A government secret that still (slightly) contaminates your body
September 16, 2020 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Another great science video out today by Veritasium: The Nuclear Fallout They Kept Secret. This one covers the deliberate choice by the US government in the 40s through 60s to hide the impact of atomic bomb testing, something not officially addressed until 1998. As one YT comment put it - Why do people not trust the US government? See history.
posted by Popular Ethics (13 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Previously re radioisotope contamination and identifying counterfeit whiskey
Previously by Derek Muller of Veritasium: many great video essays
posted by Popular Ethics at 1:34 PM on September 16, 2020

This is a great video. I had no previous awareness of the Kodak subplot, and it is fascinating.

He mentions that the two major health concerns at the time were cancer and mutation, and it hadn't occurred to me before, but I read virtually all the "Golden Age" SF that had been published in the fallout years, and mutation caused by nuclear radiation was the source of almost all the abilities and talents of the superior strains of humans that arose from the mass of ordinary humanity in so many of those books, so much so that in retrospect they look like a vast propaganda campaign for nuclear testing, served with a big side order of the desirability and necessity of eugenics.

I still think this was just the zeitgeist moving in its ever mysterious ways, but I'm no longer prepared to dismiss the possibility that it was actively and intentionally abetted by government and big business.
posted by jamjam at 6:14 PM on September 16, 2020 [6 favorites]

there was a lot of media where mutation from radiation was the source of monsters and horrors, too
posted by atoxyl at 7:12 PM on September 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

The zeitgeist was pretty thick with justifiable paranoia by the mid-fifties. Check out Kiss Me Deadly if you haven’t.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:20 PM on September 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

An observation whose source I don't remember: In American science fiction, radioactivity creates heroes, like Spider-Man. In Japanese science fiction, radiation creates monsters, like Godzilla.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 9:32 PM on September 16, 2020 [14 favorites]

I don't know about that, fantabulous timewaster. 1950s American Science Fiction is full of radioactive monsters large and small- the Beast from 20000 Fathoms, the Deadly Tarantula, the Black Scorpion, the Deadly Claw, X the Man with the X-Ray Eyes, to name a few.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 12:13 AM on September 17, 2020 [5 favorites]

Not to mention heroic monsters/monstrous heroes, like the Hulk.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:42 AM on September 17, 2020

Ah, Janus! -- the Janus-faced god!
posted by Glomar response at 5:03 AM on September 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

I'm just wondering if the restrictions to travel to the Trinity site are relatively recent. Pretty sure I just drove right up to that monument in the late 90s. It's in the middle of nowhere, nobody cared, no appointment was certainly necessary.
posted by SystematicAbuse at 8:59 AM on September 17, 2020

Google Books has citations for the first Saturdays in April and October policy going back to at least 1994.
posted by The Tensor at 10:27 AM on September 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

It used to be on old Google Earth, it showed all the sites of nuclear detonations. So on highway 93, going north out of Las Vegas, up to Rachel and Hiko, and cutting 66 miles off the route to Ely, there were detonation sites along that highway, close to the road currently in use to go to Bunkerville, and Alamo. It is a beautiful drive, a way to go from Wendover to Las Vegas along the Pahranagat National Wildlife Refuge, and all. I have never signed on to the new cloud based Google Earth, because now my roving interests seem available for all to see. Anyway. They grow a lot of beef up there at Cliven Bundy's place, and thereabouts.
posted by Oyéah at 11:19 AM on September 17, 2020

I'm so happy that Kodak's X-ray cardboard is a part of history because it is one of the best things ever.

It was about 1/16th of an inch thick, rigid, not corrugated, and had a uniform, unblemished white surface. My mom worked in a radiology department when I was a kid and would bring home sheets before they could get tossed in the garbage. All of my personal art projects, all of my school projects, every science fair project I ever made was at least partially executed with that cardboard. Markers left clean lines. It took charcoal and pastels like it was made for them. It was dream canvas for acrylics, never getting waterlogged, but still providing a good surface for blending. It was thick enough that you could set it on the carpet and draw without ever punching through the surface. And it made the coolest 3D sculptures if you were handy with a knife.

My childhood ended when they switched to digital imaging and I no longer had my sweet cardboard hookup. I still look for equivalents at art stores, but I've never found anything with the perfectly smooth texture, ideal thickness, and versatility of something that was designed to be thrown away. Kodak knew how to make some great art surfaces.
posted by Alison at 12:44 PM on September 17, 2020 [5 favorites]

Most of the original "modern" Marvel superheros have radiation as part of their origin: Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Ant-Man/Giant Man and the Wasp (Pym Particles), Captain America (vita-rays), Daredevil, the Hulk, and probably more. It was something that was at least on Stan Lee's mind.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:49 PM on September 17, 2020

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