Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Japan Medicine Science Idle

Jars of Irradiated Russian Animals Find a New Purpose 86

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the osha-radiation-guidelines-for-zone-trippers dept.
scibri writes with bits and pieces from the article: "From the early 1950s to the end of the cold war, nearly 250,000 animals were systematically irradiated in the Russian town of Ozersk. Fearful of a nuclear attack by the United States, the Soviet Union wanted to understand how radiation damages tissues and causes diseases such as cancer. Now, these archives have become important to a new generation of radiobiologists, who want to explore the effects of the extremely low doses of radiation — below 100 millisieverts — that people receive during medical procedures such as computed-tomography diagnostic scans, and by living close to the damaged Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Jars of Irradiated Russian Animals Find a New Purpose

Comments Filter:
  • Forget fireflys! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Reasonable Facsimile (2478544) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @11:35AM (#39941987)
    I want a jar of irradiated Russian animal remains!
  • Um (Score:5, Funny)

    by jimmerz28 (1928616) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @11:37AM (#39942011)
    Can't they just use frequent flyers?
    • by Iniamyen (2440798)
      This was exactly my reaction. Talk about unnecessary exposure.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        How so?
        If I can double my income by being a frequent flier than some increase in cancer risk must surely be worth it. The question to me seems only how much is that risk worth to you.

    • You have to wait until they die. However, I see no ethical issue with using TSOs.

  • Fun! (Score:5, Funny)

    by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @11:37AM (#39942027) Journal

    Sounds even more fun than a barrel of radioactive monkey parts!

  • meow (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So THIS is what happened to all the bonsai kittens.

  • Did the US do similar studies? It seems like it would have been a pretty good idea to study those effects during the cold war.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unethical_human_experimentation_in_the_United_States

    • Well I think just about any test of nukes had involved farm animals.
      I remember the navy did a test of nuclear explosions on ships and as part of the test they loaded up ships and subs with cows and blew them up.
      • by swx2 (2632091)
        part of me is going: wtf? Why?
        and another part of me is going: that's fucking awesome.

        I must have played too many video games... >_>
        • well how else do you know how a previously unseen weapon will effect people other then by blowing up something living with it to see what would happen.
      • by sr180 (700526)

        The Australians and the British simply had their soldiers walking through the falling mushroom clouds of nuclear tests. They then denied that this activity caused cancers later in life and refused to provide compensation or support for it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by perles (1855088)
      Yes! Read about the Mega Mouse project. It used 7 million mice. http://www.e-radiography.net/radsafety/rad_biology.htm [e-radiography.net]
    • by dmbasso (1052166)

      It is still doing. Did you think the TSA exists for your security? :p

      • Re:I wonder... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by ericloewe (2129490) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @01:00PM (#39943293)

        The TSA is actually a complex study that uses a huge sample:

        TSA agents are the chronically exposed
        Frequent travellers are the regularly exposed
        Occasional travellers are the occasionally exposed

        Backscatter scanners are the real deal
        mm-Wave scanners are the placebo

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      "Did the US do similar studies? It seems like it would have been a pretty good idea to study those effects during the cold war."

      We did not use animals, we used the American Indians instead.

  • It's not really a new purpose, just new scientists with more advanced equipment and procedures. I'm surprised the tissues were saved.
    • Re:Same purpose (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Jappus (1177563) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @11:59AM (#39942367)

      Well, its probably telling that even the Russians have not yet found a way to permanently deal with radioactive waste that does not offend people. :P

      Joking aside, why would you discard this stuff? Unless such biological samples are contaminated, completely decayed or have completely lost their essential and interesting properties, the cost of storing them is usually negligibly in contrast to the cost of recreating those samples if you need them.

      After all, back then nobody much cared about irradiating 250k animals. Nowadays even the Russians would be up to their gills in activists and their local kind of PETA members if they did something like that even semi-publically.

      • I dunno. Formalin that has sat in a jar for 60 years isn't my idea of a good time. It will be interesting to see if they can get useful info out of the specimens. Remember that most of the new, fancy diagnostic techniques require different handling than what was typical for light microscopy in the Soviet Union back then (who the hell knows what they fixed those samples in?).

        But it's certainly worth trying. The samples aren't getting in any better condition just sitting there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @11:43AM (#39942135)

    the fine members of Soviet Russia would do something like this. I can easily see a few portly Soviet generals overseeing labs of svelte Soviet women systematically irradiating squirrels for the Motherland.

