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Posts Tagged ‘radiation’

Trip To Mars Could Damage Astronauts’ Brains

January 2nd, 2013 01:00 admin View Comments

Mars

Hugh Pickens writes writes “Alex Knapp reports that research by a team at the Rochester Medical Center suggests that exposure to the radiation of outer space could accelerate the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in astronauts. ‘Galactic cosmic radiation poses a significant threat to future astronauts… Exposure to … equivalent to a mission to Mars could produce cognitive problems and speed up changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease’ says M. Kerry O’Banio. Researchers exposed mice with known timeframes for developing Alzheimer’s to the type of low-level radiation that astronauts would be exposed to over time on a long space journey. The mice were then put through tests that measured their memory and cognitive ability and the mice exposed to radiation showed significant cognitive impairment. It’s not going to be an easy problem to solve, either. The radiation the researchers used in their testing is composed of highly charged iron particles, which are relatively common in space. ‘Because iron particles pack a bigger wallop it is extremely difficult from an engineering perspective to effectively shield against them,’ says O’Banion. ‘One would have to essentially wrap a spacecraft in a six-foot block of lead or concrete.’”

Source: Trip To Mars Could Damage Astronauts’ Brains

Fukushima Fish Still Radioactive

October 26th, 2012 10:28 admin View Comments

Japan

the_newsbeagle writes “Bottom-dwelling fish that live near the wrecked Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant still show elevated radiation levels 19 months after the accident — and those radiation levels are not declining. Researcher Ken Buesseler says this indicates the seafloor sediments are contaminated (abstract), and will remain so for decades. He said, ‘I was struck by how [the radiation levels] really haven’t changed over the last year. Since cesium doesn’t bioaccumulate to a significant degree, and in fact is lost when fish move to a less contaminated area, this implies that the cesium source is still there’”

Source: Fukushima Fish Still Radioactive

Bruce Perens: The Day I Blundered Into the Nuclear Facility

October 3rd, 2012 10:03 admin View Comments

Power

Bruce Perens writes “I found myself alone in a room, in front of a deep square or rectangular pool of impressively clear, still water. There was a pile of material at the bottom of the pool, and a blue glow of Cherenkov radiation in the water around it. To this day, I can’t explain how an unsupervised kid could ever have gotten in there.”

Source: Bruce Perens: The Day I Blundered Into the Nuclear Facility

How Does the Tiny Waterbear Survive In Outer Space?

September 11th, 2012 09:46 admin View Comments

Space

DevotedSkeptic sends this excerpt from SmithsonianMag: “The humble tardigrade, also known as a ‘waterbear’ or ‘moss piglet,’ is an aquatic eight-legged animal that typically grows no longer than one millimeter in length. Most tardigrades (there are more than 1,000 identified species) have a fairly humdrum existence, living out their days on a moist piece of moss or in the sediment at the bottom of a lake and feeding on bacteria or plant life. In 2007, a group of European researchers pushed the resilience of this extraordinary animal even further, exposing a sample of dehydrated tardigrades to the vacuum and solar radiation of outer space for 10 full days. When the specimens were returned to earth and rehydrated, 68 percent of those that were shielded from the radiation survived, and even a handful of those with no radiation protection came back to life and produced viable offspring. How do the little tardigrades survive such a harsh environment? Although amateur tardigrade enthusiast Mike Shaw recently made waves by postulating that the animals may be equipped to survive in outer space because they originally came from other planets, scientists are certain that the creatures developed their uncommon toughness here on earth.”

Source: How Does the Tiny Waterbear Survive In Outer Space?

Twin Craft To Study Space Weather From Within Earth’s Radiation Belts

August 23rd, 2012 08:40 admin View Comments

NASA

Early Friday morning (just a few hours from now), if the Florida weather holds, two satellites are set to launch (here’s the live-blogged play-by-play) from NASA’s launch facility on Cape Canaveral on a mission to study the radiation belts that surround earth and (among other things) help make this planet friendly for life. The Radiation Belt Storm Probes mission features twin craft engineered by Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Lab which “will operate entirely within the radiation belts throughout their mission. When intense space weather occurs and the density and energy of particles within the belts increases, the probes will not have the luxury of going into a safe mode, as many other spacecraft must do during storms. The spacecraft engineers must therefore design probes and instruments that are ‘hardened’ to continue working even in the harshest conditions.”

