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Old 28th May 2013, 06:58 AM   #1
madurobob
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Wifi stunts plant growth?

This is all over Facebook among my friends right now. It seems somewhat plausible, but sells like BS given the breathless way its being reported.

Can WiFi Signals Stunt Plant Growth?

A group of 9th grade students in Denmark sowed seeds in several trays and placed some trays in a room with no router and some in a room with to routers. The seeds in the router room for the sot part failed to germinate.

The article linked above is one of the very few I could find that included this caveat:
Quote:
...will probably be repeating the experiment in controlled, professional, scientific environments,” said Horsevad. “One would therefore generally be advised to await the results of his experiments before basing any important decisions on the outcome of the girls’ experiment.”
Surely this isn't the first time this has been tested. We've had radio signals of various frequencies around us for a long time. What controls do you think were missed in the girls test?

My first reaction: why not put them in the same room, right next to each other, with one set inside a simple faraday cage?
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Old 28th May 2013, 07:16 AM   #2
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Different seed packets, different watering regimes, light, temperature and other things could affect the outcome.

But it's a very simple experiment to get right, so pro results shouldn't take long.

I predict "no difference" and that the schoolkids messed up somehow.
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Old 28th May 2013, 07:31 AM   #3
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This kind of thing has indeed been being measured and studied for ages. Some of it with plants... if you include the power line debate which is where all this electric fields cause cancer/headaches/unhappy plants thing began it's been being studied since the early 60s with a heck of a lot of research money thrown at it. Then there were mobile phones of course...

The only health impact coming from non-ionizing radiation that I'm aware of seems to be a weak correlation with childhood leukaemia. Whether that is an artifact, or real, I don't know.
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Old 28th May 2013, 07:35 AM   #4
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By the way. Do they give any indication as to why they think it is the wifi that is at fault. They stuck the seeds next to two routers, yes? Won't that have an impact on temperature, huimidity, airflow etc...? Maybe the routers just dried out the seeds?
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Old 28th May 2013, 07:40 AM   #5
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Incidentally, Olle Johanssen isn't just some random scientist. He's been involved in this for decades. He get's mentioned as being inveloved in the decision to recognize electrosensitivity as a disability in sweden.
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Old 28th May 2013, 07:50 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
This kind of thing has indeed been being measured and studied for ages. Some of it with plants... if you include the power line debate which is where all this electric fields cause cancer/headaches/unhappy plants thing began it's been being studied since the early 60s with a heck of a lot of research money thrown at it. Then there were mobile phones of course...

The only health impact coming from non-ionizing radiation that I'm aware of seems to be a weak correlation with childhood leukaemia. Whether that is an artifact, or real, I don't know.
Childhood leukemia is that it is 5 cases per 100.000 a rare disease. Count that high power line usually are not going thru very dense populated area when aerial, or are buried middle of the street, and you get actually quite low population going thru. So a difference of 1 case may give huge increase in rate. So at the moment it is more a "we don't know".
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Old 28th May 2013, 07:51 AM   #7
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This (slightly amateurish) study looked at microwaving of seeds, water and soil on germination rate etc.

They did find that microwaving seeds dropped the germination rate from very high (15s exposure) to zero (4 mins exposure), but the seeds were actually placed in a microwave oven. Basically, it seems, they sterilised the seeds with the heat of the microwave with the longer exposure.
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Old 28th May 2013, 07:54 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
By the way. Do they give any indication as to why they think it is the wifi that is at fault. They stuck the seeds next to two routers, yes? Won't that have an impact on temperature, huimidity, airflow etc...? Maybe the routers just dried out the seeds?
Right - thats why I would have put the in the same room and protected one with a faraday cage. Too many variables from possible environmental differences in the two rooms.

Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
Incidentally, Olle Johanssen isn't just some random scientist. He's been involved in this for decades. He get's mentioned as being inveloved in the decision to recognize electrosensitivity as a disability in sweden.
Interesting. I wonder if he had any hand in suggesting the experiment to the school teacher?
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Old 28th May 2013, 07:57 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Aepervius View Post
Childhood leukemia is that it is 5 cases per 100.000 a rare disease. Count that high power line usually are not going thru very dense populated area when aerial, or are buried middle of the street, and you get actually quite low population going thru. So a difference of 1 case may give huge increase in rate. So at the moment it is more a "we don't know".
Absolutely any effect is small and may very well not be real. My recollection was that that was the most solid out of any of the claims and has been around for long enough that there are quite a few decent studies of it.
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Old 28th May 2013, 10:25 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by GlennB View Post
Different seed packets, different watering regimes, light, temperature and other things could affect the outcome.

