He said: I’m worried about this 5G technology. It sounds very dangerous.

She said: What do you propose to do about it?

He said: I think I’ll do some research on Facebook.

She said: OMG.

Research on Facebook? Doesn’t he know ‘research’ and ‘Facebook’ don’t go together in the same sentence? Anybody can post anything on Facebook and, given the number of certifiable nutjobs out there ready and eager to do just this, the site is not the place to go when you plan to pursue a line of inquiry.

Save Facebook for your family photos, cheery messages, and ‘likes’. That’s what it does best.

So where might one go in order to research 5G? Well, I know it doesn’t sound at all sexy, but why not start with a high-school physics textbook? In the index at the back, you should find ‘electromagnetic radiation’. That’s ten syllables, so let’s shorten it to EMR.

Shock horror! The dreaded R-word. Radiation. Isn’t that the stuff of nuclear bombs, and out-of-control nuclear reactors? An invisible killer. Think Hiroshima, Chernobyl, Fukushima.

Sorry to disabuse you. EMR has been on this earth before we humans were. We live in a soup of EMR. We evolved to live in harmony with it and, as a result, we cannot survive without it. Fortunately the laws of physics have it that all objects, living and non-living, with a temperature above absolute zero (roughly -273 C), emit oodles and oodles of EMR. You, sitting in your +20 C living room, are a powerhouse of EMR production.

Most EMR in nature is benign. Our earth has an ozone layer protecting us from most of the dangerous stuff coming from space, the high frequency end of the EMR spectrum and lots more besides. In fact, because this benign EMR is everywhere around us, it really should be regarded as a fifth element after the quartet of Earth Air Fire and Water that was once recognized throughout the ancient world. Earth Air Fire Water and Radiation. I suggest we use the acronym WAFER to represent these five things on which our life is so dependent. We all love acronyms, don’t we?

So where does 5G fit into all this?

Radio, TV, wi-fi, and all the Gs from two to five, make use of an extremely benign portion of the spectrum – to which we have given the name ‘radio waves’ – of the already quite benign soup through which we swim. Early in the 20th century, people began to realize they could exploit these radio waves. Through a process known as modulation, they found they could send signals with the wave as carrier. Modulating the waves does not make them suddenly more dangerous than the regular radio waves found in nature.

Think of carrier pigeons. Through the processes of breeding and training, we can get pigeons to carry messages taped to their legs. But carrier pigeons are no more dangerous than regular pigeons that haven’t been bred or trained. They are not about to peck our eyes out.

And, for crying out loud, that’s all 5G is. No, not trained pigeons, but radio waves carrying messages for us. These waves are not about to fry our brains. They are not the cause of Covid-19. They are stuff humans have lived with for millennia, during which Da Vinci, Shakespeare, Beethoven, Newton, and Einstein thrived. And you and I.

So, before you take up with nutjobs and embrace their conspiracy theories, consider this in summary:

WAFER has been around for miillions if not billions of years. That includes the R for Radiation. Because we evolved on a planet drenched in WAFER, we cannot do without it. Without WAFER we would not exist. And 5G, just like 2G 3G and 4G before it, is nothing more than an extremely benign form of R for Radiation whose use to transmit messages we, clever mob that we are, have learnt to harness. Let’s not burn down 5G towers. Instead let’s enjoy the benefits they have to offer.

He said: I’m so glad you’ve clarified that for me.

She said: Don’t mention it.

He said: But I’m very worried about vaccinations. I saw on Facebook they cause autism.

She said: OMG.