It seems the Twitter-verse and other non-fact-checked social media sites are breeding a new generation of mythology. And that is not, necessarily a good thing.
I just came across a piece written by a couple of people over at HighSpeedInternet.com. Not exactly much of a hard data site, they are a clearinghouse for users looking for ISPs. You can input your location data and they come up with potential ISPs. They also have a guide to help those affected by the pandemic. I guess if you see a market to capitalize on, that is what it is all about.
Things must be a bit slow for them because, recently, they penned a story about tech myths around some wireless platforms. I was amazed at some of the statistics – and not just 5G, but other communications and high tech as well. It is somewhat frightening as to how many people believe some of these myths, and strongly enough to go out and vandalize elements of such myths. I am referring to the damage to cell towers earlier this year.
I thought this might be timely because, of late, there have been so many wild theories about everything from 5G causing the virus, to it actually being the virus, to LEOs ruining the night sky. I thought it might be fun to drill down on this a bit.
Let us start with 5G. The survey says that 25 percent of the people surveyed by the authors believe that 5G can make you sick. This is a rather popular subject and not without controversy. Some believe it strongly.
Groups like Qanon push theories that 5G causes COVID-19 at the behest of the “global elites.” (You know, the nameless, faceless people that somehow control the world.) This led to countless cell towers being lit on fire. We live in a small world where one person’s conspiracy theory can easily become someone else’s vertical telecom bonfire.
And, interestingly, somewhere along the 5G marketing hype, the industry has managed to convince almost everyone (86 percent) that 5G is the replacement for 4G. In reality, 5G is just a bigger, badder, and faster 4G using some new technologies and platforms. I might get some pushback here but for now, and for the foreseeable future, 5G will be built on top of 4G. And 4G is not going to disappear any time soon, at least until more generations of G come along.
Anyway, besides 5G, there are people who believe Leo’s will ruin the night sky and rain down space junk. Personally, I think it would be awesome to take a telescope and check out some of these satellites. Heck, they are only going to be between 310 miles and 1,200 miles high versus geosynchronous (GSO) and geostationary (GEO) birds which hang up at roughly 27,000 miles high.
As far as ruining your stargazing, that is also a myth. Since the launch of Sputnik 1, we have added roughly 8,900 more geo-birds, of which 5,000 or so are still out there flying around – some dead, some active. So far no one has complained about that and there have only been a few instances of concern when a dying one did rain down a bit of space junk.
There is some concern on the LEO side, however. That is because Elon Musk’s SpaceX (Starlink) wants to put 25,000 LEO birds up, eventually.
Amazon’s Project Kuiper is targeting 3,200 satellites, or so. And there is OneWeb with 900 satellites. Others, like Iridium, have only a few satellites (66). However, that is a considerable amount of potential space junk.
Can that interrupt stargazing? That is a real stretch. As much “space” as there is out there, it is unlikely that they will cause any real degradation of space viewing. You may see one pass through your telescope while you are looking at Venus or Mars, or some other far-away object, but they are so small that it is unlikely you will even see them if they do pass through your field of vision.
There is, however, some concern about traffic management of all the birds from agencies that monitor that segment. As far back as 1978, Donald J. Kessler proposed the Kessler syndrome, or Kessler effect. Basically, it says that at some point, as the belt gets more and more crowded, it is possible for the low earth orbit (LEO) space to develop a self-sustaining cascading collision of space debris.
The theory proposes that once colliding among objects occurs, it will generate more debris, which then collides with other objects, creating even more shrapnel and litter until the entirety of LEO is an impassable array of super swift space junk. Now that would be some worthwhile viewing.
It is sad that people are so quick to jump on myth bandwagons – not just with 5G but so many others. But then, what are they supposed to believe? So much information is misinformation. They are no bounds for what can be disseminated, and most people are not well versed in advanced academics. So, it is easy to create myths.
Sadly, the truth is rarely stranger, or more interesting, than fiction. The difficult part is to mandate truth. However, that will never happen, regardless of how much regulation is passed, or how much censorship, self and governmental, is imposed. The best option is to force a level playing field where science can sit next to science fiction with equal visibility. And if there is no support for what is publicized, there should be a disclaimer to that effect.
Ah… dreaming of utopia…