Share your voice FCC 6 Mobile FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says lawmakers need not worry about 5G safety concerns. / Getty Images FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is trying to quell fears among lawmakers that 5G radios are dangerous to health. On Thursday, the chairman sent a series of letters to lawmakers in response to inquiries about health concerns related to 5G that been sent to him in the past couple of months. In each of the letters he said that the FCC places a “high priority on the safety of wireless services and devices.” He said the agency’s guidelines for RF exposure are derived from guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the industry group the IEEE and the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements. “The FCC relies on the expertise of health and safety agencies and organizations with respect to appropriate levels of RF exposure,” he said. “These institutions have extensive experience and knowledge in RF-related issues and have spent a considerable amount of time evaluating published scientific studies that can inform appropriate exposure limits.”The response comes as concerns about the safety of 5G wireless technology has been increasing among lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Three Congressmen in the past two months have sent letters to the agency expressing their concerns about potential negative health effects due to exposure to radio frequencies used in delivering 5G wireless service. Representatives Andy Kim, a Democrat from New Jersey, Thomas Suozzi, a Democrat from New York, and Peter Defazio, a Democrat from Oregon, say their constituents are worried that 5G radios, which are being deployed atop street lights every few blocks in many communities, may have negative effects that are still unknown. “Small cell towers are being installed in residential neighborhoods in close proximity to houses throughout my district,” said Rep. Suozzi in his letter. “I have heard instances of these antennae being installed on light poles directly outside the window of a young child’s bedroom. Rightly so, my constituents are worried that should this technology be proven hazardous in the future, the health of their families and value of their properties would be at serious risk.”5G, which refers to the fifth generation of cellular technology, is the next big thing in wireless technology and it’s been hailed as the foundation for other big trends like self-driving cars and streaming virtual reality.Unlike previous generations of wireless, 5G will require up to five times the amount of infrastructure as 3G or 4G deployments. The big promise of 5G — a massive leap in speed — requires the use of super high-frequency radio waves, called millimeter-wave spectrum, that are limited by range and obstructions like trees. The result is a network requiring radios on every city block, versus 4G gear that transmits signals over miles.What this means is that there could be nearly 800,000 of these so-called small cells deployed in the US between 2018 and 2026 to provide 5G, according to a study commissioned by the wireless industry trade group CTIA. In a separate report, CTIA estimates that roughly 323,000 cell sites were in service at the end of 2017.Rep. Kim said in his letter that the FCC noted that the agency has not updated its regulations regarding radiofrequency RF safety since 1996. He also pointed out that the current RF safety guidelines don’t account for the higher frequencies that 5G service uses or the fact that so many more radios are needed to achieve 5G service coverage. He asked the FCC to answer a series of questions about what research has been conducted as it relates to the safety of 5G.”Despite the close proximity to sensitive areas where these high-band cells will be installed, little research has been conducted to examine 5G safety,” he said. He added that the FCC has admitted that its guidelines need to be reassessed with respect to the use of newer wireless technologies. Rep. Defazio noted that the Government Accountability Office made a similar recommendation in 2012. “It is unacceptable that six years later the FCC still has not conducted a reassessment of its 1996 guidelines,” Defazio said in his letter.In his letters, Pai noted that the FCC has had an open proceeding to address updating its guidelines since 2013. And he assured the lawmakers the agency is working through the “voluminous” record to see if anything needs to be changed or updated. But he did not address specific concerns brought up in the letters. He also offered to bring congressional staff into the FCC’s testing facility in Columbia, Maryland so that they could “see and speak with our engineers and technicians as they operate the RF testing equipment.”Pai’s response is consistent with comments he made to the press in April. When asked about the issue during a press conference in April, Pai acknowledged that the nature of 5G “will be very different” than 4G, since it relies on small cells. But he said that the radios operate at much lower power than traditional cell sites. He added that “from that perspective, I am confident that in consultation with the FDA, which is the lead on this issue, that the technology will be safe.” Tags Comments
To be clear, Wright is not suggesting that he believes such forms of life once existed or that there is any evidence of them, as some in the media have suggested. Instead, he is merely suggesting that as part of a thorough search for alien life forms, we ought to include those that might once have been nearby, but who, for whatever reason, either left or went extinct. He notes that most current research involved in looking for life beyond Earth is focused on finding biosignatures—evidence of extraterrestrial life that is still alive today, including simple microbes.Evidence of extinct aliens would likely be difficult if not impossible to find on Earth, he notes, due to plate tectonics, weather etc., if timelines of millions of years are considered. But other bodies in the solar system are capable of holding onto material for very long time periods due to subsurface features that offer protection from meteor strikes and solar radiation—examples might include asteroids or moons, which, if aliens did ever visit our solar system, would have provided both shelter and privacy. He notes that technosignatures could come in a variety of forms—from evidence of mining to materials that could not have formed naturally.Wright suggests that some effort ought to be made seeking technosignatures, both here on our home planet (in rock that is millions or even billions of years old, perhaps) and as we study planets, their moons and other objects in the solar system capable of harboring evidence. © 2017 Phys.org Citation: Astronomer ponders the idea of looking for long extinct intelligent alien life (2017, May 2) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2017-05-astronomer-ponders-idea-extinct-intelligent.html Explore further More information: Prior Indigenous Technological Species, arXiv:1704.07263 [astro-ph.EP] arxiv.org/abs/1704.07263AbstractOne of the primary open questions of astrobiology is whether there is extant or extinct life elsewhere the Solar System. Implicit in much of this work is that we are looking for microbial or, at best, unintelligent life, even though technological artifacts might be much easier to find. SETI work on searches for alien artifacts in the Solar System typically presumes that such artifacts would be of extrasolar origin, even though life is known to have existed in the Solar System, on Earth, for eons. But if a prior technological, perhaps spacefaring, species ever arose in the Solar System, it might have produced artifacts or other technosignatures that have survived to present day, meaning Solar System artifact SETI provides a potential path to resolving astrobiology’s question. Here, I discuss the origins and possible locations for technosignatures of such a prior indigenous technological species, which might have arisen on ancient Earth or another body, such as a pre-greenhouse Venus or a wet Mars. In the case of Venus, the arrival of its global greenhouse and potential resurfacing might have erased all evidence of its existence on the Venusian surface. In the case of Earth, erosion and, ultimately, plate tectonics may have erased most such evidence if the species lived Gyr ago. Remaining indigenous technosignatures might be expected to be extremely old, limiting the places they might still be found to beneath the surfaces of Mars and the Moon, or in the outer Solar System. Recently discovered solar system could seed life between adjacent exoplanets Journal information: arXiv This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Credit: CC0 Public Domain (Phys.org)—Jason Wright, an astronomy professor at Penn State, has uploaded a paper to the arXiv preprint sever that addresses the issue of whether we have looked hard enough for extinct alien life—particularly intelligent forms of extraterrestrial life. In his paper, he questions whether enough effort is being put into looking for evidence of space-faring alien life forms (technosignatures) that are now extinct but who might have left behind evidence of their existence here in our own solar system—everything here is much closer, he notes, than the next-nearest star system.