The reception bars on your cellphone represent EC/I0 values, which is the scientific measurement that signifies how much of a cellphone's available reception is actually usable. Well, according to the chaps at Ask Metafilter, the bars that are actually present on your cellphone are a watered down representation of the true values. Why so?
Apparently, the EC/I0 readings are far from stable and fluctuate many times a minute. Due to this fact, the approximation that is employed is largely meaningless. On the flip side, if you are constantly in an area with strong reception, the deviations in readings are not going to be large, so the vague representation shall be accurate enough. Still, you conspiracy whores, get your hats off and do some sweating. For more information on the EC/I0 rating standard, hit the link and get your read on. [Ask Metafilter via Boing Boing]