Technology
Technology Myths
On WhatsApp, almost every user in India may have received a message about a missing young boy or girl with their parent (!) contact numbers and a request to help them search these kids. It may be true, but only sometimes. Most of the times, this appears to be a happy (misunderstood) forwarded message about doing a good social work. What shocks me more is that almost every recipient, without even thinking, simply forwards such messages. Similarly, several hoaxes that started with the expansion of Internet have now turned into technological myths. For example, there is an urban myth about how lightning gets attracted towards a mobile phone or camera flash and how a user was killed or injured. This is nothing but an urban technological myth, spread and kept alive by the educated illiterates.
 
A few days ago, there was an incident near Kolhapur where one person died as he was struck by lightning. His family also received some injuries and they said that when the lightning struck, he was talking on his mobile. Soon, there were several urban ‘experts’ sending out messages about not using mobile phones during a storm, especially when there is lightning. Some of those, whose names are used, are also labelled as ‘expert in disaster management’! 
 
According to US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), during storms, using mobile phone or cordless phones is safe because there is no direct path between the user and the lightning. However, avoid using a landline phone during a storm, unless it is an emergency, it advises. A Stanford University paper on “Lightning Effect on Cell Phones”, written by Shiv Agarwal, also says, “Cell phones (and cordless portable phones) used indoors during electrical storms are perfectly safe because there is no wire through which the electric discharge could travel. The belief that lightning can follow the radio waves is completely unfounded.”
 
What the message forwarding experts (!) fail to understand is that probably the person talking on a mobile phone, in this case, was struck by lightning because he may have been the tallest object around when the lightning struck and not due to usage of cell phone. Electricity requires a medium to pass through; otherwise, we would not have the network of electric towers, poles and wires hanging around (most of the places). The next time, ask the person (who has forwarded such a message) to direct his electric pole towards you so that you can recharge the batteries of your mobile through the air!
 
The same can be said to the person using a camera flash of mobile for shooting photos. Remember, there is no medium available for the lightning or electric current to pass through to the person taking photos.
 
Some may ask about wireless charging. This is a different technology, known as inductive charging, where an electromagnetic field (EMF) is used to transfer energy between two objects. In this, an induction coil is used to create an alternating EMF from the charging base. A second induction coil in the portable device or the recipient takes power from the EMF and reconverts it to electric current. But it has its own limitation—distance, for example. Both the charger and device need to be kept in close proximity which may cause inconvenience for users. More about this in future.
 
Another myth is that charging your device overnight is dangerous. In the earliest devices, there was a chance of the battery (nickel-cadmium) exploding due to overheating. However, all newer devices automatically stop charging once the battery reaches 100% level. Some people may be afraid to use a charger from a different mobile manufacturer; it is safe to use. 

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'India's toxic, growing e-waste needs better handling'
It can be toxic and hazardous to health. Yet, only a fraction of India's e-waste is recycled, making the country its fifth largest generator in the world. Better awareness and proper implementation of e-waste norms alone can address the issue, experts maintain.
 
A series of studies led by Assocham reveal some disturbing facts.
 
An estimated 1.8 million tonnes of e-waste is generated in the country, and is likely to grow to 5.2 million tonnes by 2020 at the predicted annual compounded growth of 30 percent, says one of its reports with cKinetics, a consultancy on sustainable business based here and in Palo Alto.
 
"But the sad part is a mere 2.5 percent of India's total e-waste gets recycled," said another of the chamber's study, in collaboration with Frost and Sullivan, attributing it mainly to poor laws and lack of adequate infrastructure.
 
"There are two reasons for the e-waste problem -- people are not aware about e-waste, and they do not have solutions to this issue," said Deepak Sethi, Chief Executive and Co-Founder of Delhi-based recycling company, Pompom.
 
"Worse, the waste that is segregated by the informal sector is either dumped or burnt, which is not the right thing to do," Sethi told IANS. "It is dumped in dustbins or sold, which is wrong. We should make sure e-waste goes to the right channels -- this is what needs to change."
 
India does have what is called E-Waste Management and Handling Rules since May 2012, which has laid the onus of recycling on companies along with an extended producer responsibility to ensure their efficient and appropriate collection. But the role of consumers is unclear.
 
Such waste includes discarded computer monitors, motherboards, cathode ray tubes, printed circuit boards, mobile phones and chargers, compact discs, headphones, white goods such as liquid crystal displays, plasma televisions, air conditioners and refrigerators.
 
Computer equipment account for 70 percent of e-waste material followed by telecom equipment (12 percent), electrical equipment (8 percent), medical equipment 
(7 per cent) and other equipment like household e-crap (4 percent), says an Assocham-KPMG study. 
 
Why such emphasis? This is because e-waste can contains toxic substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, gases and heavy metals, as also non-bio-degradbles like plastics, which are threats to both humans and the environment, if not handled properly.
 
Studies show that millions of people in India are involved in scavenging e-waste or in waste management, and because of the exposure to toxic material, 30 percent of their income goes towards medicines with a life expectancy of just 45 years.
 
Also, as a KPMG study points out, one segment alone needs better handling. With over one billion mobile phone subscribers, 12 percent of the e-waste is accounted for by the telecom sector. As 25 percent of the devices end up as e-waste each year, collection targets need to be put in place.
 
At the same time, Assocham has also said a system of feasible checks is needed and e-waste collection targets must be implemented in a phased manner with lower and practically achievable target limits.
 
The growing e-waste problem is compounded by increasing amount of e-waste dumping into India.
 
"But before looking at how we can curb the import of e-waste, it is important to understand why the e-waste is being exported from another country in the first place," said Rohan Gupta, Chief Operating Officer of Attero Recycling that promotes reuse and recycling of electronics.
 
"In most cases, countries of origin do not have required recycling technologies," he said, adding: "Since e-waste management rules, which prohibit import of e-waste, are already in place, the government must ensure stricter implementation of these laws to keep a tab on that."
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

Silloo Marker

5 months ago

A lot of people using computers, mobiles and other electronic products are aware of the dangers of dumping such equipment into the usual garbage bin. Since they don't know where exactly electronic waste may be safely disposed of, they generally put it into the dry waste bin (that is, if they are already segregating wet and dry waste at home), which is taken by the local sweeper to the raddiwallas who will buy anything and resell it those whose livelihood depends on it - the ragpickers, who do suffer the consequences of poor health due to their hazardous work.
It would certainly help if the municipality takes the responsibility for providing special collection bins for electronic waste and also ensures that it goes to a professional recycling unit.

Plane catches fire while making emergency landing in Singapore
A Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight caught fire while making an emergency landing at the island nation's Changi Airport on Monday.
 
Flight SQ368 had departed Singapore for Milan, Italy at 2.05 a. m., Xinhua news agency reported 
 
About two hours into the flight, the pilot announced that there was an engine problem and the flight would be turning back to Singapore.
 
The plane landed at about 7 a.m., after which its right wing burst into flames. 
 
The fire was extinguished quickly, according to video clips uploaded to social media by passengers who were onboard.
 
All passengers were subsequently disembarked from the plane, and no injuries reported, authorities said. 
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
 

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