Computer Question: EMR is everywhere

Vernon PC Users' Club

  • Oct. 9, 2011 6:00 p.m.

Q. What is EMR?

A. ElectroMagnetic Radiation is all around us in various forms, from that emanating from our sun as ultraviolet rays that manage to get through our atmosphere and can cause a nasty sunburn or worse if over-exposed, to low power infrared rays that we use to switch TV channels or open a garage door, to the radio frequency waves that abound today as people Tweet, text, browse and talk on various handheld wireless devices, and to the video frequency waves that are relayed by artificial satellites to millions of pizza-sized receiver dishes around the world.

I wonder what would happen if there was a master EMR switch on a wall and someone turned it to OFF? Back in 1901 when signals from a high-power transmitter located in Cornwall, England were reported to have been received 3,500 kilometers away across the Atlantic by Marconi at a receiving station on the Newfoundland coast, it wouldn’t have mattered a hill of beans, except to Marconi and his buddies, if the hypothetical EMR switch had been thrown. It’s not difficult to imagine what would happen today: absolute chaos. Our kids would be forced to abandon their iPods and the like and actually have face-to-face communication with their friends. Millions would perhaps pick up a book or a freshly recharged Kindle and read it as opposed to watching CSI or Oprah.

More millions would get off their butts and rather than heading for the fridge for a snack or a beer between commercials would actually go outside and do something healthy and/or creative not requiring EMR.

It’s unlikely such a thing would happen short of an apocalyptic solar event that would destroy our ionosphere and completely shut down most forms of EMR. No doubt such an occurrence would have some nasty side effects upon life on earth, but it would be fun to watch for a while. If we could only find a less destructive means — maybe an EMR dimmer switch that could selectively turn off certain annoying forms of EMR apps while giving users a small electromagnetic jolt.

The next meeting of the Vernon PC Users’ Club is Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Schubert Centre in the cafeteria. Call Betty at 542-7024 or Olive at 542-8490 for more information.


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