The charges that cell phones damage the brain have died down, perhaps because newer phones emit less radiation. But a recent study shows how cell phone radiation may damage red blood cells, leading to the claims that they cause brain cancer and other diseases.

Swedish physicist Bo Sernelius has discovered that the radiation from cell phones increases the pressures on red blood cells. Before this, scientists thought the radiation from the phones could only damage cells if it was strong enough to break their chemical bonds, but it’s too weak to do this.

However, Sernelius found that inside red blood cells, water molecules have poles with positive and negative charges, which create the forces between the cells, which are normally extremely weak. He created a mathematical model showing that electromagnetic radiation of 850 megahertz?as used by cell phones?caused red blood cells to all end up with their poles aligned in the same direction. Even stronger forces between cells might make them clump together or contract.

These results have only been obtained by computer modeling and so far, there is no actual evidence that this happens. Michael Clark, of the National Radiological Protection Board, says, “You can do anything with numbers. It is very interesting, but I can’t get excited about it until somebody measures it [inside the body].”

Now for some good news about cell phones: James Randerson writes in New Scientist that in some new cell phone cameras, you can snap a picture of a building or landmark and special software will tell you where you are and give you directions on how to get where you want to go.

The new program, created by Roberto Cipolla and Duncan Robertson, is more accurate than GPS satellite positioning. And unlike GPS, it can tell which direction you’re facing in, so it can give you specific directions like “turn to your left and start walking.”

The software can match your photo to a database, even when the two photographs have been taken at a different times of day, from different angles and with different people and vehicles in the image. Robertson says, “That’s an easy problem for a human, but it’s very difficult for a computer.”

John Craig of Cambridge Positioning Systems, the company that will produce the software, says, “Telling people ‘You are in the vicinity of X’ is no good to man nor beast.”

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