  • Radiation Hormesis (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @11:44AM (#39942149) Homepage

    Back in the day we were still doing radiation experiments in the U.S., the low dose groups consistently outlived the controls. The theory of radiation hormesis has been fairly well documented since the 50's.

    The most supported version of how it works is that low levels of ionizing radiation do minor damage to DNA while triggering the repair mechanisms. While the DNA repair is happening, it fixes more than the damage from the ionizing radiation, cleaning up other little problems along the way. Obviously that's the highly simplified explanation, the details are mind numbingly complex. The interesting conclusion would be finding the exact line between a helpful dose and one that does more damage than the repair mechanisms can fix. It really takes a hell of a dose to raise your lifetime cancer risk, so I'm curious to see the study conclusions.

    So those people who used to go sit in old uranium mines to inhale that radon gas might have been on to something.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Quoting wikipedia, "Consensus reports by the United States National Research Council and the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) argue that there is no evidence for hormesis in humans and in the case of the National Research Council, that hormesis is outright rejected as a possibility. Therefore, the Linear no-threshold model (LNT) continues to be the model generally used by regulatory agencies for

      • by Talderas (1212466) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @11:58AM (#39942349)

        There's not been actual scientific evidence for radiation hormesis in humans, despite it being your pet theory.

        I suspect that the reason for that is... you know... doing it in a controlled fashion to be able to test and gather evidence.

      • by HangingChad (677530) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @12:14PM (#39942595) Homepage

        There's not been actual scientific evidence for radiation hormesis in humans, despite it being your pet theory.

        These were animal studies and it's not my pet theory. I was directly involved in many of those studies as a staff scientist and I don't give a rat's ass what UNSCEAR says, I saw it over and over again.

        The background cancer rate in humans is 1 in 3, so there would have to be a huge population study to validate the findings in humans and it's just not going to happen unless large populations of humans are exposed to varying yet highly precise levels of ionizing radiation.

        And, just for the record, UNSCEAR couldn't find a black cat on a white field at high noon with a microscope.

        • That is seriously fascinating. Glad you posted this.
        • by nedlohs (1335013) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @12:35PM (#39942909)

          And, just for the record, UNSCEAR couldn't find a black cat on a white field at high noon with a microscope.

          If you were restricted to only viewing through the microscope I can see that being difficult.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @01:12PM (#39943485)

          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2477708/

          The conventional approach for radiation protection is based on the ICRP's linear, no threshold (LNT) model of radiation carcinogenesis, which implies that ionizing radiation is always harmful, no matter how small the dose. But a different approach can be derived from the observed health effects of the serendipitous contamination of 1700 apartments in Taiwan with cobalt-60 (T1/2 = 5.3 y). This experience indicates that chronic exposure of the whole body to low-dose-rate radiation, even accumulated to a high annual dose, may be beneficial to human health. Approximately 10,000 people occupied these buildings and received an average radiation dose of 0.4 Sv,

      • by Dr. Gamera (1548195) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @12:19PM (#39942669)

        There's not been actual scientific evidence for radiation hormesis in humans, despite it being your pet theory.

        It's not hormesis, per se, but it's clear that humans (and other lifeforms) can endure at least the low levels of radiation coming from their own bodies. Humans are about 0.35% potassium by mass; 0.0117% of potassium is potassium-40; potassium-40, which undergoes beta decay, has a half-life of 1.248 * 10^9 years. Each 1 kg of body mass has about 410 micrograms of potassium-40; that's 6.2 * 10^18 potassium-40 atoms. 1.248 * 10^9 years is 3.938 * 10^16 seconds, so roughly 1 out of every 3.938 * 10^16 potassium-40 atoms decays every second. Out of the 6.2 * 10^18 potassium-40 atoms in each kg of body mass, that's about 160 atoms. Average adult weight is something like 70 kg, so figure 11200 potassium-40 atoms are undergoing beta decay inside the average adult body every second.

        • Ugh, I think this is actually off by a factor of 2. Roughly ONE-HALF of every 3.938 * 10^16 potassium-40 atoms decays every second. So figure 5600 potassium-40 atoms are undergoing beta decay inside the average adult body every second. Sorry. I'm clearly not a radiochemist.
      • That's a policy dominated by politics, not by the science. The available data don't support LNT, but it's politically unacceptible to say otherwise because the opponents will then accuse you of all sorts of things using logical fallacies to extrapolate to absurdity.

