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Japan Medicine

A Handy Radiation Dose Chart From XKCD 392

An anonymous reader points out Randall Munroe's latest contribution to public health awareness, a "chart of how much ionizing radiation a person can absorb from various sources, compared visually. 1 Sievert will make you sick, many more will kill you, however, even small doses cumulatively increase cancer risk." It's a good way to think about the difference between Chernobyl and Fukushima.
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A Handy Radiation Dose Chart From XKCD

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  • Re:additional (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zill ( 1690130 ) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @11:15AM (#35550464)

    Average doses in the world due to fallout: 0.11mSv

    Average doses in Japan due to fallout: 0.012mSv

    Isn't it ironic how the only country that was attacked with nuclear weapons actually has less fallout than the rest of the world?

  • by FauxReal ( 653820 ) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @11:21AM (#35550506) Homepage

    I would like to have seen the dosage given by using the backscatter machine at an airport listed.

  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Sunday March 20, 2011 @11:23AM (#35550528)
    Agreed. As a physician I am well aware that the body has compensation mechanisms for virtually everything, and they work fine so long as you don't overwhelm those mechanism (it usually always boils down to the rate of reaction of some enzyme or other). But was trying not to get too technical.
  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Sunday March 20, 2011 @11:24AM (#35550536)

    "However the odds of it being the cigarette you are currently smoking are quite small."

    "(Radioactive) Po-210 is also present in cigarettes. The actual mechanism by which the polonium arises in tobacco leaves is still disputed. It can arise through the decay of radon gas in the air directly onto the tobacco leaves or directly from the uptake of radioactive decay products of uranium in the earth in the roots of the plant. As cigarette burn, the radioactive polonium on the surface volatilizes and enter the lungs through inhalation. It has been claimed that radioactive polonium-210 is responsible for more than 90% of all smoking related lung cancers " []

  • Re:Bananas (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CheerfulMacFanboy ( 1900788 ) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @11:32AM (#35550612) Journal

    So, eating a banana is as radioactive as a threesome?

    Only if you three like to cuddle, or are really horny - it says sleeping next to someone (presumably for 8 hours or so). Make it a gangbang.

  • by ShakaUVM ( 157947 ) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @12:01PM (#35550928) Homepage Journal

    >>Maybe I'm wrong but I'm vastly annoyed with the media, given how they talk you'd think people were losing their hair and growing skin lesions.

    You're absolutely right to be annoyed at the media for getting it so wrong.

    But even the Slashdot summary is disingenuous:
    "1 Sievert will make you sick, many more will kill you, however, even small doses cumulatively increase cancer risk."

    There's no evidence for the LNT (linear no threshold) model for radiation exposure, other than people doing math and plotting a line down into the low-exposure ranges. All the epidemiological studies have shown much lower cancer incidence rates than the LNT would predict, indicating that there is a thresholding effect at work at low doses.

    This actually makes a *huge* difference when it comes to cleanup of radioactive material. Something like $200 billion worth of difference.

    That's why I'm interested in people actually, you know, testing this sort of stuff in the laboratory, like these guys: []

  • Re:Research (Score:4, Interesting)

    by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @01:33PM (#35551636) Journal
    It's easy to do more research than the news networks. I saw news reports of a mass exodus from Japan, but on a whim, I checked to see if there were seats available on the next flights out. There were economy class seats available, I think it unlikely that there would be economy class tickets available if there were a mass exodus taking place.
  • by similar_name ( 1164087 ) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @02:03PM (#35551864)

    Being rude doesn't matter from a standpoint of factual correctness, but a person can have the facts of their side and still come off looking like a raving lunatic when they write an entire paragraph where every third word is "cock".

    Surely a limited data set but it seems to me that people who swear a lot when trying to present an argument often miss or lack a lot of information even though the information they do have may be correct. Swearing can be telling as to which part of the brain is being used and how frequently. It can also affect the person reading/hearing the word in the same region. From HowStuffWorks [].

    Language processing is a "higher" brain function and takes place in the cerebral cortex.
    Emotion and instinct are "lower" brain functions and take place deep inside the brain.

    Many studies suggest that the brain processes swearing in the lower regions, along with emotion and instinct. Scientists theorize that instead of processing a swearword as a series of phonemes, or units of sound that must be combined to form a word, the brain stores swear words as whole units [ref]. So, the brain doesn't need the left hemisphere's help to process them. Swearing specifically involves:

    The limbic system, which also houses memory, emotion and basic behavior. The limbic system also seems to govern vocalizations in primates and other animals, and some researchers have interpreted some primate vocalizations as swearing.

    The basal ganglia, which play a large role in impulse control and motor functions.

  • by Khopesh ( 112447 ) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @03:37PM (#35552556) Homepage Journal

    I was surprised to see the TSA's full-body screening systems didn't make the list ... until I saw the reports of how much radiation it exposes us to. I'm using data from NPR's Scientists Question Safety Of New Airport Scanners [] (2010-05-17) and TSA's X-ray Screening Technology Safety Reports [] (date unknown, cited on the TSA Blog [] 2011-03-12).

    Note, to compare with XKCD's chart, both TSA and NPR state that a standard chest x-ray is 100 uSv rather than this XKCD's 20 uSv. NPR puts a mammogram at 700 uSv while XKCD holds it as 3000 uSv.

    The stated radiation from these backscatter scanners is 0.05 uSv (TSA, reported as 0.005 mrem []) to 0.2 uSv (UCSF via NPR) per usage. UCSF suggests that measuring this radiation on the skin would result in a larger value. The TSA report includes a disclaimer that they are re-testing these numbers and should have results around the end of this month. Another post here noted 0.09 uSv but had no source (reported as "0.09 Sv" because Slashdot eats the Greek letter mu).

    The real danger with respect to the backscatter scanners was to the TSA workers (who had zero protection) and others who work in airports. The NPR piece also cites David Brenner, head of Columbia University's Center for Radiological Research, saying that 5% of the population is especially sensitive to radiation and that "we don't really have a quick and easy test to find those individuals." Fortunately, these machines are not in use any more, though that might change if the TSA's new report doesn't increase those numbers (or it gets trumped by fearmongering on behalf of some news outlet or politician).

  • Re:Bananas (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AlejoHausner ( 1047558 ) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @05:59PM (#35553782) Homepage

    radiation is God's pure love

    This idea exists in Greek myth: "[Semele] then demanded that Zeus reveal himself in all his glory as proof of his godhood. Though Zeus begged her not to ask this, she persisted and he was forced by his oath to comply. Zeus tried to spare her by showing her the smallest of his bolts and the sparsest thunderstorm clouds he could find. Mortals, however, cannot look upon Zeus without incinerating, and she perished, consumed in lightning-ignited flame" You should not ask the Godhead to reveal itself in its pure form. No mortal can sustain it.

  • Re:additional (Score:4, Interesting)

    by zill ( 1690130 ) on Sunday March 20, 2011 @07:45PM (#35554480)

    Atomic bombs are designed to consume as much of the fissionable material as possible.

    That's actually a common misconception. Many bombs built in the cold war era had the design goal of maximizing radioactive fallouts as opposed to maximizing the yield. The rationale was that the blast waves can't cover the entire enemy nation, but the radioactive fallout can.

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