High school students discover plants don't grow near Wi-Fi routers

By on December 18, 2013, 12:30 PM

Wireless routers are an undeniable convenience for millions across the globe, but at what impact on our health? There have been multiple studies in the past suggesting the negative impact they may have on humans but the latest research could be the most compelling yet. And it comes from a group of high school students.

Five students came to the realization that sleeping near their cell phones at night caused them to have problems concentrating during school the next day. Intrigued, the students asked if they could study the effects of cell phone radiation on humans but the school simply didn’t have the resources to make it happen.

Instead, the students opted to perform testing on a Wi-Fi router which is comparable to the radiation levels put out by cell phones. They placed six trays of lepidium sativum seeds (a garden cress grown commercially throughout Europe) in a room with two Wi-Fi routers. In another room, the same number of seeds were placed without routers.

Over the next 12 days, the students examined an interesting phenomenon. The seeds in the room without the routers had blossomed into healthy plans while those in the room with the routers were either dead or hadn’t grown at all.

The students received top honors in a regional science fair but more importantly, a professor of neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden was so impressed that he wants to repeat the experiment in a controlled scientific environment.




User Comments: 41

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3 people like this | Amigosdefox said:

Please Techspot, you are better than this.

1 person liked this | howzz1854 said:

Wow... this is really interesting. never mind Amigosdefox, this is a really helpful piece of info and great for those kids.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Hhhmmm, I would like to know the other variables though? The cress that didn't grow properly looks more like they were killed by heat, Were the rooms the same temperature? how close to the routers? And were the routers in use? Those 3 factors alone could change the outcome considerably and meant it wasn't radiation but heat? I'm not doubting their findings, just saying, It would have been nice to know the details

GhostRyder GhostRyder said:

Hhhmmm, I would like to know the other variables though? The cress that didn't grow properly looks more like they were killed by heat, Were the rooms the same temperature? how close to the routers? And were the routers in use? Those 3 factors alone could change the outcome considerably and meant it wasn't radiation but heat? I'm not doubting their findings, just saying, It would have been nice to know the details

Yea because I want to know whats happening to my body while im watching videos wirelessly.

I dont know though, theres alot of factors that could be taken into account on something like this because like @Burty117 said heat could be an issue as well.

Guest said:

There's something called science. Non-ionizing radiation is non-ionizing. I doubt these kids have upended years of data saying the opposite, that there's zero impact.

This is in the same category as vaccines and GMO food. Vast amounts of public paranoia, based on no solid science.

OliTheG OliTheG said:

Well, I'm calling straight out shennanigans.

First of all, let's approach this from a SCIENTIFIC (not TV science, or throw in the word scientific to sound better) approach.

- No repeats. The results are therefore almost automatically invalidated.

- We don't know if the same bag of seeds were used

- We don't know if watering, etc was identical.

- We don't know who had access to both rooms

- We don't know about THE LIGHT CONDITIONS IN EACH ROOM. Artificial light =/= Sunlight. Plants won't grow under light bulbs!

- Seeds also contain an amount of energy within them that allow them to initially sprout. How are the wifi ones dead without germinating? It's almost as if something killed them. And no, not "radiation." If WAVES, of a wavelength comparable to IR waves, could kill cells, we would all be dead. That would imply that somebody who used a remote control would suffer from things such as slower growth, or potentially cancer caused by mutations (tomorrow's headline in the daily mail: remotes give you cancer :P) caused by the waves.

It's just rubbish. Techspot, start posting actual articles. PLEASE!

1 person liked this | lipe123 said:

Wow... this is really interesting. never mind Amigosdefox, this is a really helpful piece of info and great for those kids.

Actually he's prolly referring to this: [link]

Also look at: [link]

To do any real kind of damage you need the ionizing type of radiation, the lower frequency stuff can heat things up when you apply enough focus and wattage like a microwave thats 600+Watt's. A router operates at milliwatts exactly for that reason, maybe the sprouting cress seeds are very vulnerable but trying to link this directly to saying that it's bad for people is a tad far fetched.

Guest said:

- We don't know about THE LIGHT CONDITIONS IN EACH ROOM. Artificial light =/= Sunlight. Plants won't grow under light bulbs!

LOL Plants will most certainly grow under light bulbs... not sure where you get your information from.....

1 person liked this | metalSHOCK said:

How many routers did they hook up in the room? Sounds like over 9000!

Guest said:

I disagree with the study made by those students. I've planted some wheat seeds into a bowl with cotton wool and they have grown normally, tall, green etc. These seed have stayed next to my RT-N66U router at a distance of aprox. 15cm for about 15hours during winter nights. The rest of 9 hours (day time) I kept them in the same room with the router but on the window sill. The watering however is another story, I've poured water in the bowl enough so that the cotton wool to be moist but not kill the plants by flooding them. Also as they grew bigger I had to pour water more often, and they are still growing and they are still next to the router.

