Okay, so I actually do know how to spell “nuclear.” I’ve also spent a bit of time reading about Chernobyl and other nuclear accidents (yes, there have been many accidents involving nuclear materials of various types), and I’ve reached a conclusion. Nuclear science is hard.
BoingBoing.net has had some of the best commentary and coverage of what’s going on in Japan on a scientific level, relating much of it in an actual understandable fashion. I’m not going to link all their posts, but here are a few of the most interesting:
- Diagram of the cooling system for a nuclear reactor. This will show you how it’s supposed to work.
- Old scale diagrams of nuclear reactors of the world. Vintage stuff, but very interesting.
- If you read “Lord of the Flies,” you might believe people go to pieces in and immediately following a crisis, immediately turning into feral children and trying to eat each other. Not so!
- I’m honestly not sure if this picture of the reactor shows normal Japanese soil, but for good reason or no reason at all, it reminded me a bit of Chernobyl’s Red Forest.
- People are crowdsourcing radiation levels. Oh, the power of the internet!
BoingBoing! also linked this amazing graph from xkcd that compares levels of radiation from all sorts of sources, from traveling in an airplane to medical X-rays to the release at Chernobyl and the radiation given off by your own body. This will really help you envision the comparative radiation amounts in all these activities and I highly recommend taking a gander at it.