New York Times, Aug. 3 (Richard Witkin): Families of victims of the 1983 downing of a Korean Air Lines jumbo jet by a Soviet fighter may collect unlimited compensatory damages from the airline because of the crew's "willful misconduct" in straying over Soviet air-space, a Federal court jury in Washington ruled yesterday . . . The term is legally defined as an intentional act performed with knowledge of likely injury to passengers or "with reckless disregard of the consequences." . . . Judge Robinson earlier dismissed lawsuits against the Soviet Government; the Boeing Company, the builder of the 747; Litton Industries, which made its navigation systems; and the United States Government, which employed the traffic controllers involved in the first part of the flight. N.B. The suit against the U.S. government was dismissed at the outset of the case some years ago, on the "ground" that the court refused to countenance U.S. government involvement; and a gag order was placed on government employees.
Summary of a lengthy article by William Trombley in the 'Los Angeles Times' 24-July-89: The California Dept. of Transportation (Caltrans) has begun its most ambitious research program, ranging all the way to "'Star Trek' systems that would propel 'platoons' of vehicles down automated freeways at 70 mph with only 50-foot separations between cars." "In some areas, like Los Angeles, there's no more room for new freeways and the next advace has to be technological," says Caltrans Director Robert Best. "We've paved the world, especially in the Los Angeles area," says UCDavis mechnaical engineering Prof. Andrew Frank, "and now we've got to make much more use of that pavement." Caltrans' new Office of Traffic Improvement has spent about $6 million so far, with most of the money going to the Univ. of California's Institute of Transportation Studies, which is sponsoring research by at least two dozen faculty members on several campuses. Most of the work has been gathered together in the Program on Advanced Technology on the Highway (PATH), which includes research on navigation, electrification, and automated highways. The article reviews a number of real and imagined systems. One real one is Pathfinder, a straightforward CD-based navigation system soon to be tested in 25 test cars for use along LA's Santa Monica Freeway. Other projects study electric vehicles, human factors ("how effectively drivers use automated equipment") and road pricing — charging motorists to use automated highways, including higher rates at peak hours. One complex project studies radar-equipped and computer-controlled cars, held in the center of the lane by a lateral guidance system that depends on electric sensors placed in the roadbed and provided with "a smarter version of 'cruise control'" called longitudinal control — moving cars at high speed without crashing into one another. The radar system is to be tested later this year with a "platoon" of six cars along an interstate highway north of San Diego (in a reversible lane unused during mid-day). The radar collision-avoidance system costs about $10,000 per unit now. A few key quotes from the final sections of the article: A major question is this: How will the public react to a system that takes decisions out of the hands of the individual driver and gives them to a computer?... A second problem is what to do with all the new vehicles that a more efficient road system would accommodate. Where will they park?... Then there is the question of liability... the Achilles heel of this research effort. "This system would be much safer than what's out there now," says PATH Director Robert Parsons, "but with this tech- nology, you can trace fault [for accidents]. How do you limit liability and keep the 'deep pockets' thing from killing us before we get started?"