But it's a very simple experiment to get right, so pro results shouldn't take long.

I predict "no difference" and that the schoolkids messed up somehow.
This
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Old 28th May 2013, 10:46 AM   #11
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This pisses me off to no end. A science experiment should follow the scientific method.

Step one, formulation of a question. They seem like they actually got this, "Does WiFi radiation effect plant growth".

Step two, hypothesis. Don't see this one anywhere.

Step three, prediction. Don't see this one anywhere either, but I'm going to assume they predicted that the radiation would be bad.

Step four, testing/experiment. They of course fail miserably when it comes to scientific controls here, the most blatant I think being that of blinding. And of course the experiment was not designed very well as two WiFi routers not doing any work will only emit radiation in short bursts separated by long intervals. Plus there are probably differences in the rooms, etc.

Step five, analysis. Oi, this is the one that is driving me the most insane. The only analysis they have is a picture of a tray in the control group that grew well, and a tray in the test group that didn't. What about the other 10 trays? Also, they are claiming that some seeds mutated? Really? How was that determined?

Gah, they even won an award for this? Scientific method is something that should be picked up well before year 9.

Hooray, I found their documents (but I can't read them):

http://www.dr.dk/NR/rdonlyres/075641..._mobilstra.pdf

http://www.dr.dk/NR/rdonlyres/075641...13.pdf

The photos are on the second document, the heading is "Top: Cress exposed to microwave radiation. Bottom: Control group, the same growth conditions as test plants without microwave radiation."

Something funky is going on in the news articles, because while the photos of the "non-exposed" cress looks healthier in the linked pdf, the stark difference shown in news photos isn't there.

The most frustrating thing about all this, is that if they were actually empowered with the scientific method, they could test if sleeping near a cell phone effected their ability to concentrate.
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Old 28th May 2013, 01:21 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by RussDill View Post
Gah, they even won an award for this? Scientific method is something that should be picked up well before year 9.
Yes, on some level I want to give them a pass because they are school girls. But by grade 9 they should know better. Then again, part of the broader scientific process is peer review. As others, I trust when scientists repeat the experiment with proper controls they'll find no material difference. The girls will be shown to have made fundamental mistakes. That should be a great learning experience for them and a proper introduction to real science.


Originally Posted by RussDill View Post
Something funky is going on in the news articles, because while the photos of the "non-exposed" cress looks healthier in the linked pdf, the stark difference shown in news photos isn't there.
Yeah, I noticed that in the links you posted. Surely some reporter doctored the images for better effect. Its sad, but not unexpected.
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Old 28th May 2013, 02:47 PM   #13
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Did they really try to grow something in a server room? Because there are so many things wrong with a server room that wifi radiation is the least of your worries. Just the noise vibration alone can make some people feel ill and then you have the temperature, too cold if done correctly and too hot if there's a problem. Add in lack of light, dry air and unusual airflow and you've got a horrible place for a little plant to try to grow.
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Old 28th May 2013, 03:20 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Weak Kitten View Post
Did they really try to grow something in a server room? Because there are so many things wrong with a server room that wifi radiation is the least of your worries. Just the noise vibration alone can make some people feel ill and then you have the temperature, too cold if done correctly and too hot if there's a problem. Add in lack of light, dry air and unusual airflow and you've got a horrible place for a little plant to try to grow.
No, whatever gave you that idea? Apparently the two batches of seeds were set on the window sill in different but similar class rooms with windows facing the same direction (south). In one of them three computers and two wifi transmitters were placed in proximity of the seeds. The computers were used to create constant wifi traffic between the routers.

The seeds were from 12 different batches, mixed together so they all should have the same growth potential. They were watered at the same time with identical amounts of water. The temperature in the two rooms was kept the same by an electronic regulator.

Seriously, folks. Read the report before condemning it. Sure, the controls could have been better, and there should have been blinding applied, but the experiment was not set up as badly as people here want to think.

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Old 28th May 2013, 03:46 PM   #15
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Woot, I managed to finally con a summary out of somebody! Yay!
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Old 28th May 2013, 05:22 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by svenax View Post
Seriously, folks. Read the report before condemning it. Sure, the controls could have been better, and there should have been blinding applied, but the experiment was not set up as badly as people here want to think.
Its, um, in Dutch. I can read the letters and sound out the words phonetically, buts its still gibberish to me.

While they tried to control temps, I very much doubt they controlled humidity with two routers and two PCs running 24/7. I also doubt they controlled temps as well as they think they did. Or air circulation.

