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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:

xkcd Radiation Chart

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:

NEI Information on the Japan Earthquake and Reactors in That Region

IAEA Update on Japan Earthquake

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.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (10+ / 0-)

    That which does not kill me only makes me fatter...

    by Ysabet on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 09:03:02 AM PDT

  •  The xkcd chart (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    could do a lot to dispel some of the hysteria that we're hearing.  Thanks a lot.

    GOP: Bankers, billionaires and suckers.

    by gzodik on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 11:47:20 AM PDT

    •  **nods** (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joieau, gzodik, OtherDoug

      I'm going to Japan next October; it's been planned for some time, and I'm a breast-cancer survivor... so yeah, I was worried. The chart helped me out too.  I still can't get over the banana thing. >_>

      "Se non è vero, è ben trovato." ('Even if it's not true, it's a good story.')

      by Ysabet on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 12:05:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  For awareness, NEI is an industry site (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau, OtherDoug, palantir, bryfry, Recall, raoul78

    and have a bit of a pro-nuclear bias.  In a similar vein, the Union for Concerned Scientists have some good information as well but are a bit biased in the opposite direction from their 3 decades of being against all nuclear power.  As a general rule of thumb on basic info I'd check out both sites and discount the more extreme claims on both sides.

    There have been several diaries here that comprise sort of a primer on nuclear power.  Dr. Linda Shelton wrote a good overview in Nuclear Reactors 101

    I've also written three diaries that aim to make this information accessible to people who lack a scientific background.

    What, exactly, IS a nuclear meltdown?

    Everything You Never Wanted to Know about Nuclear Containments

    Fukushima Status Update Summary

    The status update was as of yesterday morning and things have changed since then.  I'll be doing another update this evening after I get some real-world work done.

    Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

    by kbman on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 12:22:38 PM PDT

    •  Excellent (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      palantir, bryfry, Recall, OtherDoug

      The more information, the better.  This is too important a matter to allow for ignorance.

      Yeah, I'd kind of gathered that from reading the NEI site; but as I said, bias is going to happen. Sometimes you can learn as much from the visible bias as from an attempted lack thereof.  Thanks very much for the links!

      "Se non è vero, è ben trovato." ('Even if it's not true, it's a good story.')

      by Ysabet on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 01:32:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's a healthy attitude (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Recall, raoul78, OtherDoug

        FWIW, the NEI is the nuclear industry's trade group. It's their job to promote the nuclear industry. Of course, to some people this means that they're evil or something. Personally, I don't put much stock in that.

        The key concern should be whether their information is accurate, and from what I have seen from following their publications for years, their facts are accurate and tend to be presented in an honest way.

        It's funny, you know. Nobody here ever questions information from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), another industry trade group. Yet when the trade group involves the word "nuclear" there's usually a disclaimer accompanying the recommendation.

        Go figure.

        An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.
        -- H. L. Mencken

        by bryfry on Mon Mar 21, 2011 at 07:08:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I learned the hard way... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bryfry, OtherDoug

          ...that ignorance is NOT bliss, even if it feels like it might be, back when I was going through chemo for breast cancer six years ago. I hadn't a clue what to expect or what was going on and I had to learn (very quickly, too.) So I try to learn what I can.

          *grins* Well hey, wind power is all cheap and harmless and Perfectly Copacetic (read that as 'PC'), so of course nobody pokes at it much.  Like solar energy, you know? It comes from nature and therefore MUST be good and pure... except that making solar panels creates a considerable amount of silicon tetrachloride, which is bad for living things in Big Capital Letters. There's not a power-source in this world that doesn't bear looking into, one way or another.

          Off-topic: I very much like your signature quote; I'll remember that one. ^_^

          "Se non è vero, è ben trovato." ('Even if it's not true, it's a good story.')

          by Ysabet on Tue Mar 22, 2011 at 08:03:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

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