Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Today minute traces of radiation were detected in seawater off the coast of Fukushima.  You can add this to radioactive water in Tokyo, vegetables in Ibaraki and milk from Fukushima.  The Japanese government assures us that none of this really constitutes a problem, as the levels are too low.  You can hardly blame people for having their doubts though.

I suspect we will be in this realm for quite a long time: are trace amounts of radioactivity in food, far below levels reported to be dangerous to health, acceptable?  For example, is it okay to eat broccoli, that, if consumed everyday, would expose you to as much radiation over a year as a tenth of a chest x-ray?  The commonly repeated refrain by many is that 'there is no safe level of radiation' but only a cursory reading of scientific literature will give you doubts about this.  For example, if normal 'background radiation' is not safe, then 'safety' is actually impossible.  In fact, some serious sources (e.g. Wikipedia) even suggest that very low levels of radiation may be good for the body.  It's hard to know what to make of such an idea, as it goes against everything I've been taught, but if I came to believe this it wouldn't be the first time I've been diametrically opposed to popular opinion.

Up at the Fukushima nuclear plant the battle continues.  They now have electricity linked up to all the reactors, and what remains now is to test the cooling systems before turning everything back on.  In the meantime, cooling has continued by vehicle, and now they've brought in these huge machines with 50- meter hoses attached that are designed to spray concrete, and they are using them for precision water spraying.
Some cautious optimism seems appropriate here.

Japanese Self Defence Forces are now combating Radioactive Zombies

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