Honestly, why they thought they had to put the samples in completely separate rooms is beyond me. It introduces too many variables they cannot control.
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Old 28th May 2013, 08:05 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by madurobob View Post
Its, um, in Dutch. I can read the letters and sound out the words phonetically, buts its still gibberish to me.
I'm pretty sure that's Danish.
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Old 28th May 2013, 11:32 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by madurobob View Post
Its, um, in Dutch. I can read the letters and sound out the words phonetically, buts its still gibberish to me.
OK, so you have lots of ideas on what the girls did wrong, while having no idea what their report actually says? Brilliant skepticism that.

Originally Posted by madurobob View Post
While they tried to control temps, I very much doubt they controlled humidity with two routers and two PCs running 24/7. I also doubt they controlled temps as well as they think they did. Or air circulation.
This is probably true, however the air volume in a typical class room is large enough for it to be only very slightly affected by the equipment used.

Originally Posted by madurobob View Post
Honestly, why they thought they had to put the samples in completely separate rooms is beyond me. It introduces too many variables they cannot control.
Because they wanted to avoid stray radiation from the experiment affecting the control and would/could not build suitable shielding?
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Old 29th May 2013, 12:38 AM   #19
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FWIW here is a picture of my parlour palm which lives near our wireless router. As you can see it's a pretty pathetic specimen.



Although its failure to thrive could be related to its proximity to the router, I feel it's more likely that it's because I don't water it as often as I could and because my cat likes to om-nom it (before barfing up the pieces on my office carpet).
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Old 29th May 2013, 06:57 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Madalch View Post
I'm pretty sure that's Danish.
Oops, yes. Common mistake for we rubes in NC. I'm still confused that Holland is two provinces within Holland that is also the European portion of The Netherlands. Denmark just gets lumped in by virtue of proximity.

This all reminds me of a lively philosophical discussion with my then 12 year old several years ago: "Dad, who owns Greenland?"
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Old 29th May 2013, 07:19 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by svenax View Post
OK, so you have lots of ideas on what the girls did wrong, while having no idea what their report actually says? Brilliant skepticism that.
Not at all, but thanks for the breathless misreporting. What I have is what is being reported in various news sources in my native language. They give an overview of the protocol and that overview is enough to see major flaws.

Originally Posted by svenax View Post
This is probably true, however the air volume in a typical class room is large enough for it to be only very slightly affected by the equipment used.
That all depends on air circulation, proximity of the samples to the equipment, and the location of the thermometer, doesn't it? Or, have you never noticed how much warmer that one corner of your office is because the PC and router are sitting there, even though the middle of the room feels the same as the rest of the building?

Originally Posted by svenax View Post
Because they wanted to avoid stray radiation from the experiment affecting the control and would/could not build suitable shielding?
Yeah, this is the problem for me. A little metal window screen and five minutes work would do it. They are testing RF radiation from a router and don't know about this? And they are in a science class?

As mentioned earlier, a few minutes thought would have given them an easy way to test their original hypothesis about cell phones and sleep. Faraday bags on the phones (and non-faraday bags that look the same, as a control).

But, I guess that is too easy and too obvious.
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Old 29th May 2013, 09:55 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by madurobob View Post
That all depends on air circulation, proximity of the samples to the equipment, and the location of the thermometer, doesn't it? Or, have you never noticed how much warmer that one corner of your office is because the PC and router are sitting there, even though the middle of the room feels the same as the rest of the building?
Even if they did super accurately control temperature in both rooms, the humidity could have been wildly different. Or something else about the rooms, even though incident light could have been the same, what about reflected light?
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Old 29th May 2013, 10:05 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by RussDill View Post
Even if they did super accurately control temperature in both rooms, the humidity could have been wildly different. Or something else about the rooms, even though incident light could have been the same, what about reflected light?
Seeds don't need light to sprout. They should have done the whole thing in a small closet.
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Old 29th May 2013, 10:33 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by RussDill View Post
This pisses me off to no end. A science experiment should follow the scientific method.

Step one, formulation of a question. They seem like they actually got this, "Does WiFi radiation effect plant growth".

Step two, hypothesis. Don't see this one anywhere.
Hypothesis: WiFi radiation does affect plant growth. Right?

Originally Posted by RussDill View Post
Step three, prediction. Don't see this one anywhere either, but I'm going to assume they predicted that the radiation would be bad.

Step four, testing/experiment. They of course fail miserably when it comes to scientific controls here, the most blatant I think being that of blinding. And of course the experiment was not designed very well as two WiFi routers not doing any work will only emit radiation in short bursts separated by long intervals. Plus there are probably differences in the rooms, etc.
As explained in the report, several computers were used to make sure the routers saw constant traffic.

