There’s a small flap in Madison about the new water meters the water utility will begin installing in a few weeks. The meters keep track of your usage, and every so often send a radio-frequency (RF)signal with the data, so the water company can keep better track of you consumption. The water company won’t have to send a meter-reader person around to do it; they’ll be able to bill monthly rather than quarterly; and if you develop a leak, you’ll know about it sooner. The picture at the top of this post is what they typically look like.
The flap in Madison is not about big brother invading our privacy (though that’s the angle you might think the east-siders and isthmus-dwellers might take); the flap is not about replacing humans with machines; the flap is about the RF emissions of the new “smart meters”.
Americans are, in my estimation, by and large dummies when it comes to math and science. Most high school students avoid these subjects whenever possible, unless some math or science content is mandated, or, for the college-bound crowd, the high school guidance counselor convinces them they need to get a little math and science under their belt to be more attractive to the college they have their sights set on.
One of the local TV news stations recently did a story about the apparent discovery of the so-called “God particle”, the Higgs boson, and the dweeb who wrote the story (and the anchorette who read it) obviously didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. The story said “the particle was found deep underground in Switzerland”, as if some European physicists had been digging deep holes in the earth looking for this elusive boson. (Supercollider? What’s a supercollider?)
There are plenty of websites out there on the internets that have sprung up in opposition to this new generation of water-meters, and people who don’t understand a thing about science are most easily buffaloed by quasi-scientific-sounding language. Surfing a representative sample of these anti-new-water-meter sites will likely elicit a chuckle from anybody who knows the first thing about RF emission.
These Madison folks, the noisy handful who are all up in arms about this RF flying around from these new water meters, obviously are operating without a clue. They wouldn’t know a milliwatt from a millirem from a milligram. But they seen on that there innernet that RF is bad for ya, it’ll fry yer brain, and the gubbmint is tryin’ to cover it all up!
These are the kind of folks who apparently don’t realize that their cell phone operates by emitting RF; that the baby monitor they use in their home emits RF; that their in-house internet router emits RF; that the TV remote emits RF (a lot of the newer ones work on UHF, rather than infrared); that their microwave oven emits RF; that their GPS device emits RF; and on and on.
Don’t bother trying to explain it to these folks. As I’m fond of pointing out, today, we can have our own opinion about anything, and we can have our own facts about anything.
You’d be investing your time better by giving a lecture about dBm values to your dog, rather than to these folks.