Posts Tagged ‘radiation’

Crowdsourcing Radiation Monitoring In Japan

May 8th, 2011 05:16 admin View Comments


fysdt writes “A new open- and crowdsourced initiative to deploy more geiger counters all over Japan looks to be a go. Safecast, formerly, recently met and exceeded its $33,000 fund-raising goal on Kickstarter, which should help Safecast send between 100 and 600 geiger counters to the catastrophe-struck country. The data captured from the geiger counters will be fed into, which aggregates radiation readings from government, nonprofit, and other sources, as well as into Pachube, a global open-source network of sensors.”

Source: Crowdsourcing Radiation Monitoring In Japan

Fukushima Radiation Levels High, But Leak Plugged

April 6th, 2011 04:05 admin View Comments


jmcvetta wrote in with a story about Fukushima radiation levels so high that monitoring devices have been rendered useless. Levels outside the buildings exceed 100 millisieverts in some places. But the good news is that the Leak is Patched using 1500 litres of sodium silicate.

Source: Fukushima Radiation Levels High, But Leak Plugged

Study: Nuclear Fission Reactions May Have Continued After Fukushima’s Alleged Shutdown

April 4th, 2011 04:50 admin View Comments

Fukushima Daiichi Reactor #3
Reactor 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, on March 24

What’s the News: A non-peer-reviewed study (pdf) publicized last week by radioactivity-detection expert Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress suggests that nuclear fission reactions continued at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power station well after the plant’s operators had allegedly shut down the reactors there. The paper says there may be what are called “localized criticalities” have occurred in the plutonium and uranium left in the reactors—little pockets of fuel that have gone critical, propagating the nuclear chain reaction and generating potentially harmful radiation. The existence of criticalities is controversial: some researchers say there are certainly none; Dalnoki-Veress himself says it’s only a possibility.

How the Heck:

  • Over three days beginning March 13—two days after the earthquake and resulting tsunami—Tokyo Electric Power Company detected a neutron beam, a stream of radioactive particles that could be evidence of continued chain-reaction fission.
  • The company observed the neutron beam 13 times, about a mile away from the reactors. The beam itself doesn’t pose a health risk, with radiation levels between 0.01 and 0.02 microsieverts per hour. (You’d get about as much radiation exposure from eating one-tenth to one-fifth of a banana.)
  • After seawater was used to cool the reactors, the water had unusually high levels of chlorine-38, a radioactive isotope of chlorine. Chlorine-38 isn’t much of a radiation risk; its half-life is 37 minutes, so it disappears quickly. What’s strange is that chlorine-38 is formed when an atom of chlorine-37 (the stable, common chlorine isotope) absorbs a neutron. High levels of chlorine-38 mean there were lots of neutrons around, raising the possibility that melted bits of fuel may have gone critical.

What’s the Context:

  • An explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant came shortly after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan. Workers are still pumping in seawater to keep the reactors’ fuel rods cool, with leaks and disposal of the now-radioactive water presenting a new set of problems.
  • These localized criticalities, if they’re happening, could cause surges of radiation and heat, making cooling and containment work at the reactors even more perilous for workers.

Not So Fast:

  • Other experts are divided as to whether there’s even a chance that there are accidental fission reactions occurring. The dangerous conditions at the reactor make it difficult to get a good read on what, exactly, is going on. Nuclear safety expert Edwin Lyman told Time that he’d “be wary of attributing too much significance to a single anomalous measurement.” But Denis Flory, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency‘s nuclear safety department, said in a press conference that such reactions could potentially be occurring.

Image: Wikimedia Commons / derek visser

Source: Study: Nuclear Fission Reactions May Have Continued After Fukushima’s Alleged Shutdown

China Detects 10 Cases of Radiation Contamination, 2 In Hospital

April 3rd, 2011 04:45 admin View Comments


According to an article at The Sydney Morning Herald, “China has detected 10 cases of radioactive contamination among passengers, aircraft, ships and containers arriving from Japan since March 16, quarantine authorities said on Saturday. On Wednesday, radiation exceeding permitted levels was detected on two ships from the Japanese port of Chiba, near Tokyo, in the ports of Nantong and Zhangjiagang, Li Yuanping, spokesman of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, said on its website.” Meanwhile, airborne radiation from Japan is detectable in China, but thus far not considered a danger.

