Close to 40 years after its first publication, The Microwave Debate, Nicholas Steneck’s history of research and regulation of microwave health effects, is back in print —this time in Norwegian. The new translation comes with an epilogue by Thomas Butler, a professor at Ireland’s Cork University Business School, who has contributed seven chapters —about 30,000 words— to bring Steneck’s history up to the present.
The centerpiece of Steneck’s story is how the microwave exposure limit, known as the 10 milliwatt or Schwan standard, came about in the mid-1950s and continued to hold sway for decades. A four-member team, led by Steneck, published “The Origins of the U.S. Safety Standards for Microwave Radiation” in Science magazine in 1980.
The translation is the brainchild of Einar Flydal, formerly with Telenor, a telecom conglomerate serving the Nordic and many other countries. He has also been a consultant to the Norwegian Ministry of Education and an adjunct professor at the Norwegian University of Science & Technology (NTNU). After retiring in 2011, Flydal turned to speaking and blogging on EMF/RF health issues, including dirty electricity, smart meters, and most recently 5G. He lives in Oslo.
Asked why he had undertaken the translation, Flydal explained that as he was digging into EMF history he became fascinated by the work of Robert Becker and Andrew Marino, two biophysicists who, separately and together, wrote a number of books. Becker’s The Body Electric, which came out in 1985, a year after Steneck’s Debate, is considered a classic. It’s still in print.
Along the way, Flydal spotted a reference to The Microwave Debate and how it offered details on the origin of the U.S. exposure limit. Last year, he located a copy in a second-hand bookstore in San Diego. “I quickly realized that while it may be out of print, it’s not out of date,” Flydal told me. “I then spent most of the winter translating.” He also reached out to Butler, who, like himself, is highly critical of ICNIRP: Butler has described the Commission as carrying the torch “to protect the thermal view.”
Flydal said that the translation was worth the effort. The potential audience is larger than one might assume, he explained. “All Scandinavians can read Norwegian —although Swedes and Danes find it a bit odd. Icelanders can too.” (The total population of these four countries is over 22 million.)