First, let’s wash our hands.
His name is Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis, a Hungarian physician and scientist. I bet you have never heard of him. But he was the one who started this hand washing tradition which everyone is being asked to do at the moment.
Ignaz discovered that the incident of “childbed” fevers amongst women giving birth in Austrian hospitals (which was very high and fatal) could be reduced to less than 1% when their doctors washed their hands with chlorinated lime solutions.
The proof was obvious but Ignaz could not explain the science behind it. Back in 1840s no one knew anything about germs and how doctors hands served as carriers and source of infection within hospitals. His colleagues ridiculed him so much that he suffered mental breakdown and was confined, by the same colleagues, to an asylum where he was physically abused to death at the age of 47.
Years later, another scientist, Louis Pasteur proved the existence of germs, making hand washing and other hygiene practices became standard in hospitals since then
New York, 1884.
A Serbian man called Nikola Tesla arrived the United States to begin work with his intellectual idol, Thomas Edison. Edison was a serial inventor. So was Tesla. Though they admired each other, their employer-employee relationship was combustive.
Four years prior to Tesla’s coming to America, commercial electricity had made its debut in the United States and Edison was at the forefront of pushing the new technology to people’s homes with generators.
As the industry expanded, there came the need to supply many homes and businesses from a central generator through transmission lines. Edison was using a direct transmission (Direct Current-DC) system to do that. The system was inefficient and led to a lot of loss of electricity generated. Tesla came up with a better and more efficient system he called the Alternative Current (AC) that should be used for long distance transmission of electricity.
Edison, either out of ego or envy tossed Tesla’s idea into the garbage dump despite the valid science behind it. Tesla kept bringing up the idea which irritated Edison so much that he fired Tesla.
Telsa set up his own company to propagate alternative current transmission system and won a few significant contracts. Edison, a more established business man and friend of the New York press corps began a media war that claimed alternative current would lead the mass electrocution of electricity users even though he could not provide any proof. Tesla countered Edison with a road show in which he ran alternative current through his body to show that it was safe. Despite Tesla’s rigorous fight back, Edison media war brought Tesla to his knees. His business crumbled and he died a pauper in a New York hotel room.
Later, the science of electricity transmission backed Tesla’s position and we have been using alternative current for transmission of electricity to our homes since then. You can get a glimpse of that battle from a YouTube documentary titled, “The men who built America”.
It was this same kind of controversy that brought air conditioning to millions of homes today. It is a familiar route for technological breakthroughs, whether they come out of the blues or on the back of existing technologies.
5G and the bliss of foolishness
5G network is the current step in global telecommunications technology. All continents except Africa are deep into the game. Somehow, China made it past the finish line first and was ready to deploy the technology around the world through a Chinese company called Huawei.
Suddenly, the Americans began to suggest that the Chinese Government had either infiltrated Huawei or instructed the company to implant espionage software into 5G backbone equipment and software. Since then, conspiracy theories have taken control, ably bouyed by social media misinformation pipelines.
My concern in the matter is how Nigerians jumped into the fray when they contribute nothing to the development of modern technology. How come we take delight in talking about things we know next to nothing about with so much confidence?
5G will make everything we have experienced with 4G a child’s play. Soon the technology will be deployed in Nigeria, and the same people who are busy talking senseless things on social media will be asking why their Networks have not offered 5G services.
The process of evaluating the effects of any technology is a much more complicated thing than what social media crawlers are throwing around.
According to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his book “Creativity Flow and the Psychology of discovery and invention”, the issues of the acceptability of any technology is determined by two groups which he called: The Domain and the Field.
The Field is made up of the professionals in any field. They are the first line gate keepers against any new invention or discovery. If an invention successful makes it past them, it goes into the Domain, that is, the main institutions that regulate a particular industry. These are the men, few they usually are, who can kill any new invention or discovery.
Sometimes, these men can be driven by real science. At other times, they are influenced by commercial interests. Nevertheless, after a while, the truth comes out and everyone makes up his mind on what to believe and accept.
Interestingly, neither of these two groups are pushing the ongoing conspiracy theories. Therefore, everyone screaming out there right now is just a distracting noise maker who should be completely ignored. Ignored because some of the stuff they are saying are simply trash that have no bearing with 5G technology.
More often than not, this kind of raging but meaningless controversy is usually the handiwork of a sophiscated surrogate of an entrenched corporate interest or that of one low life fellow who feeds on sodas and pizzas somewhere in the world. He would right now be laughing at the silliness of people around the world who are busy pulling their hair over a technology that is already part of our life with no proven danger to our life any more than existing telephone infrastructure.
So, just like the Minister of Petroleum Resources said at a recent forum, quoting what an Indian told him, Nigerians should learn
“HOW TO SHUT UP!”