The following brief item was in the "Regional News" section of the July 31, 1989, issue of CITY & STATE, a slick-paper tabloid trade paper for local government topics, page 22: COMPUTER SECURITY FAULTED A dearth of safeguards for the state computers that hold information on New York's drivers could allow system users to erase driving convictions and wipe out other records, state Comptroller Edward V. Regan has charged. The state Department of Motor Vehicles also lacks contingency plans to keep its computers running if a disaster shuts down operations at the agency's computing center, Mr. Regan said. He recently made the charges in an audit that reviewed security and disaster planning at the center between April 1987 and March 1988. That's all the info I have; maybe some NY-state people have more info from their local media on this topic. Will Martin
After a few exciting moments with airlines and some eccentric East-coast weather, I am back on the West coast, but backlogged with 17 days of EMAIL. Flying is not what it used to be. But then, as Arthur Clarke once lamented, regarding how difficult writing good science fiction was becoming, "The future isn't what it used to be." On the other hand, judging from the material waiting for RISKS-9.9, there are still lots of topics ready for this forum, and RISKS is again in there ready to dig it out for you. However, I see that I am not quite fully in the swing of things. Before everyone jumps on me, let me apologize for not setting the date on the masthead of RISKS-9.9, which of course should have been * 14 Aug 1989 *. With some people having gotten a net-gratuitous copy of RISKS-8.81 a month and a half late, I needn't have added further to the confusion. Sorry! By the way, I hope to move RISKS from KL.SRI.COM to CSL.SRI.COM this month. The archives will probably move to CRVAX.SRI.COM, because the KL is being decommissioned. The mailing list differences should be sorted out very soon, but a few of you may experience some bumps in the process. There are also a bunch of nonworking addresses at the moment, and I am hoping that the CSL (Sun) mailer tables will simplify matters. (For example, the KL does not let me ANSwer mail from BITNET or UUCP, while the CSL does. That is a real pain.) So, a little patience is in order. Thanks. Peter
<LEICHTER@Venus.YCC.Yale.Edu> Subject: "Radiation" or "Fields" In RISKS 9.7, Jan Wolitzky takes Gordon Hester to task for distinguishing "fields" from "radiation" in discussion the hazards of ELF electromagnetic sources. It is quite true that "radiation" is the scientifically correct word across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. But things are not quite that simple. When we think about an electromagnetic radiator, we almost always think of its "far field" - the region in which it behaves in the familiar way as a traveling way of crossed E and B fields. But there is also a "near field" region with quite different characteristics. It's been way too many years since I looked at this stuff, so I can't vouch for any of the details, but as I recall near field effects drop off exponentially, so are not an issue except very close to the radiator. But near enough, they are dominant. If you think only in terms of far field effects, you are hard pressed to explain how a transformer can possibly work at 60 Hz - the "radiator" and receiver are tiny fractions of a wavelength long! When one talks about shielding for appliances, one talks about shielding the magnetic and electic fields independently. This would be meaningless in the far field, where the connection between the two is fixed. I'm not certain that it was this distinction that Hester was getting at, nor do I know exactly what the significance of the near/far field distinction in this area is - though I expect its essential: The far field produced by any object the size of an appliance at 60 Hz must be minuscule. (Note that this may be very different from a power transmission line.) — Jerry
Unlike Gordon Hester in volume 9, issue 6, I found Paul Brodeur's series of three articles in The New Yorker Magazine balanced and fascinating. He discusses the clearly-shown (epidemiologically & statistically, not by argument based on theoretical considerations) health effects of three different types of non-ionizing radiation. At least one of these — magnetic fields from CRT terminals — most readers of Risks are probably heavily exposed to. These articles seem so worth reading that I will refrain from providing any summary at all. The New Yorker is available in most good libraries, and the stories appeared in successive issues beginning June 12. Rather than be dissuaded from reading them by Mr. Hester's comments, go to the library and judge for yourself.
I have some real problems with Jan Wolitzky's comments on Gordon Hester's review of Paul Brodeur's New Yorker article. Wolitzky's high school education seems to have been an example of the crisis in science education we hear so much about. The correct technical term is field. (I have a Ph.D. in chemical physics, and in a former life taught some of the introductory physics courses at Harvard, so I think I'm on reasonably safe ground here.) The purest example of the difference between the electromagnetic field and electromagnetic radiation is a static charge - a charged capacitor doesn't radiate at all but it certainly has an electric field. Maxwell's equations are FIELD equations that turn out to have electromagnetic radiation as one set of solutions. The quantum picture, with wave/particle duality and all that, muddies the picture a little, but in quantum physics one usually says "radiation" with the single-isolated-particle view (i.e., with single photons, neutrons, alpha particles, etc.) and "fields" with the collective-action view. In fact most of the concerns about EMF concern the near-field effects surrounding powerlines, electric