Conclusion: The study is irrelevant or rather inaccurate, there are too many variables. How, when and how much you water them, then there's the water quality, it they had kept the plants more on natural light or artificial light, the temperature of the room, not to mention the quality of the seeds counts as well.

mizkitty said:

Yeah...right...Concentrating in school was a problem long before Wi-Fi showed up in teenager's homes.

I wonder why the tree farms in my area make use of the strips of land under Hydro lines...if nothing grows there...

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

Fear mongering+sensational journalism.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I think they need a little Flower Power, to understand where they went wrong.

The award-winning Parrot Flower Power is a Bluetooth-enabled sensor set designed to resist tough climatic conditions such as rain, heat, frost, etc. It can be "planted" close to a plant, indoor or outdoor, in a pot or in open ground, and precisely measures the parameters that are crucial for plant health and growth: soil moisture, fertilizer, ambient temperature, and light intensity. A free Flower Power App receives and analyzes this data, and gives you expert-class advice on better maintenance. The waterproof construction of the Parrot Flower Power provides hassle-free use in challenging environments.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

You want to find the culprit, an elephant in a today's IT room?

- That's the chair and the way you seat on it, nothing causes as many health problems as the wrong posture. Most health problems are back-related. Also, the filthiest known object in an IT office, one that carries most bacteria is your keyboard.

These two are much more harmful to your health than anything else around!

AnonymousSurfer AnonymousSurfer said:

I wonder how close they had them to the routers

insect said:

Please Techspot, you are better than this.

^ + all the other "this is not science" posts here.

Guest said:

Next game on mobiles: "Plants vs. Wifi routers"... LoL

Guest said:

Wow, so many rational reponses to this article.

+1 Internet

-1 Techspot for questionable journalism

1 person liked this | TheBigFatClown said:

There's something called science. Non-ionizing radiation is non-ionizing. I doubt these kids have upended years of data saying the opposite, that there's zero impact.

This is in the same category as vaccines and GMO food. Vast amounts of public paranoia, based on no solid science.

The "all" or "nothing" attitude you express is why there is so much confusion on these issues. You speak as though "all" vaccinnes are harmless and no one should ever question them. How about examing each individually and judging it on it's own record? Same with GMO foods. Collapsing bee colonies in recent years aren't conspiracy paranoia. It's a fact. GMO foods with "baked-in" pesticides sounds as reasonable to me as any other theory. What do you propose is killing all the bees?

[link]

I suppose you wanna classify anyone who says anything negative about vaccinnes or GMO foods as "tin foil hat" people who just sit around thinking up conspiracy theories. Crazy ones at that like, I think my government is reading my emails. Crazy shit like that.

1 person liked this | Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Well, it was a nice little school science experiment, with shaky results that are being thrown around the interwebz as proof that technology is killing us... (I wonder how many who read and believe that are hypocritically reading the news from a wireless signal?)

The last sentence in the article sums it up for me. An actual institute will do a real scientifically controlled study, where they can do all of the potential environment and parameter variations (and double-blind tests to prevent bias). When we get results from THAT test, then it's worth a world wide web feeding frenzy, not until then.

Guest said:

@TheBigFatClown

Thanks for helping prove the point by linking to an environmentalist website which itself links no peer reviewed research. Fail.

There appears to be several reasons for colony collapse, but no research thats been able to hold together under peer review thats linked it to GMO. Just things anti-corporate neo-Marxists can't get excited about, such as US Navy research (don't ask why they look in to ag issues, I have no idea) suggesting parasites -- in some cases, they found.

Here's a page that references and sums up quite a bit of, you know, actual science. My apologies if it doesn't fit your pre-determined agenda:

http://www.ars.usda.gov/news/docs.htm?docid=15572

As for vaccines, please, lets not pretend there was ever any science involved in that paranoia. There's many pages that detail its history, and it was all started with one bunk report that people seized upon, then a celebrity jumped on the bandwagon, and next thing you know children are suffering from whooping cough and doctors for the first time in generations are worried about herd immunity.

The right wing has climate change deniers, the left has GMO, vaccines (actually a little overlap on the anti-vax front) and CCD. Sad, but both sides utterly disregard science when it doesn't fit.

As far as I've ever noticed though, at least the wireless fearmongering hasn't been political, just the typical low-level Luddite fear of new technology thats constant in society and history. Which is a relief, sadly.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Good job, kids!

In my mind, it's great that kids are actually interested. Sure, what they did wasn't rocket science, but it's a START.