        The way they can maintain the false premise of LNT is that the curve is slight, and any sufficiently short segment of a curve can be approximated by a straight line, so as long as you're only looking at a narrow range of exposures, you can contin

      • http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2477708/ [nih.gov] It might not be *enough* evidence to draw a conclusion, but that certainly put a damper on "no" evidence.
    • by Gothmolly (148874)

      So its like defragging your hard drive?

      • by poity (465672)

        seems to me it's more like running scandisk, and in addition to fixing read/write errors it also improves grammar in your document files.

      • by Jappus (1177563)

        So its like defragging your hard drive?

        I'd compare it more to cleaning your display.

        You can live with not doing it, but taking a soft cloth greatly improves things. Using newspaper sheets is somewhat pointless for most displays. Taking sandpaper is pretty much the definition of a Pyrrhic victory. Taking a sandblaster, though, is quite generally considered the sign of a thoroughly confused mind.

      • by Spykk (823586)
        I'm afraid your analogy does not meet the Current Analogy Requirements for analogies on slashdot. A more correct response would have been:

        So its like taking your car to the mechanic for an oil change and having him repair the failing alternator he noticed while he was in there?

        We take standards seriously here at slashdot and would like you to please be more careful in the future.

    • We had that whole stupid discussion last week. Even if you like to believe it's the case, it's not been scientifically proven, and there's lots of evidence that radiation causes cancer. http://science.slashdot.org/story/12/05/01/1420228/scientific-jigsaw-puzzle-fitting-the-pieces-of-the-low-level-radiation-debate [slashdot.org]
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I hate to burst your bubble, but that study is utter garbage and does not represent low level radiation exposure.

        1. page 19, figure 2. Look at it. Exposure to levels up to 0.2Gy were below LNT. 0.2Gy is not low level radiation! At 1Gy exposure your hair falls out, for Pete's sake!

        2. there has been NO research about low level exposure to background levels.

        3. there has been absolutely no research at near 0 exposure levels - a lab has been proposed for this. It has not been built.

        Since there are no facilities

        • by Hartree (191324)

          There has been some preliminary work done by someone at NMSU with microbes (D Radiodurans) grown in an ultralow radiation level environment. D. radiodurans is incredibly resistant to radiation, so it's an interesting organism to work with for radiation related work.

          There was also some work done in Europe by Planel in the 80s.

          Neither of these appear to agree with LNT at very low levels of exposure.

          It's still ongoing as of the last I could find.

          More of this research needs to be done in good controlled fashio

    • by ne0n (884282)

      So those people who used to go sit in old uranium mines to inhale that radon gas might have been on to something.

      Yeah, they became immune to cancer. And if they do, all that's prescribed is a round of chemo. Just don't make 'em angry.

    • Sooo, it's basically defragging your genome?
    • by Tyr07 (2300912)

      That level of radiation you speak of you receive from the sun.
      We're constantly hit with natural radiation (vs a man made source) constantly.

      I really don't recommend you inhale radon gas. It's possible that the radiation was treating certain affliction as radiation
      can kill many things, but the side affect is it also kills you.

      It's one of those - may make you feel better for the moment but make you feel a lot worse later.

    • by sootman (158191)

      > Obviously that's the highly simplified explanation, the details are mind numbingly complex.

      No, that's the radiation. :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    More ionizing radiation = increased chance of mutation in cells = higher chance of certain diseases if it smashes in to the right genes at the right times.

    I'm sure there has been reports all over the place that have linked increases in illness with those who get frequent x-rays and CT scans for whatever reasons (be it mouth x-rays for dentistry reasons)

    No, what I would like to see is the TSA forced to go through their own scanners to see how they like it.
    For every person that goes through, they deserve to g

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What's the news?

  • Let loose the tin hat brigade

  • Minions (Score:4, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @12:28PM (#39942807)

    There is only one sane, rational thing to do with these things.

    BUILD AN ARMY OF GLOWING SUPERMUTANT BEASTS!

    Seriously, research into (pffft!) cancer? Fuck that pansy noise.

"I have just one word for you, my boy...plastics." - from "The Graduate"

Working...