The Raycat Solution is a 15 minute documentary by Benjamin Huguet about an idea proposed in 1981 by philosophers Françoise Bastide and Paolo Fabbri that by genetically engineering cats to be living Geiger counters, we could create a warning system for radioactive waste that would last at least ten thousand years. The idea languished for decades until Matthew Kielty did a feature on it for the 99% Invisible Podcast in 2014 [previously on MeFi]. Now biologist Kevin Chen is trying to bring the Ray Cat Solution to life.
Someday this country’s gonna be a fine, good place to be. Maybe it needs our bones in the ground before that time can come: An essay on the summer of the Atomic Bomb, by Joni Tevis. Originally published in The Diagram
Watch noisy Texas power pop band Radioactivity play two songs in an abandoned shopping mall. [more inside]
"A few months earlier, an archivist friend had mentioned over lunch that she had a connection to my hometown—in fact her first job as an archivist was in St. Louis, organizing the papers from a midcentury study of radioactivity in children’s teeth. I had been unable to shake the story, and found myself up late at night reading about nuclear weapons testing, or daydreaming during work about purity and milk, innocence and poison, the movement of invisible contamination. A follow-up with my archivist friend revealed that the archive contained letters from children—to scientists, and to the tooth fairy." From The Appendix: "Atomic Anxiety and the Tooth Fairy: Citizen Science in the Midcentury Midwest."
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]
The cosmos is also within us, we're made of star-stuff. We are a way for the cosmos, to know itself.
Cosmos: A Personal Voyage is a thirteen-part television series of one hour shows written by Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steven Soter, that was aired at the tail end of 1980 and was - at the time - the most widely watched series in the history of American public television. It is best introduced by an audio excerpt of one of his books, The Pale Blue Dot. Inside is a complete annotated collection of the series. [more inside]
"This study is important and overwhelming in its implications for both the human and biological communities living in Fukushima." . . . "These observations of mutations and morphological abnormalities can only be explained as having resulted from exposure to radioactive contaminants." Severe abnormalities found in Fukushima butterflies. Full report here.
The Boy who Played with Fusion. At age four, [Taylor Wilson] donned a fluorescent orange vest and hard hat and stood in front of the house, directing traffic. For his fifth birthday, he said, he wanted a crane. But when his parents brought him to a toy store, the boy saw it as an act of provocation. “No,” he yelled, stomping his foot. “I want a real one.” [more inside]
The Radioactive Orchestra consists of 3175 radioactive isotopes. You can listen and make music with most of them.
In 1971, a clinic in Brazil bought a radiation therapy machine. Fourteen years later, the practice closed and was abandoned. On September 13th, 1987, two men sold the inner canister of the machine for scrap. Upon breaking it open, a scrapyard employee found sparkling, glowing blue powder. It was distributed to family and friends, who used for decorative and magical purposes. Sixteen days later, 112,000 people were in Olympic stadium, being tested for radiation poisoning. [more inside]
The Hanford Site in SoutheastWashington (located on the Columbia River) is considered the dirtiest place on earth. 177 Underground storage tanks hold over 50 million gallons of radioactive and toxic waste. And they are leaking. [more inside]
Three Mile Island - a study in bad human interface design. Chernobyl in text, pictures (posted previously), and eyewitness accounts. Those are two of the most famous incidents involving mishaps with radioactive material. There have been many more (see also) including suicides, homicides, assaults, and motives forever unknown. But US citizens need not worry - the NRC is on it. What do you know about radiation poisoning? Take the test.
Speaking of gassing one's own people: US Government admits it tested nerve gas (sarin and VX) on its own sailors (Project SHAD). This is in addition to the testing of LSD on civilians (MK Ultra), syphilis on 399 black Alabama men (Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment), radioactivity on American GI's (Operation Crossroads), and the secret testing of germ warfare tactics on American cities. It's really no surprise the US government rejected an international ban on biological weapons, and yet we personalize this imminent war with Iraq and claim the justification as the forced disarming of dangerous 'Weapons of Mass Destruction'? I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.