In 2002, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a component of the World Health Organization, appointed an expert Working Group to review all available evidence on static and extremely low frequency electric and magnetic fields. The Working Group classified ELF-EMFs as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” based on limited evidence from human studies in relation to childhood leukemia. Static electric and magnetic fields and extremely low frequency electric fields were determined “not classifiable as to their carcinogenicity to humans.”
I was briefly a brain researcher once although I never showed up for work. A male professor hired me one day, and his wife fired me the next. She quite reasonably saw that the hours I had blithely agreed to work were inconsistent with my status as a full time undergraduate student.
Planck’s law states that the energy in electromagnetic radiation increases with frequency.
Since the 1970s, there has been a concern that low frequency radiation from power lines and transformers at 60 Hz (5000 km) might cause medical problems, particularly cancer. As the energy in low frequency radiation is low, any such effect is mysterious.
Since early in the 20th Century, radio signals, typically between 1 MHz (300 M) and 100 MHz (3 M), have been used to heat tissue. Diathermy was initially said to cure all kinds of ailments. At the time, these claims were surely exaggerated. Since then, diathermy has found legitimate uses.
Microwave radio signals typically have frequencies between 300 MHz (100 cm) and 300 GHz (0.1 cm). They are used in radar sets, cell phones, and microwave ovens.
Attacks on diplomatic personnel in Cuba and China may be linked to modulated microwave signals directed at them. They experienced hearing noises and may have suffered brain damage. This is a suspicion; no motive or perpetrator is known.
William Broad, writing in The NY Times on September 2, explores this subject at length. Broad writes:
Strikes with microwaves, some experts now argue, more plausibly explain reports of painful sounds, ills and traumas than do other possible culprits–sonic attacks, viral infections and contagious anxiety.
That microwaves can create audible sensations is well known. In 1960, Cornell researcher Allan Frey investigated reports that people could hear radar signals; he found this to be true.
Allan Frey, now 83, was interviewed for Broad’s article. Reportedly, Mr. Frey doubts that the case will be solved anytime soon. He believes the novelty of the crisis, the sporadic nature and the foreign setting made it hard for federal investigators to gather clues and draw conclusions much less file charges. Broad’s article concludes with a quote from Allan Frey:
Based on what I know, it will remain a mystery.
There is little reason to doubt that microwave weapons could have been used against diplomats in Cuba and China, but who might have done that and what they hoped to achieve is unknown.