People who ask why we should be concerned about the poor state of education in this country need only look to how little science people know and how dangerous and expensive that little knowledge can be.
The same person who knows cars kill tens of thousands every year has no concern about driving yet a minute radiation leak an ocean away sends him into panic.
I’m glad people on the West coast are thinking about getting prepared for a disaster but this isn’t preparation, this is simply panic worthy of the Flounder character in Animal House.
Upwards of 100,000 probably died in Japan last week. No one has died of radiation – even workers in the nuclear plants have probably not gotten a really serious dose of radiation. Yet the world and especially the U.S. hasn’t waited for something to happen, they just panic.
Facts and a decent education so they could understand facts might help.
Fact – About 60 people died at Chernobyl, mostly firefighters. There was no containment vessel at that reactor. BTW, more than 100 people are killed by lightning every year – many because they are too dumb to come in out of the rain.
(Yes a lot of radiation contaminated land and food which was eaten and led to higher cancer rates. That won’t happen in the Japanese disaster.)
Fact – There were Zero deaths and Zero injuries at Three Mile Island where the reactor actually did melt down but almost no radiation escaped.
Fact – everyone, EVERYONE gets radiation ALL THE TIME. If you go underground to escape solar radiation you get radiation from the rocks.
You get radioactive smoke from cigarettes, coal fires, even wood fires.
The next time you sit next to a granite monument remember that you are sitting on radioactive rock and in an hour you will get more radiation than anyone in Japan who wasn’t actually working in the nuclear power plants when the accidents occurred.
If all the reactors in Japan melted down tomorrow and the containment shells all broke, then if the wind went exactly wrong, you might get enough radiation on the U.S. west coast to cause some minor concern.
Potassium iodide is dangerous to babies and even adults if not taken properly yet people are rushing to buy the medicine along with Geiger counters and other things they don’t know how to use and are probably getting counterfeit drugs and inoperable detectors about half the time.
Perhaps the radiation detector sales will be helpful because when they are turned on they will show people that they are always bathed in radiation.
Unfortunately the people on TV who are supposed to inform us are actually more interested in causing a sensation so it took several days before they stopped presenting the reactor problems as an end of the world scenario and began explaining it was, so far at least, a simple industrial accident. People are killed in industrial accidents every day. Nothing is completely safe.
Just the word radiation scares people because today they have no education in even the most basic science I had learned in 6th grade.
So, if most Americans aren’t really “Fat, drunk, and stupid,” they usually act as if they were so what’s the difference?
Certainly TV news, especially local TV news and almost all advertisers treat people that way and they make lots of money doing so.
Need more evidence? People happily pay lots of money to live on top of a major earthquake fault which they are constantly told will eventually kill most of them.
Italians still live on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius despite knowing that their city (Naples) could be wiped out in a few minutes as were Herculenium and Pompeii because the mountain is actually an ACTIVE volcano.
Mt. Vesuvius historically has minor or major eruptions every 20 years. Often when there are such cycles a long quiet period results in a major event later. The last event on Mt. Vesuvius occurred in 1944.
Barnum’s Law – “You’ll never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people.” The Barnum who said that was P.T. Barnum, as in the Barnum and Bailey Circus.
What gives me the right to an opinion? I’ve been in nuclear power plants. I studied nuclear physics at two universities. I worked as an emergency management coordinator. I was trained and certified as a radiation and decontamination specialist.
Try thinking for yourself but don’t get your facts from TV news.
The talking head reading a script wouldn’t know a Higgs Boson from a softball. (Hint, the Higgs Boson would have an EVEN (actually 0) spin. Quarks and leptons would have multiples of ½ spins and photons and gluons have a spin of 1.)
Check Wikipedia for how radiation is measured.