Radiation levels in Japan and the U.S.A.

UPDATE 13 April 2011: All links work in Part 1. Added a Part 2 for U.S, European radiation levels

Part One: Radiation levels in Japan

The source for this chart is Ryugo Hayano, Ph.D. Professor Hayano is the Physics Department Chair at The University of Tokyo. Click on the image to view a larger version, with higher resolution. It links directly to the Professor’s user page on image-sharing site Plixi. You’ll find many other charts and graphs there. Some charts are localized at a prefecture level.

Graph of Radiation

Graph of Radiation levels in Japan on 10 April 2011

I offer my thanks to @hayano and Daniel Garcia. Daniel R. Garcia Ph.D. is a nuclear scientist from France, doing a post-doc at TEPCO, in Fukushima. He was there prior to the earthquake and tsunami. Daniel frequently sends updates via Twitter as @daniel_garcia_r. He works at the reactor site every day, takes photos, and makes them available via Twitter.

Fukushima nuclear plant

Control board of Fukushima 1 Nuclear Power Plant when all was well

Both Daniel and Professor Hayano are reliable, because they never confuse Becquerel with Sievert with Roentgen, they know radio-isotopes and their half-lives better than nearly anyone. Daniel had to assisted the press a few weeks ago when there was confusion between Cesium 137 versus Iodine 137 versus Iodine 131 versus Uranium 137.

PART II: Other locales, other radiation levels

The Radiation Network is an excellent resource for radiation information in the U.S.A. and other parts of the world. It is a network of civilian volunteers using a protocol to report radiation readings, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Sensor stations are located throughout the contiguous 48 states, Hawaii,  Alaska and Norway. There was one in Northern Japan. Sadly, it went off-line last month.

The Radiation Network is non-profit, all volunteer and headquartered in Arizona. Tim is the public face of the Radiation Network. Using software developed for this purpose, Tim collects and aggregates the real-time data from the sensor stations, then updates the map online with the readings at one-minute intervals. The Radiation Network has went online nearly a decade, ago. Thus they offer very reliable baseline measures for comparison and detection of any incident. Their criteria for elevated radiation include

  • Rule out protocol for false positives e.g. spikes due to sensors  malfunctioning,
  • Level of radiation that is significant: Higher than the threshold AND sustained, and how long “sustained” is,
  • Exogenous causes such as geography. Readings in Colorado are always higher due to the higher elevation.

The site is basic but  functional. There are The Maps, and The Message. The Message is a running log of updates.

In addition to the embedded links above, you can read a little more about the Radiation Network in this little piece I wrote on Amplify on April 7.

Published in: on April 10, 2011 at 8:59 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Bearable Lightness of Blimps

Enviromentally Conscious Airfreight alternative: The Blimp

An airfreight alternative by CargoLifter AG

Professor Sir David King, former UK scientific adviser addressed the World Forum on Enterprise and Environment in Oxford earlier this month. Professor King said that helium-filled blimps are a practical means* of transporting high value perishable goods such as fresh fruit, vegetables and cut flowers.

Several major air and transit companies, including Lockheed Martin, Boeing and CargoLifter AG, (see photograph above) have designs in progress. The Guardian reported that U.K. government funding has been allocated for development, or rather, re-development, of this 70-year old technology with the intent of adaptation for use in modern contexts. King indicated that implementation could lead to widespread usage of blimps for freight transport as soon as 2020. While that seems rather optimistic, it is conceivable for specialized commercial purposes such as transport of greenhouse flowers from The Netherlands to North America.

A few matters for investigation:

  • What will power the blimp motors? Blimps are not like hot-air balloons, and most motors need fossil fuels for power.
  • Blimp infrastructure for landing, take-off and traffic control, would require significant investment. There are functioning blimps, presumably for advertising purposes, in regular use today. The Goodyear Blimp needs to take off and land somewhere, so some bases must exist. There was a large blimp hangar in Lakehurst, New Jersey, and another in Sunnyvale, California which may still be serviceable.
  • Blimp pilots. Again, there are individuals flying blimps now. However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would need to set up a variety of new guidelines and training programs.

*Helium is the safe alternative to the flammable hydrogen associated with the Hindenburg disaster in the years before World War II.

Published in: on July 25, 2010 at 3:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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