Originally Posted by RussDill View Post
Step five, analysis. Oi, this is the one that is driving me the most insane. The only analysis they have is a picture of a tray in the control group that grew well, and a tray in the test group that didn't. What about the other 10 trays? Also, they are claiming that some seeds mutated? Really? How was that determined?
Plenty of nice graphs and photos in the report. As well as okular inspection to determine growth, they weighted all the seeds afterwards to compare biomass.

No mention of mutation in the report.

Originally Posted by RussDill View Post
Something funky is going on in the news articles, because while the photos of the "non-exposed" cress looks healthier in the linked pdf, the stark difference shown in news photos isn't there.
Uh huh. The funkosity of popular press articles is at a high level as usual.

Originally Posted by RussDill View Post
The most frustrating thing about all this, is that if they were actually empowered with the scientific method, they could test if sleeping near a cell phone effected their ability to concentrate.
And that would have been a trial easier to control, how exactly?
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Old 29th May 2013, 03:31 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by svenax View Post
And that would have been a trial easier to control, how exactly?
Surely in one you are talking about the presence or absence of a phone (presumably switched on) while the subject is sleeping without making any particular claims about whether it's heat, signal, whatever... causing the problem.

In the other experiment, they aparantly want to test whether wifi stops seeds germinating. To do that the way they've done it, they need to control for any other effect the computers and routers may be having on the seeds other than wifi. Maybe the best way to do that would be to run the experiment again having disabled the wifi.

Wouldn't it have been easier to put a phone in a bag and sleep next to it without knowing whether it was on or off? You could even do the traditional verification of making sure the effect you are looking for is there with the experiment unblinded, and then blinding the experiment.
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Old 29th May 2013, 03:41 PM   #26
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There's also the issue, isn't there that it seems kind of unlikely that the signal coming off the back of a router would cause the effects claimed...? I'm sure kids do worse experiments in school science classes all the time demonstrating well established effects. The problem is applying the same methodology to an effect that may be hard to detect/not exist/be muddled up in other effects.

By the way, is there any indication of how some school science project made it into the newspapers? Also, did the kids really notice that they couldn't pay attention after sleeping next to their phones? I've never noticed that and I sleep near/next to my phone off and on. Is this a class of electrosensitives? If I was their teacher, I'd wonder whether it was because they wouldn't put their phones down to go to sleep.

Last edited by shuttlt; 29th May 2013 at 03:50 PM.
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Old 29th May 2013, 03:55 PM   #27
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Reading further, I see their experiment took them to the final of some science competition, perhaps leading to the initial attention.
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Old 29th May 2013, 04:12 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by svenax View Post
Hypothesis: WiFi radiation does affect plant growth. Right?
Is that stated in their paper? It'd be a rather weak hypothesis as it contains no reasoning. Can you translate that part of the report for us?

Originally Posted by svenax View Post
As explained in the report, several computers were used to make sure the routers saw constant traffic.
Were the computers doing anything to generate traffic? Were students using them?


Quote:
Plenty of nice graphs and photos in the report. As well as okular inspection to determine growth, they weighted all the seeds afterwards to compare biomass.
The news article shows a photo of a fully sprouted plate, with growth far beyond what the paper listed. This would indicated that at least one of the plates was not inspected or measured. How many plates were inspected and measured? What method was used to determine which plates were measured and inspected? Were the sprouts dried before measuring?

Quote:
No mention of mutation in the report.
I see that in several news sources. For some reason, they have scanned text rather than actual text in their report, so it isn't possible for me to do machine translation without retyping the whole thing. bummer.


Quote:
And that would have been a trial easier to control, how exactly?
As others have said, either have a bag that has mesh sewn into it or not. Or phones off or on. A box with a phone in it, or a weight, etc.
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Old 8th June 2013, 07:36 PM   #29
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Since I am a gardener, and have sprouted seeds using a heat-mat, I assumed I might find some instances where people may have used their warm WiFi router box for a heat source.
Bingo.


Quote:
I thought I'd jump right in and post a cheapskate tip for those of us that don't need a full size heat mat, or simply don't have one.