Source: China Detects 10 Cases of Radiation Contamination, 2 In Hospital

Crack In Fukushima Structure May Be Leaking Radiation

April 3rd, 2011 04:37 admin View Comments


SillySnake writes with this excerpt from Reuters: “Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said it had found a crack in the pit at its No.2 reactor in Fukushima, generating readings 1,000 millisieverts of radiation per hour in the air inside the pit. ‘With radiation levels rising in the seawater near the plant, we have been trying to confirm the reason why, and in that context, this could be one source,’ said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy head of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), said on Saturday.” Also of interest: Cryptome is featuring high-res photos of the reactor site, taken by UAV.

Source: Crack In Fukushima Structure May Be Leaking Radiation

US To Send Radiation-Hardened Robots To Japan

March 30th, 2011 03:05 admin View Comments


CWmike writes “The United States is sending specialized robots to Japan to help officials there get control of the Fukushima nuclear power plants damaged in this month’s devastating earthquake and tsunami. Dr. Peter Lyons, an acting assistant secretary for nuclear energy with the DoE, said the robots, which could be sent into areas that would be dangerous for humans to enter because of high radiation levels, could begin to give officials readings on the environment inside the nuclear power plants. Lyons told the US Senate on Tuesday, ‘We are moving expeditiously to ship not only the robots but also operators who perhaps will be used to train Japanese operators. We don’t know yet how close the operators will need to be to the site.’ Asked about getting information about the state of the damaged reactors, Lyons said the robots could provide some information. ‘Certainly not all we need, but some,’ he said.”

Source: US To Send Radiation-Hardened Robots To Japan

Things Get Worse at Fukushima

March 29th, 2011 03:47 admin View Comments


An anonymous reader writes “Radiation levels are skyrocketing around Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant as reports indicate that a radioactive core has overheated and melted through its containment vessel and onto a concrete floor. Radiation levels inside reactor two were recently gauged at 1,000 millisieverts per hour — a level so high that workers could only remain in the area for 15 minutes under current exposure guideline.”

Source: Things Get Worse at Fukushima

Crowd-Sourced Radiation Maps In Asia and US

March 24th, 2011 03:19 admin View Comments


kkleiner writes “In the past few weeks, several crowd-sourced radiation maps have arisen that attempt to give up to the minute looks at the threat level in the areas most likely to be affected by a catastrophe: Japan, Asia, and the US. These maps, available to the public for free online, are a timely example of how user-enabled systems are revolutionizing the way we solve problems. Tracking radiation levels is just the beginning. This is a preview of how accelerating technologies will allow us to monitor anything, anywhere, in realtime.”

Source: Crowd-Sourced Radiation Maps In Asia and US

How The Mainstream Media Is Failing Us With Its Nuclear Hysteria

March 24th, 2011 03:17 admin View Comments

The news from Japan is both awful and appalling. Awful: 23,000 confirmed dead or missing, and counting. Appalling: pretty much anything to do with the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant. Nuclear meltdown like Chernobyl! Deadly contaminated milk and radioactive tap water! Tokyo a postapocalyptic ghost town! A plume of radiation that threatens America’s West Coast!

Where do they get these morons? Again, twenty thousand people are dead, and the drooling dimwits of the media can’t stop babbling about Fukushima, where exactly one person died – a crane operator who had the misfortune to be up in the cab of his vehicle when the fifth largest earthquake in recorded history hit – and fewer than 30 were injured, only a handful of whom required treatment for radiation exposure.

But all the nattering nabobs can talk about is the hysteria cited above. I used to have time for CNN, but next time I visit America, it’ll be Fox News all the way. At least their idiocy is entertaining. I dare you to try to watch this CNN clip without cringing. It seems Bob Dylan was wrong: you do need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows—

It’s been interesting seeing which Fukushima stories went viral. First, Josef Oehmen’s post, the day after the disaster. (Why? My theory: because on the day it was the only available information written by someone who sounded like he actually knew what he was talking about.) Then Randall Munroe’s brilliant radiation explainer, which would have made Edward Tufte himself weep with delight. Finally, yesterday, this undeniably awesome Badass of the Week.

In short, the truth, context, and most compelling stories of the disaster have been promulgated by a) a weatherman, b) an amateur, c) a cartoonist, and d) Badass of the Week. Meanwhile, what were the so-called “real media” up to?

