UW Scientist Henry Lai Makes Waves in the Cell Phone Industry

http://www.seattlemag.com/article/uw-scientist-henry-lai-makes-waves-cell-phone-industry?fbclid=IwAR1fQx9ee9jvejdPqEJYCmlhyJaWzH5oNgRclOb3rsGbl6AKKudcnd-nwX0

Lai admits that he was naive. He came to the UW in 1972 and earned a doctorate in psychology. Two decades later, as a bioengineering researcher, he studied esoteric scientific topics in relative obscurity. He and a fellow researcher, Narendra “N.P.” Singh, were looking at the effects of nonionizing microwave radiation—the same type of radiation emitted by cell phones—on the DNA of rats. They used a level of radiation considered safe by government standards and found that the DNA in the brain cells of the rats was damaged—or broken—by exposure to the radiation. Ironically, cell phones weren’t even on Lai’s mind when he performed the initial studies. Funded initially by the Office of Naval Research, Lai was investigating how radar, which emits radio-frequency radiation, affects the health of operators. “We did not really pay attention to the importance of this thing,” he recalls. But during his research, cell phone giant Motorola Inc. indicated that someone had told the company about Lai’s unpublished results. Motorola asked to meet with him in his lab and at a meeting in Copenhagen.

After Lai and Singh’s research finding an effect on DNA was published in 1995, Lai learned of a full-scale effort to discredit his work. In an internal company memo leaked to Microwave News, a publication that examines health and environmental effects of electromagnetic radiation, Motorola described its plan to “war-game” and undermine Lai’s research. After initially accepting industry funding for continued research from the Wireless Technology Research (WTR) program (created to manage $25 million in research funds), Lai and Singh wrote an open letter to Microwave News questioning restrictions placed on their research by the funders. After that, the head of WTR sent a memo asking then-UW president Richard McCormick to fire Lai and Singh. McCormick refused, but the dustup sent a clear message to Lai and his colleagues.

About janpenguin

Email: k2.mountain [at] gmail [dot] com Every content on the blog is made by Free and Open Source Software in GNU/Linux.
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