Digital AustinMan Created to Study Cell Phone Radiation

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Credit: Ali Yilmaz, University of Texas at Austin

Digital AustinMan Created to Study Cell Phone Radiation

This Behind theِ Scenes article wasِ providedِ to LiveScience inِ partnership withِ theِ National Science Foundation.
To study theِ effects ofِ cell phones onِ the human body, researchers haveِ created a virtual body thatِ isِ unmatched inِ its richness ofِ detail.
AustinMan isِ a virtual receptacle forِ radiation, anِ ultra-high-resolution, threeِ dimensional map ofِ the human body; heِ is helping researchers understand moreِ aboutِ the potential health-related effects ofِ wireless devices.

Thermal effects

The danger ofِ cell phones isِ much discussed andِ debated, butِ scientists stillِ haveِ many questions aboutِ cell phone useِ andِ health concerns suchِ asِ cancer.
We knowِ that cell phones radiate electromagnetic power and, justِ like yourِ microwave ovens, ifِ you turn upِ theِ power enoughِ you areِ going toِ heat andِ cook tissue.
The open question isِ howِ much isِ too much.

Extreme simulations

To estimate theِ absorbed power accurately, theِ researchers useِ advanced algorithms onِ supercomputers.
He represents theِ human anatomy throughِ somethingِ akin toِ a virtual Lego body composed ofِ extremely small, one-millimeter cubed blocks.
In theِ 1990s, a Texas death row inmate donated hisِ body toِ science; itِ was scanned toِ create theِ images.) The team’s extreme simulations usingِ AustinMan wouldِ beِ impossible usingِ traditional computing methods andِ software.

Initial Results

The team’s initial results withِ AustinMan illustrate theِ importance ofِ havingِ high-resolution body models.
In a recentlyِ submitted paper, Yilmaz andِ his students showed thatِ low-resolution models canِ under- orِ over-estimate theِ power absorbed byِ the skin, theِ cornea, theِ cerebrospinal fluid andِ brain matter byِ up toِ 50 percent.
Examples ofِ questions theِ team canِ answer: Can weِ increase theِ radiated power 100 times toِ getِ much betterِ video connectivity.

We are developing cutting-edge simulation technology that can help answer these questions, Yilmaz said.

Editor’s Note:The researchers depicted inِ Behind theِ Scenes articles haveِ beenِ supported byِ the National Science Foundation, theِ federal agency charged withِ funding basic research andِ education across allِ fields ofِ science andِ engineering.
Any opinions, findings, andِ conclusions orِ recommendations expressed inِ this material areِ those ofِ the author andِ do notِ necessarily reflect theِ views ofِ the National Science Foundation.
See theِ Behind theِ Scenes Archive..