26 miles east of Carlsbad, New Mexico and 2,150 feet underground, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
(WIPP) brings new meaning to the phrase "built to last". The world's third deep geological nuclear waste repository, WIPP was designed to house radioactive material for 10,000 years.
The primary challenge (keeping hazardous waste IN) was tackled by engineers. But for the secondary challenge - keeping living creatures OUT - the goverment recruited a team of geologists, linguists, astrophysicists, architects, artists, and writers. The job description included the words "the knowledge necessary to develop a marker system that will remain in operation during the performance period of the site - 10,000 years"
. Stymied by inevitable linguistic and orthographic drift
, the group has discussed a wide array of ideas, some more fabulously demented
than others (artificial moons, a nuclear containment-centric priesthood, a landscape of massive granite thorns). They intend to submit their final plan by 2028. [more inside]
posted by julthumbscrew
on May 23, 2014 -
The TSA saw the near-miss as proof that aviation security could not be ensured without the installation of full-body scanners in every U.S. airport. But the agency’s many critics called its decision just another knee-jerk response to an attempted terrorist attack. I agreed, and wrote to the Times saying as much. My boss wasn’t happy about it.
“The problem we have here is that you identified yourself as a TSA employee,
” she said.
Jason Harrington, author of the formerly anonymous Taking Sense Away
blog, on his experiences as a dissenter inside of the Transportation Security Administration
posted by gauche
on Jan 31, 2014 -
France has made Japan angry again
, this time with insensitive political cartoons
With radiation levels still spiking
, and the government only reticently admitting to constant leaks, some
are questioning the legitimacy of PM Abe's insistence that Tokyo is safe. With decisions not to prosecute
anyone involved in the disaster, it seems that amakudari
is, in Japan as in most other countries, still alive and well.
posted by GoingToShopping
on Sep 13, 2013 -
Scientists first discovered invisible gamma-ray flashes in Earth's atmosphere in 1991. This year, the radiation burst, known as dark lightning
, was discovered to be linked to regular lightning flashes.
Will you get zapped by dark lightning when flying through a thunder cloud? A single burst can give an airline passenger a lifetime's safe dose of ionizing radiation. But it is rare enough that, for now, the risk is thought to be minimal. The US Naval Research Laboratory is rigging balloons and aircraft to further study the radiation burst threat
posted by eye of newt
on Aug 18, 2013 -
With a database of over 5,000 scientists, from Nobel prize winners to postdocs and PhD students, Sense About Science
works in partnership with scientific bodies, research publishers, policy makers, the public and the media, to change public discussions about science and evidence. They make these scientists available for questions from civic organizations and the public looking for scientific advice from experts
, campaign for the promotion of scientific principles in public policy
, and publish neat guides to understanding science intended for laypeople. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb
on Feb 28, 2013 -
"I'm banned," he says. "By whom?" I ask. "My landlord," he says. "And the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority."
Jon Ronson on DIY science
posted by fearfulsymmetry
on Feb 4, 2012 -
It's raining radiation. It's a quiet night. We are well into autumn. And despite the growing sense in the Tokyo metropolitan area that things are now all right -- with train services back to pre-disaster schedules and the regret we once felt over our wasteful consumption of electricity dissipating -- Fukushima remains a war zone. [more inside]
posted by KokuRyu
on Oct 12, 2011 -
is a short film (5:17 - in Japanese w/ English subtitles) set in post-nuclear Tokyo. The film may be viewed at the blind website
, at Vimeo
or at YouTube
. Parents please be advised
: although the film features a young child, viewing by young children is not especially recommended, as they may be frightened.
posted by flapjax at midnite
on Sep 6, 2011 -
Steven Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists presents Fifty Years of Space Nuclear Power
"A plutonium fueled RTG that was deployed in 1965 by the CIA not in space but on a mountaintop in the Himalayas (to help monitor Chinese nuclear tests) continues to generate anxiety, not electricity, more than four decades after it was lost in place. See, most recently, "River Deep Mountain High"
by Vinod K. Jose, The Caravan
magazine, December 1, 2010." (MeFi previously
posted by HLD
on Jun 28, 2011 -
When programmers kill.
[pdf] In 1982, Atomic Energy Canada, Limited, introduced the now-infamous Therac-25, a solely software-driven successor to its earlier medical linear accelerators. Six patients
received massive amounts of radiation, and three died, before AECL was compelled to supplement the (faulty) software-only error-checking with hardware interlocks to prevent overexposure. [more inside]
posted by enn
on May 20, 2008 -
Don't you know that I'm toxic?