Maybe now they'll continue on and do a more controlled experiment...and maybe develop their interests and knowledge in science more.

Sure beats video games on the couch.

Guest said:

They forgot to turn ON the power of the router.

thats why the seeds grew.....

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Here's a page that references and sums up quite a bit of, you know, actual science. My apologies if it doesn't fit your pre-determined agenda:

http://www.ars.usda.gov/news/docs.htm?docid=15572

Yeah, about that. I can't help but wonder if it has anything to do with all the chemicals we spray on our crops. After all those chemicals are pesticides, meant to kill.

1 person liked this | TheBigFatClown said:

@TheBigFatClown

Thanks for helping prove the point by linking to an environmentalist website which itself links no peer reviewed research. Fail.

There appears to be several reasons for colony collapse, but no research thats been able to hold together under peer review thats linked it to GMO. Just things anti-corporate neo-Marxists can't get excited about, such as US Navy research (don't ask why they look in to ag issues, I have no idea) suggesting parasites -- in some cases, they found.

Here's a page that references and sums up quite a bit of, you know, actual science. My apologies if it doesn't fit your pre-determined agenda:

http://www.ars.usda.gov/news/docs.htm?docid=15572

As for vaccines, please, lets not pretend there was ever any science involved in that paranoia. There's many pages that detail its history, and it was all started with one bunk report that people seized upon, then a celebrity jumped on the bandwagon, and next thing you know children are suffering from whooping cough and doctors for the first time in generations are worried about herd immunity.

The right wing has climate change deniers, the left has GMO, vaccines (actually a little overlap on the anti-vax front) and CCD. Sad, but both sides utterly disregard science when it doesn't fit.

As far as I've ever noticed though, at least the wireless fearmongering hasn't been political, just the typical low-level Luddite fear of new technology thats constant in society and history. Which is a relief, sadly.

My pre-determined agenda? Why...thank you for the compliment. I thought I was just responding to an article on the internet. It seems I have a master plan that I haven't yet discovered myself but now am very anxious to do so.

1 person liked this | Tanstar said:

The funniest part of this article for me was, "Five students came to the realization that sleeping near their cell phones at night caused them to have problems concentrating during school the next day."

Teenage girls with easy access to their phones all night don't get enough sleep? Shocker!

andy06shake said:

It was my understanding that Wi-Fi signals propagate just about everywhere these days. Trees still grow around where there transmitter towers/mobile masts are located so I have to question these peoples findings. Looking at the petri dishes my bet is that heat killed that crest.

Forg0t2 said:

The funniest part of this article for me was, "Five students came to the realization that sleeping near their cell phones at night caused them to have problems concentrating during school the next day."

Teenage girls with easy access to their phones all night don't get enough sleep? Shocker!

Maybe thats why the plants in the first room died. They went online for too long....

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Maybe thats why the plants in the first room died. They went online for too long....
Finally some evidence that gaming is unhealthy. "Plants vs Zombies" Now if we can find evidence of Zombies, we can put an end to all doubt. LOL

OliTheG OliTheG said:

- We don't know about THE LIGHT CONDITIONS IN EACH ROOM. Artificial light =/= Sunlight. Plants won't grow under light bulbs!

LOL Plants will most certainly grow under light bulbs... not sure where you get your information from.....

Urgh, read it in context please.

A plant will sprout under ARTIFICIAL light (not sunlight bulbs), but not grow (or at the very least have massively stunted growth) any further.

The light bulb doesn't cancel out natural sunlight in the room. The natural sunlight is needed for photosynthesis, the main way in which energy for storage is used during the hours of daylight. The reverse process then occurs in the absence of sunlight; aerobic respiration.

Here is an experiment. Get some fully grown plants, and stick them in a dark room WITH NO WINDOWS. ABSOLUTELY NO WINDOWS. Then turn on a light. Most of the plants will die, and none will grow towards the light.

mikeusru said:

Please Techspot, you are better than this.

Seriously guys.... I thing it's important for high schoolers to learn about research, but results from a study like this don't belong in a tech blog. You're not FOX news.

Guest said:

This is knee jerk pseudoscience, at best.

1 person liked this | mailpup mailpup said:

Get some fully grown plants, and stick them in a dark room WITH NO WINDOWS. ABSOLUTELY NO WINDOWS. Then turn on a light.
I think you just described an urban indoor marijuana farm.

BTW, please stop shouting.

1 person liked this | psycros psycros said:

There's something called science. Non-ionizing radiation is non-ionizing. I doubt these kids have upended years of data saying the opposite, that there's zero impact.

This is in the same category as vaccines and GMO food. Vast amounts of public paranoia, based on no solid science.

