Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Radioactive Food and Robots and Some Other Stuff

Nothing significant has happened since my last update, really, I'm mostly checking in to assure my friends and family (and whomever else may be reading) that things are pretty normal in daily life. Now that the mainstream media has forgotten about Japan in favor of Libya, maybe people will calm down. We had a pretty big radiation spike this morning within the already-evacuated area (I prefer to call it the "GTFO Zone.") but nothing was reported after that, so it probably went back to normal-for-this-week levels after a few hours.

Voluntary departures have started at bases across Japan; I can't imagine how much it's costing the military to fly out entire families (possibly also pets, we're getting conflicting messages about that and I don't know who to believe) and process a ridiculous amount of paperwork. I only know a handful of people on our base but I think they're all staying, and that may or may not be indicative of the whole. I've heard that families at some other bases are leaving in droves, but I haven't seen any official tally of percent leaving versus whole population.

Radioactive Food

Some radiation has been found in spinach and milk from Miyagi Prefecture, but it's still within reasonable limits. Some articles (I've forgotten where I saw it first, linked article is from The Japan Times) state if you drank the milk every day for a year, the radiation you would be exposing yourself to equals one CT scan. Eating the spinach every day for a year would equal one fifth of a CT scan.

If it makes you feel any better, I'll cut back on spinach milkshakes for a while.

For some general perspective on radioactivity and what levels are how significant, xkcd.com has a pretty comprehensive chart:

(click the image or the link for the larger version)


The robots have arrived! According to this article from the One Per Cent blog on NewScientist.com, they have finally dispatched a Monirobo (monitoring robot) to enter the dangerous area immediately around the plant to detect radiation levels, take 3D pictures, and monitor temperature and humidity. A different flavor of Monirobo should follow pretty soon to take dust samples and test for flammable gases. How cool is that? Popular Science has a picture of the Monirobos:

Evidently France sent some robots, too, although it's only been mentioned in passing in the articles I've found, so I don't have any real information on them.

Some Other Stuff

A friend showed me a link to japanquakemap.com. It has a really neat visualization of the earthquakes we've had in the last couple weeks. All 679, at time of writing.

It sorts them by depth, not magnitude (although you can sort of choose what magnitude range to include), but it's still pretty neat to see. If you start with "all since March 11," it's kind of slow for the first thirty seconds, then they show up like the grand finale of a firework show. If you're prone to worrying, don't watch it. Or if you are but your curiosity gets the better of you, remember that we haven't felt all of these quakes. Personal testimonial: today there are 11 earthquakes listed, but I've only noticed one. Maybe two, sometimes it's hard to tell.

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