Okay, plain and simple: I do not know or claim to know much about nuclear power. I know the myths and the Chernobyl stories and the things everybody wonders about ('If x-rays are so safe, why does my dental technician push the button from outside the room?'); I should know more, though, in order to understand the things that are going on in Japan right now. And so I went looking.
Turns out that one of the people whose blog I regularly follow on LiveJournal (copperbadge, i.e., Sam Starbuck-- thank you, Sam!), a tremendous person and gifted writer, was kind enough to post some very useful links this morning; they're non-media links and, while I'm going to be rereading them to get the gist down, are fairly educational. I won't say they're nonbiased, because anything as terrifying as potential nuclear disaster carries a weight of emotion with it and is damn near impossible to be nonbiased... but they're pretty good.
The first one's courtesy of an online comic which is near and dear to my heart, xkcd. Yes, xkcd-- yes, it's a comic strip. It focuses on math and science and pokes pins into tech-language and lab esoterica, and every now and then produces something for the general public that tends to end up on cubicle walls. This is no exception-- it's a chart that explains radiation: what we get it from, how much we get (did you know that bananas produce measurable natural radiation?), how much the average person absorbs in a day or a year. It also explains how much one can safely take in, what isn't safe, and what can kill. You can find it here:
The next two links are to sites which are being updated as changes happen in the Japanese nuclear situation; be sure to hit your refresh-button if you stay there for any length of time. The second site in particular explains some of the technical jargon in fairly understandable ways. As I said, these are not entirely unbiased sites, but they're probably as good as can be found at least this morning:
I've got a lot to learn. But these websites gave me a little more info than I had before, which isn't a bad thing. I'm not an idiot; sure there are those of you out there reading this that'll protest the sites for one reason or another (probably vehemently), but do us all a favor, will you? If you feel a protest is in order, forget the freakin' diatribe and post another link that you think is more helpful. Right now, I'm more interested in information than I am in hearing why nuclear reactors are going to murder me in my bed some night.
Knowledge is power, correct? Be powerful-- educate.
Hope y'all find this useful. Have a good day, everyone.