A group of five high school girls in Denmark are celebrating their recent win at a regional science competition, but while they enjoy a ginger-ale toast, the results have others re-thinking the radiation effects of wi-fi signals. Wi-Fi signals and the effects of the associated radiation have been controversial for many years, with some parents even fighting to keep Wi-Fi service out of school settings, and the girls have inadvertently added fuel to the fire.
The experiment was sparked by the girls’ observations of how they felt after sleeping with wi-fi devices nearby, most commonly near their heads on bedside tables. They remarked that they felt sluggish and tired even after a full night’s sleep if devices were nearby, even in sleep-mode, with several girls report having “difficulty concentrating.”
A human trial was initially planned, but lacking the proper control methods — and likely a willing candidate — the students turned to another life form for their test and instead used lepidium satvium, a common garden cress. The seeds were planted in a total of 12 growing trays which were then placed in two separate locations. One set of six trays was located in a room free from radiation, and the remaining were set to grow in a room where two Wi-Fi routers emitted radiation similar to the average cellphone.
It turns out the girls fatigue may not be due solely to late night web surfing of Twitter conversations, because results of the growth experiment were obvious and striking: the seeds from the radiation free room had sprouted and were lush and green, while the trays exposed to the router held almost exclusively dead seedlings.
The conclusion has also attracted the attention of the scientific community. Kim Horsevad is a teacher at the Hjallerup School where the test took place, and says that upon hearing the results professors in the science department at nearby Karolinska Institute are showing interest in conducting similar experiments using the tighter controls their laboratory setting allows.