William Gibson@GreatDismal
William Gibson

Western media in race against time; hysterical nuclear bullshit nearing critical meltdown, yet millions are still uncontaminated.

March 18, 2011 11:26 am via TwitterrificRetweetReply

Of course I’m far from the first to be furious about this. Talking Points Memo, James Altucher, and Tim Bray, among many others, led the way. Noted environmental activist George Monbiot argues that Fukushima should turn people pro-nuclear power. But the voices of reason are mostly lost in the hurricane of panicked nonsense.

What went wrong? Well, never ascribe to malice what can be ascribed to ignorance, so I’m going to optimistically argue that the basic problem is that most journalists simply don’t have a clue when it comes to science and engineering. They don’t understand what they’re writing about; they don’t know which questions to ask; they don’t understand that science, unlike the arts, is ultimately about provability and falsifiability, not interpretation and opinion; they don’t know when government advice is reasonable and when it’s terrified CYA boilerplate; and they don’t know when to call bullshit on whatever source they have dredged up to provide “balance,” which they worship beyond all explanation.

Worse yet, instead of linking to their sources, they expect us to take what they say on faith. Consider Ben Goldacre’s recent excoriation of the (usually respectable) UK newspaper The Telegraph for a ridiculous piece headlined “Wind farms blamed for stranding of whales”, which was about a scientific paper which said nothing of the sort, and which wasn’t linked to in the article. Every serious story about Fukushima should link to that XKCD diagram. I can’t believe I just typed that sentence, but it’s true.


New rule: I don’t read “news” stories that don’t link to primary sources.

March 20, 2011 11:13 pm via webRetweetReply

Every story should link to all of its sources. Today the online story is the story of record; paper is disposable, irrelevant, and obsolete before it’s printed. But too many mainstream journalists still think print-first, which is one reason you get this kind of context-free nuclear hysteria, or “wind farms kill whales”, or the risible “cell phones kill bees” story from The Independent—again, a “serious” newspaper—four years ago.

To be fair, part of the problem is that no mainstream journalist could countenance writing about Hideaki Akaiwa in a manner as irreverent and entertaining as that of Badass of the Week; and they do still sometimes hit ‘em out of the park. Take this stunning New York Times piece about the so-called Fukushima 50. That is, if you can penetrate the paywall (at least in Canada, where I live). I know they have their reasons, but it’s sad to see the NYT (which has some excellent journalists who do understand technology) about to take two steps back from the online world just when we need them most.

This is all just going to get worse, because, increasingly, all stories are tech stories. Politics? Obama’s staggering online fundraising. Sports? BALCO and high-tech new equipment. Culture? These days, even fine art is all about the Arduino. Technology has insinuated itself into our lives to such an extent that every story now has a technical aspect — but yesterday’s dinosaur journalists will continue to write about them in the same clumsy-to-moronic way that they wrote about Fukushima.

Disaster there was averted by genuine heroism and desperately hard work. Nuclear power is potentially extremely dangerous and raises many serious issues, and it’s important to debate them in a well-educated way. Instead we got a crowd of fearmongering idiots, each trying to shriek louder than the last. As a result, Fukushima was the first major world story for which the best way to stay well-informed was to tune in to the knowledgeable blogosphere—and tune out the so-called “mainstream media.” We all know they’re dying. Now I’m starting to wonder why we should care.

Image credit: John Morrison, Flickr

Source: How The Mainstream Media Is Failing Us With Its Nuclear Hysteria

Steve Jobs To Tawkon: “No Interest” In Your Phone Radiation Measurement App

March 24th, 2011 03:48 admin View Comments

I see you driving ’round town with an app that measures cellular radiation, and I’m like “no interest”.

Apple head honcho Steve Jobs has made it abundantly clear that Tawkon‘s phone radiation measurement application is not welcome on its official App Store, pushing the startup to make it available for free (for jailbroken iPhones) through Cydia instead.

Tawkon sent a courteous email to Jobs in the hopes of gaining approval for distribution of the application through Apple’s App Store, only to receive a characteristically curt response back:

No interest.

Sent from my iPhone

The full email thread is below, immediately followed by the official music video of Cee-Lo Green’s ‘Fuck You’.

Source: Steve Jobs To Tawkon: “No Interest” In Your Phone Radiation Measurement App