blankets, computer terminals, and so on, and not the radiation from such devices, which is relatively small. As an example of how the term "radiation" can "mislead the unwary," consider the phrase marked with carets above. In addition to its fuzziness (wavelength is inversely proportional to frequency, which is directly proportional to energy PER PHOTON; they are intimately interrelated in modern physical theory but not "different ways of expressing the same thing"), it entirely misses the point of the difference between low-frequency EMF and ionizing radiation: Biological effects of low-frequency EMF can't have any relation at all to individual photons — a 60 Hz photon has a trillionth of the thermal energy surging around in a molecule at body temperature or in one of the infrared photons that swarm around us as thermal background. The normal fluctuations in a molecule's heat energy from picosecond to picosecond far exceed the energy of such a photon. Biological effects can only stem from the collective action of the field and the energy (or better, the strength) of the field, which is unrelated to its frequency and wavelength; the effects themselves may have a frequency dependence through dispersive phenomena in the body, and might also depend on the orientation of the field. Perhaps Wolitzky needs to go back to school. Now somewhere I have a copy of Jackson's Classical Electrodynamics, crammed into my head by Nico Bloembergen (who later won a Nobel Prize for his work on lasers), that I might be willing to part with... John H. Martin, Kendall Square Research Corporation, 170 Tracer Lane, Waltham, MA 02154
The difference between radiation and fields is somewhat pedantic. But, if your close enough to a power line to have to worry, you are well inside the near field and the couplings wsill be much easier to compute by field theory than by radiation theory. The differentiation from ionizing radiation is not pedantic. We have some knowledge about the damage mechanism of ionizing radiation. We have no knowledge about the damage mechanism of ELF fields except that they are subtle and almost certainly different from those of ionizing radiation. To ignore the possibility of damage is foolish, to confuse the two is to cause confusion and unnecessary fear. We have to keep the problems separate. Irv I do not have signature authority. I am not authorized to sign anything. I am not authorized to commit the BRL, the DOA, the DOD, or the US Government to anything, not even by implication. Irving L. Chidsey
In 1963 (yes, I am that old),while doing nonlinear optical work at the IBM research lab. in San Jose,I was invited by people at the US-Army Medical Research Headquarters in Fort Knox, Kentucky,to give them the benefit of my advice regarding some peculiar experimental results that they had obtained and which some people there believed to be related to multiphoton absorption (on which I with some others had just published some papers). I accepted the invitation and spent a very interesting day with them. They were a group of medical doctors and some biophysicists looking into biological EMF effects in a variety of ways. This is not the place for a general comment though I shall point out that I (a Canadian and thus a foreign national) was never asked to keep anything I saw or talked with them about confidential and, in fact, expected to see some of their work published in due course. The specific experiment I was consulted on, looked at the the deactivation of the enzyme alpha-amylase by extremely low intensity rf fields in the region of about 10 MHz (they used an old General Radio rf generator)and the deactivation occurred (in aqueous solution, I believe) at very sharply defined frequencies that had a regular spacing with some integral relationships (I don't recall the exact details) of the spacing, something like multiples of 150 KHz and with widths of KHz. While their results seemed to have absolutely nothing to do with my own research, as an experimental physicist I looked very carefully at their experimental setup and could find nothing wrong with it and no obvious possible explanation for their results in terms of an experimental artifact. I found the results extremely intriguing, particularly as they had found similar (although experimentally more difficult and less clear in terms of confidence) effects on gamma globulin in the region of 200 MHz. The implications of low intensity biological effects on enzymatic activity are profound to say the least, though by their very nature they would be very difficult to pin down, particularly in complex organisms like rats or mice, let alone men (or women). Naturally, I expected to hear more about this and over the years have broached the subject with many friends and colleagues in physics as well as biology. None had ever heard about this. Some in the 60s wrote to the people in Fort Knox about it,but never received an answer.In all the writings on the subject of biological EMF effects, for instance in reviews in SCIENCE etc., I have never heard a mention. This is the end of the story. Now my questions: Has anybody heard about this type of effect? Is anybody interested in this? Has someone suggestions as to how one could (after all these years) find out more about this? I still find it hard to believe that what I saw turned out to be an experimental error of the cold fusion kind. Also, I find it still strange, that nobody should ever have tried to look for low field-strength EMF effect on enzyme activity. But then I have certainly no time to look into that kind of literature. However, some of the people I talked to should have heard about such research. None have. Klaus Rieckhoff, Dept.of Physics, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby,B.C. V5A 1S6, Canada. USERKLUS@SFU.BITNET Klaus_Rieckhoff@cc.sfu.ca
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