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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Malaria Parasite Invasion On Video

Plasmodium falciparum is the parasite responsible for malaria. It continues to cause about 1 million deaths per year, worldwide. This video is a scientific first. The moment when a malaria parasite invades a human red blood cell has never been captured on video, and in high-resolution, no less.

Transmission electron microscopy and 3D immuno-fluoresence microscopy were used to record still images for this 40-second video clip. Those are impressive technologies, but are not responsible for the break through. Dr. Jack Baum and colleagues from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Melbourne, Australia are credited with the clever idea:

To boost the chances of catching Plasmodium parasites in the act of attacking a red blood cell the team controlled the process using two drugs. The first – heparin – prevents parasites entering a new red blood cell, while the second – E64 – prevents their exit.

Erythrocytes

Red blood cells

Careful timing of the events assured plenty of invasion events for capture on video.

This video is not merely showmanship. It shows that the red blood cell (erythrocyte) invasion by Plasmodium is not a well-ordered event as thought. The video demonstrates a way to stop Plasmodium parasites from entering red blood cells, and arresting the disease process once contracted.

More details may be found in the New Scientist and the journal where the discovery was published: Cell Host & Microbe, Volume 9, Issue 1, 9-20,  20 January 2011, DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2010.12.003. The abstract and graphical images may be viewed free, without a subscription.

Published in: on January 21, 2011 at 5:06 pm  Comments (1)  
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