Source: Twin Craft To Study Space Weather From Within Earth’s Radiation Belts

The Panic Over Fukushima

August 18th, 2012 08:54 admin View Comments

Japan

An anonymous reader points out an article in the Wall Street Journal about how irrational fear of nuclear reactors made people worry much more about last year’s incident at Fukushima than they should have. Quoting: “Denver has particularly high natural radioactivity. It comes primarily from radioactive radon gas, emitted from tiny concentrations of uranium found in local granite. If you live there, you get, on average, an extra dose of .3 rem of radiation per year (on top of the .62 rem that the average American absorbs annually from various sources). A rem is the unit of measure used to gauge radiation damage to human tissue. … Now consider the most famous victim of the March 2011 tsunami in Japan: the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Two workers at the reactor were killed by the tsunami, which is believed to have been 50 feet high at the site. But over the following weeks and months, the fear grew that the ultimate victims of this damaged nuke would number in the thousands or tens of thousands. The ‘hot spots’ in Japan that frightened many people showed radiation at the level of .1 rem, a number quite small compared with the average excess dose that people happily live with in Denver. What explains the disparity? Why this enormous difference in what is considered an acceptable level of exposure to radiation?”

Source: The Panic Over Fukushima

Injected Proteins Protect Mice From Lethal Radiation Dose

June 26th, 2012 06:01 admin View Comments

Biotech

ananyo writes “Two anti-clotting compounds already approved for use in humans may have a surprising role in treating radiation sickness. Last year’s nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan renewed anxiety over the lack of treatments for radiation poisoning. It was long thought that the effects of exposure to high doses of radiation were instantaneous and irreversible, leading to destruction of the gut and loss of bone marrow cells, which damages blood-cell production and the immune system. The two compounds are thrombomodulin (Solulin/Recomodulin), currently approved in Japan to prevent thrombosis, and activated protein C (Xigris). Treating mice with either drug post-exposure led to an eightfold increase in key bone marrow cells needed for the production of white blood cells, and improved the survival rates of mice receiving lethal radiation doses by 40–80% (abstract). And yes, the lead author’s name really is Geiger.”

Source: Injected Proteins Protect Mice From Lethal Radiation Dose

Injected Proteins Protect Mice From Lethal Radiation Dose

June 26th, 2012 06:01 admin View Comments

Biotech

ananyo writes “Two anti-clotting compounds already approved for use in humans may have a surprising role in treating radiation sickness. Last year’s nuclear accident in Fukushima, Japan renewed anxiety over the lack of treatments for radiation poisoning. It was long thought that the effects of exposure to high doses of radiation were instantaneous and irreversible, leading to destruction of the gut and loss of bone marrow cells, which damages blood-cell production and the immune system. The two compounds are thrombomodulin (Solulin/Recomodulin), currently approved in Japan to prevent thrombosis, and activated protein C (Xigris). Treating mice with either drug post-exposure led to an eightfold increase in key bone marrow cells needed for the production of white blood cells, and improved the survival rates of mice receiving lethal radiation doses by 40–80% (abstract). And yes, the lead author’s name really is Geiger.”

Source: Injected Proteins Protect Mice From Lethal Radiation Dose

FCC Revisiting Mobile Device Radiation Standards

June 15th, 2012 06:40 admin View Comments

Cellphones

MojoKid writes “Did you know that the FCC hasn’t updated its guidelines regarding maximum radiation levels in mobile devices since 1996? FCC chairman Julius Genachowski is apparently aware of this, because he’s looking to launch a formal inquiry into the matter. In a statement that was recently circulated, the FCC isn’t exactly concerned that current standards are too lax, but it makes sense to periodically review standards for an industry that changes and evolves so rapidly and dramatically. There has been much debate in recent years about the potential danger of radiation from cell phones, and although there has been some study on the subject, there is not yet a general consensus on whether there is a real danger from mobile device radiation, and if there is, what the acceptable levels might be.”

Source: FCC Revisiting Mobile Device Radiation Standards

What Struck Earth in 775?

June 4th, 2012 06:50 admin View Comments

Earth

ananyo writes “Just over 1,200 years ago, the planet was hit by an extremely intense burst of high-energy radiation of unknown cause, scientists studying tree-ring data have found. The radiation burst, which seems to have hit between 774 and 775, was detected by looking at the amounts of the radioactive isotope carbon-14 in tree rings that formed during the 775 growing season in the Northern Hemisphere. The increase in 14C levels is so clear that the scientists conclude that the atmospheric level of 14C must have jumped by 1.2% over the course of no longer than a year, about 20 times more than the normal rate of variation (abstract). Yet, as the only known events that can produce a 14C spike are supernova explosions or giant solar flares, and neither event was observed at the time, astronomers have a cosmic mystery on their hands.”

Source: What Struck Earth in 775?

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