipedia article, which most often can be believed when it comes to such subjects, it is indeed used by some animals to detect magnetic fields.  However, RF used by cell phones has long been in use by other technologies such as two way radio, pagers, cordless phones, baby monitors, TV, early radar and other high power emitters.  It would be most unusual that RF induced CCD would just now be showing up.

In short, there is very very thin evidence that cell phone are causing CCD and it is a shame on CNN for propagating such non-sense without doing research.

Yeah, there is an app for that

In the never ending evolution of remote broadcasting equipment, Comrex has yet another way to connect to the studio with broadcast quality audio.  For use with their Comrex Bric-link or ACCESS equipment, they have authorized an iPhone app called Media5.   It requires a SIP account and costs $4.99 to download, which last time I checked, was pretty reasonable.  I am not surprised that remote equipment manufactures have tapped into the 3G/4G wireless networks that span most of the country.

Time was when a remote required ordering an equalized phone line from Ma Bell.  This usually required 2-4 weeks, depending on the local branch.  Spontaneous remotes were but a pipe dream.  Then came Marti with inexpensive RPU transmitters and receivers, this greatly reduced the lead time required for establishing remote broadcasts.  The downside to Marti equipment is it takes at least some technical know how to set up because of all the antennas and coax and such.

Comrex came on the market with Telephone Line frequency extenders then with 3 line comrex units (3XP/3XR).  A three line unit split the incoming audio into three different sections, reducing each to 300 to 3,400 Hz telco line base band.  At the other end, the answering unit changed the sections back to their original frequency range, then recombined them into pretty good sounding audio from 50 to 10,000 Hz or so.  I have used these units on several occasions.  I believe that one of the stations I work for still has one of these in their storage unit, along with several EFTs.

Latter, Comrex came out with POTS line codecs like the Hotline, Matrix and Blue box.  Now only one phone line was needed to do a remote. This greatly simplified remote availability and set up.  The downside to these is it had to be straight dial tone, no PBX’s or any thing like that.  A noisy line can create problems with audio quality and dropouts.

The Matrix can be used with ISDN and they used to have a GSM module to use with certain cellular networks.

The latest Comrex products include IP and VOIP capabilities.  These systems are great when a broadband WIFI networks is available to be used.  Unfortunately, an open WIFI with good signal strength is not always at hand.  So the 3G/4G option is a natural.