Toxic has you controlling a clean-suit wearing bomberman across destructible platform mazes in search of glowing green canisters, powerups and enemies to bomb the living bejesus out of. The chiptune soundtrack is pretty nice, too.
posted by boo_radley
on Sep 8, 2007 -
Undark and the Radium Girls
is the fascinating true story of several female employees of the US Radium Corporation at the turn of the 20th Centry. The women were employed to paint radioactive "Undark", a glow-in-the-dark paint for military application (dials that needed to be seen at night, etc) onto the machinery. The women were given lethal amounts of paint & fine brushes, which they all routinely kept sharp by wetting the tips in their mouths. Twenty years later, as their jawbones disintegrated & the tumors began to spread, they started down the path to figuring out who had murdered them, and how.
posted by jonson
on Jan 2, 2007 -
"From 1944 to 1986, 3.9 million tons of uranium ore were dug and blasted from Navajo soil, nearly all of it for America's atomic arsenal. Navajos inhaled radioactive dust, drank contaminated water and built homes using rock from the mines and mills. Many of the dangers persist to this day." A series of articles and photo galleries examines the legacy
of uranium mining
on the Navajo
(previously discussed here
.) [Via Gristmill, BugMeNot.]
posted by homunculus
on Nov 24, 2006 -
Air samples over North Korea show no radiation "It is possible there was no radiological data. That could be the case if: the North Koreans successfully sealed the site; it was such a small detonation and so deep underground there was no escape of nuclear debris; or the test was actually conventional explosives."
posted by Artw
on Oct 13, 2006 -
Chilling Out Mr. Radioactive
A group of scientists at Germany's Ruhr University
may have a way of cutting down the time it takes for radioactive waste to decay to a safer state. Instead of 1600 years for Radium-226, Prof. Claus Rolfs theorizes that he can cut that down to a mere 100 years, by encasing the materials in metal and then freezing them to very, very low temps to accelerate the radioactive decay
posted by fenriq
on Aug 1, 2006 -
This is a stunning set of photographs
by Robert Knoth, taken in the regions of Mayak, Semipalatinsk, Chernobyl, and Tomsk-7. [via]
posted by 327.ca
on Apr 22, 2006 -
The BBC reports
that twenty years on "the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power station is teeming with life." Lynx, eagle owl, wild boars, horses, wolves—even signs of bears which haven't been seen here in centuries.
British scientist and environmentalist James Lovelock (recently discussed
whether "small volumes of nuclear waste from power production should be stored in tropical forests and other habitats in need of a reliable guardian against their destruction by greedy developers."
Chernobyl as "a nasty accident that took 45 lives." This article in the New Scientist claims
that that the death toll may ultimately reach 60,000.
posted by 327.ca
on Apr 21, 2006 -
The Office of Human Radiation Experiments
, established in March 1994, leads the Department of Energy's efforts to tell the agency's Cold War story of radiation research using human subjects. We have undertaken an intensive effort to identify and catalog relevant historical documents from DOE's 3.2 million cubic feet of records scattered across the country. Internet access to these resources is a key part of making DOE more open and responsive to the American public.
posted by Dome-O-Rama
on Feb 16, 2006 -
Need a power source for your electric car
Be careful building a nuclear power
in your back yard
, or you could be the center of the next suburban
And it is perhaps best that he does not work on the ship's eight reactors, for EPA scientists worry that his previous exposure to radioactivity may have greatly cut short his life. All the radioactive materials he experimented with can enter the body through ingestion, inhalation, or skin contact and then deposit in the bones and organs, where they can cause a host of ailments, including cancer.
posted by b1tr0t
on Jun 28, 2005 -
That American forces use depleted uranium
in our weapons isn't news, but these statistic are a little spooky. According to Bob Nichols at the Dissident Voice
, we've unleased 4,000,000 pounds of DU in Iraq. That's the radioactive equivalent of 250,000 Nagasaki bombs
(pdf) says Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, former chief of Naval Staff in India. And since it's dust...it travels with the wind, which means Europe will see some fallout.
It also turns out that most of the soldiers didn't know they were using DU,
didn't know what DU was, and are now suffering reactions to it.
posted by dejah420
on Apr 6, 2004 -