The history of water tells us about the future of cell phones
June 15, 2009

The start of modern municipal water treatment can be traced to an outbreak of cholera in London in 1854. John Snow determined that the disease was being spread by a water pump on Broad Street that was drawing contaminated water from immediately beneath a sewer. The Broad Street pump case is renowned for demonstrating the value of epidemiology and for initiating a drive towards improving municipal drinking water. Today, the very same lessons that helped Snow determine what had caused the outbreak and how to stop it are being applied to the spread of "infections" through mobile-phone systems. The lessons of the Broad Street outbreak are still being applied today, since millions of people still don't have access to safe drinking water. Most Americans are probably unaware of just how much effort goes into delivering safe drinking water to their homes and workplaces, or of how much is required to safely treat wastewater so it can be returned to the natural environment.

June 2009
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last revised June 2009