WolframAlpha and Nuclear Boy vs Anderson Cooper and Soledad O’Brien

In a couple of earlier entries I’ve explored how WolframAlpha can inform public discourse when it involves energy literacy. Last night, when Clemens Vasters tweeted the JAIF (Japan Atomic Industrial Forum) reactor status update, WolframAlpha again showed how helpful it can be. According to the JAIF document, the radiation dose at the border of the power station was most recently reported to be 642 microsieverts/hr. Well, what does that mean?

Q: 642 microsieverts/hr

In the US press, though, the units are typically rems or millirems. So:

Q: 642 microsieverts in millirems

That’s at the border of the power station. What about inside? According to another source, BraveNewClimate, “At 8:47AM on March 16, a radiation level of 300 milli sievert per hour was recorded between the exteriors of the secondary containment buildings of Unit 2 reactor and Unit 3 reactor of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.”

Q: 300 millisieverts

I wish I could flow all the Fukushima news through a WolframAlpha filter that would provide these and other comparisons. More importantly, I wish that the US media would flow their unhelpful coverage (/via @cgerrish) through that filter because Nuclear Boy is doing a better job than Anderson Cooper and Soledad O’Brien.

3 Comments

  1. FWIW, when I worked as an intern at the N Reactor at Hanford making measurements, I was allowed to get a maxiumum of 300 mrem/day. Employees could get 500 mrem/day. 300 mrem = 3 mSv. The annual occupational dose for nuclear workers is 5Rem and 50-600Rem over a short period of time are required to produce radiation sickness.

  2. If you dig the numbers out of the JAIF PDFs over the past 4 days, since they starting reporting the radiation level at the plant border, it goes like this (in µSv/hr):

    498, 6308, 3391, 1937, 646, 646, 287, 646, 287, 364

    The alternating duplication of 287 and 646 makes me wonder what’s actually being measured when, but the trend is hopeful.

    I guess the press senses this, we’re already moving away from scare-mongering about radiation drifting over California to this Merc headline:

    “Japan disasters could result in gadget shortages”

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