You mean besides a few major EU studies that led to a complete ban on GMO foods. Or the common knowledge that drug companies are add completely unrelated compounds like vitamins and anti-seizure meds into vaccines, and the government ignores petitions with half a million signatures to look into it. As for the subject at hand, there are several hundred Americans with rare cancers who live near high-tension power lines who would like a word with you. But keep drinking that Kool-Aid, kid - I'm sure its reeeeal good for ya.

Natefunk Natefunk said:

There's something called science. Non-ionizing radiation is non-ionizing. I doubt these kids have upended years of data saying the opposite, that there's zero impact.

This is in the same category as vaccines and GMO food. Vast amounts of public paranoia, based on no solid science.

Sadly this is not true. It may be non ionizing but it does affect plants. I have tested this extensively with high power microwave transmitters. Most of you are correct that the low power of routers affecting you is BS. Cell phones actually affecting you is even more BS made up by kids who were probably up all night using their cell phones and this was a convenient excuse.

There is some truth though to the radiation being harmful but only within a certain radius of extremely high levels.

I am a computer and wireless technician and have seen in every case where a tree is in line of sight of a powerful signal passing through it, it will always be dead within a year. This is because live greens actually block and disrupt radio signals. If you are trying to get a low power (below 1 watt) signal through live trees it won't go.

So the signal does affect plants and the plants can affect the signal. Human chemistry however is vastly different and non ionizing radiation has no effect on us unless it is at cook you power levels.

Ask any tech with even just a few years of experience in wireless network deployment and configuration and they will tell you the same thing.

There are definitely other factors involved but there is still a correlation however mild it might be.

Guest said:

Besides the variables already mentioned above such as sunlight, temperature, ect there could even be the type of plant or possibly even the structure of the plant/seed to consider.

There are so many variables in this experiment that, to me, all they have is a plate with plants that grew and seeds that did not.

Wtf techspot?

gunste24 said:

These students will go further than their mates. Thinking with imagination and outside the box, designing an interesting experiment. They had a control and the conclusion sounds scientifically sound and logical.

The naysayers will be the mobile phone companies who nothing like facts to interfere with their marketing efforts.

Tanstar said:

These students will go further than their mates. Thinking with imagination and outside the box, designing an interesting experiment. They had a control and the conclusion sounds scientifically sound and logical.

The naysayers will be the mobile phone companies who nothing like facts to interfere with their marketing efforts.

The naysayers will be anyone who understands that this study was done by high school kids. Was it a good variation on the old "this plant got classical music and this one didn't"? Sure. Was it an actual science story that belonged on TechSpot? Hell no.

ravisunny2 ravisunny2, TS Ambassador, said:

And, smoking does not kill.

TheBigFatClown said:

And, smoking does not kill.

Not unless you do it for a really really long time, right? So, it must be safe. *cough,cough*

Guest said:

To all the sneering "skeptic" types here....

did you know that buried in the user docs in the Iphone it warns you not to hold the thing closer than 10 mm from your skin?

Regarding vaccines: numerous books packed with documentation have demonstrated the long and sordid history of government and "scientific" lies. "The Virus and the Vaccine" for instance. Both polio vaccines had bad batches that caused polio. Look up the tale of Bernice Eddy if you really think you can trust these institutions. Excellent summary at [link]

The links to the USDA site is are a laugh. Obama put a shill for Monsanto in charge of evaluating GMO safety. Then they stuck the Monsanto protection liability clause into a bill (HR 933 Section 735) and the presstitutes in the media ignored it. Herbicide-tolerant "superweeds" are already a serious problem for the farmers conned into using ever-greater quantities of the "Round-Up" product; it's working out great for Monsanto though.

I'm tired of these egomaniacs brandishing "science" at anybody who questions their reckless behavior. Science is just as corrupt as the banksters or the manufacturers who kept dangerous products on the market. Scientists murdered the nuclear downwinders and many military veterans exposed to radiation in what looks an awful lot like a mad scientist experiment. Check out the excellent but mostly ignored book "The Plutonium Files". They used mentally retarded children too. Why shouldn't I view "scientific ethics' as an oxymoron?

I'm in California where the taxpayers just subsidized a $3 Billion boondoggle called the CMRI. We were promised the wonders of embryonic stem cells; though actual "skeptics" who questioned this were thrown in the same box as people opposing embryonics on religious grounds. What did we get? Zip. But the 33-member panel made out well lavishing grants and contracts on themselves and all their friends. Meanwhile an independent MD in Portugal (Dr. Carlos Lima) restored sensation and movement in spinal cord injuries--but using adult stem cells (from olfactory tissue). Aside from a feature in 2004 on the PBS series "Innovation" there appears to have been a complete media black-out of Dr. Lima's work. I would thought it worthy of a Nobel Prize.

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