HotAIR - Apoptosis Programmed Cell Phone Death


Cell Phone Death

A new gizmo wreaks revenge on wanton wireless yackers

by Marc Abrahams, editor, Annals of Improbable Research

You're sitting in a streetside café, sipping your coffee cold and writing your Java code. Then a jerk sits down right next to you, pulls out a cell phone, punches some buttons, and begins yacking at the top of his lungs. You want to kill him, of course. But might there be a better, less directly homicidal way to solve the problem?

A new product, called "Apoptosis," might be exactly what you need, and it should arrive just in time for the holidays.

The word "apoptosis" comes from biology: It means "programmed cell death." (Biologists have found that many cells are "programmed" by their DNA to die after some particular span of life.) Apoptosis -- the product -- is a new piece of hardware from WormWare Productions, the same outfit whose popular Stochastic Cleaner software was recently chronicled in this column. Like all WormWare products, Apoptosis costs $4.95.

What's so wonderful about Apoptosis? Simply this: It disconnects any cell-phone call within earshot of you.

Apoptosis has an effective range of 15 feet -- wide enough to get the job done, tight enough that it won't disrupt the phone connections of innocent neighbors.

Apoptosis is small and inconspicuous. It fits on a keychain. It looks like a worry bead. When someone nearby starts to gab, gab, gab on a cell phone, you simply adopt an innocent facial expression, squeeze your little "worry bead," and instantly see your wish come true: The jerk's cell-phone connection dies.

True, this product is the subject of various lawsuits, but they won't go anywhere. The telecom munications companies love Apoptosis. Each broken connection means that yet another call will be placed, racking up yet another lovely (from a telephone company's point of view) connect charge. The telecommunications industry is already making billions from this humble product. Look for it to keep putting up token legal protests for the sake of looking like a "responsible corporate citizen." But don't expect it to press even a single case toward completion.

What's our final verdict on Apoptosis? Thumbs up, bigtime. It benefits the common man and costs just $4.95. And it's so satisfying -- your neighbor's irritating conversations will end never with a bang, but always with a frustrated whimper.

This article is adapted from the regular column Marc used to write for Byte magazine. For a complete list of HotAIR features, see What's New.