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The future is pointy for mobile phonies

BRITAIN'S five million mobile telephone users may soon literally be talking through their hats, if Harvard University scientists have their way.

They say people with cellular phones should wear aerials on the top of their heads, to lessen the risk of powerful electromagnetic fields harming their brains. To avoid embarrassment, they suggest incorporating the entire phone and aerial in a specially designed hat.

The hat is the brainchild of Dr Ronold King of the Gordon MacKay Laboratory at Harvard. He writes in the journal Radio Science: "The conventional hand-held cellular radio telephone is well designed for convenience and compactness, but not to minimise the exposure of the head to radiomagnetic fields."

These might cause brain cancer, he says. So "the cautious individual may well demand redesigned mobile transceivers that minimise the electromagnetic field in the brain". He admits, though, that the mobile phone might lose some of its cachet if owners had to go around looking like cartoon Martians. So he suggests putting "the entire structure, together with all necessary circuitry and batteries, in convenient form in a hat or helmet".

He told The Independent on Sunday: "It would look like the helmets worn by bicyclists or motorcyclists with a little vertical spike in the middle. It would be a bit like a Prussian helmet."

But Mike Caldwell, company communications manager for Vodaphone, was doubtful. "We do take the health scare seriously, but there is no known case of anyone being harmed anywhere in the world," he said.

"Besides, those who already get annoyed by people using mobile phones in trains might be a bit disconcerted to find themselves sharing a carriage with half the Prussian army."