Most of us have a WiFi router that is running 24/7 - pumping out heat that is otherwise wasted. My router has a surface temp of around 32c.
If you're careful about how you do it, you can use your router as a heat pad to germinate seeds.
Obviously moisture and electricity don't mix, so don't use a container with drain holes, and take your container outside to water it.
Also, allow for some air flow around the router - I stack about 1cm of coins under my trays to allow for ventilation.
Works for me.
http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/...?topic=33470.0

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http://www.nikolasschiller.com/blog/...11/03/31/7398/
Quote:
I can truthfully say that I use the internet to grow my vegetables! For the last few years I’ve been using the passive heat from my cable modem & router to germinate my seeds. It’s pretty simple to do: find a leak-proof plastic container, throw in some dirt, add seeds of what you want to grow, add some (but not too much) water, and then place it on your cable modem or internet router. Seeds do not need light to grow, rather they need heat and moisture to germinate. By using the passive heat from the cable modem & router, I can grow just about anything…
http://www.nikolasschiller.com/blog/...11/03/31/7398/

Out of fairness of course, just finding some images on the web is not very scientific either, as these sprouts could have performed badly. So I won't claim this is "proof" of anything, except that seeds are sprouted on top of wifi boxes, by people who like to post photos on the web..
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Old 13th April 2017, 10:25 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by madurobob View Post
Most seeds don't need light to sprout. They should have done the whole thing in a small closet.
Fixed that for you.
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Old 13th April 2017, 10:28 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by Stupid View Post
Since I am a gardener, and have sprouted seeds using a heat-mat, I assumed I might find some instances where people may have used their warm WiFi router box for a heat source.
Bingo.

http://i41.tinypic.com/jjxwqr.jpg

http://thesurvivalpodcast.com/forum/...?topic=33470.0

~~~~~~~~~~~~

http://nikolasschiller.com/images/ge...n3_3-31-11.jpg
http://www.nikolasschiller.com/blog/...11/03/31/7398/

http://www.nikolasschiller.com/blog/...11/03/31/7398/

Out of fairness of course, just finding some images on the web is not very scientific either, as these sprouts could have performed badly. So I won't claim this is "proof" of anything, except that seeds are sprouted on top of wifi boxes, by people who like to post photos on the web..
Since this seems to be circulating again, we could summarize as:
  • Temperature too cold: wifi router (and other heat producing electronic equipment) = good.
  • Temperature just right: wifi router (and other heat producing electronic equipment) = good.
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Old 14th April 2017, 04:46 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by svenax View Post
No, whatever gave you that idea? Apparently the two batches of seeds were set on the window sill in different but similar class rooms with windows facing the same direction (south). In one of them three computers and two wifi transmitters were placed in proximity of the seeds. The computers were used to create constant wifi traffic between the routers.

The seeds were from 12 different batches, mixed together so they all should have the same growth potential. They were watered at the same time with identical amounts of water. The temperature in the two rooms was kept the same by an electronic regulator.

Seriously, folks. Read the report before condemning it. Sure, the controls could have been better, and there should have been blinding applied, but the experiment was not set up as badly as people here want to think.
In one of the links posted by Russ Dill, there is an image containing 3 graphs, labeled Resultater og konklusion. In light of your statement high-lighted above, could you let us know how they generated the data they used to produce these graphs? Thanks in advance.
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Old 14th April 2017, 11:28 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by SteveL View Post
In one of the links posted by Russ Dill, there is an image containing 3 graphs, labeled Resultater og konklusion. In light of your statement high-lighted above, could you let us know how they generated the data they used to produce these graphs? Thanks in advance.
Fair warning - this four year old thread was recently resurrected. You might not get a response to your question about a post from 2013.
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Old 14th April 2017, 01:09 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by madurobob View Post
Fair warning - this four year old thread was recently resurrected. You might not get a response to your question about a post from 2013.
Thanks, I didn't notice that it wasn't new.
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Old 14th April 2017, 06:59 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by RussDill View Post
The most frustrating thing about all this, is that if they were actually empowered with the scientific method, they could test if sleeping near a cell phone effected their ability to concentrate.
How could they know if they were asleep?

ETA: OK, old thread. I'm around a lot of teenagers and I guarantee you that cell phones affect their ability to concentrate. Same with adults. Also, it would be hard to pry the cell phones out of their hands for a control group.

Can you even get a phone now that isn't a smart phone?

Last edited by Minoosh; 14th April 2017 at 07:07 PM.
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Old 14th April 2017, 07:09 PM   #36
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Pilot study, needs to be repeated. I'm going to hypothesize the results will not be repeatable.

Oh fudge, who's digging around in the necro-thread file? This is the second one tonight.

Last edited by Skeptic Ginger; 14th April 2017 at 07:10 PM.
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Old 14th April 2017, 07:09 PM   #37
William Parcher
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
Can you even get a phone now that isn't a smart phone?
Yes.
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Old 15th April 2017, 05:58 AM   #38
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WiFi stunts plant growth?

WiFi plant growth stunt.
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Old 15th April 2017, 06:17 AM   #39
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Excuse me, I believe the "correct" term is wee-fee demons.
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Old 15th April 2017, 08:11 AM   #40
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In my experience plant growth stunts wifi.
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